Siri is our Climate Ambassador!

Siri Karavida, ESC volunteer at GEAI, is coming to the end of her volunteering year with us. The list of the things she managed to do while in Ireland is pretty impressive: Climate Action Days at schools, the household energy survey of Boyle, the Leitrim Cróga project (more on it soon!) and many more. However, amongst her main achievements she mentions becoming a Climate Ambassador.

What is Climate Ambassador?

The Climate Ambassador programme is a great opportunity to become a leader in your school, campus or community and to promote positive climate actions in a local context.

Climate change effects can be felt here and now, at a local, national and global scale. Becoming a Climate Ambassador gives people the opportunity and platform to do something really positive within our communities. Adapting to climate change and mitigating the adverse impacts is a growing concern in every community in Ireland.

Siri shares her experience

“My main action was delivering talks and presentations related to climate change in schools. It has been a very valuable experience, because I got the opportunity to talk about climate change to young students, who are the future active citizens and on whom the climate change will have the biggest impact. With my talks I reached about 140 people who were very engaged and interested. I faced some challenges regarding delivering the message of climate change without scaring and discouraging the students. I achieved that by finishing my talks with a positive message that there is still time and if we change our behaviour, climate change can be tackled. I was very surprised at the level of knowledge that the people already had on the issue, and the attention and engagement that they showed!”

If you are interested in becoming a Climate Ambassador, more information is available on the official website of the programme.

Alexandra Peralaika

Boyle ready to save €6.1 million on energy needs

Energy transition at your doorstep

A survey study carried out by Good Energies Alliance Ireland on household energy uses in Boyle (Co. Roscommon) discovered that the town spends over €4 million on fossil fuels each year. This not only generates local pollution and contributes to the climate crisis, but also cripples the local economy, as this money flows out of it.

GEAI has developed a Powerful Community Pathway for Boyle that shows untapped potential for households to save money by cutting over €6 million off energy costs in five years. At the same time, phasing out from fossil fuels brings several health, social and environmental advantages the community can benefit from. Figure below shows the increasing trend of annual savings for the 2019-2025 time horizon.

This equals to a 41% drop in climate-harmful emissions.

The report demonstrates that a clean and just energy transition is accessible, pays back in the short run and empowered communities can lead it. We are indeed proud to announce that, as a result of GEAI study, Boyle citizens have embarked on a journey to become a Sustainable Energy Community, receiving grants and mentorship from SEAI.

We hope our work can inspire other communities all over Ireland who want to reduce their carbon footprint and improve their standard of living.

Find out more by downloading the report and the key findings in our publication page.

Areas of transition

Households can take a range of actions to save on energy costs. We have grouped them into four areas.

Here are a few examples of actions below, check the full list in the report. 

Knowledge
To kickstart realistic transition we need to know more about our energy use: tracking energy costs, switching energy suppliers for better rates and keeping an eye on grants available.
Transport
Reduce car journeys and increase public transport use, when possible, and eventually switch to electric vehicles.
Houses
Get a Building Energy Rating (BER) of your home and consider insulation works as a good start, followed by installing renewable energy systems on-site.
Community
Community engagement is the driving force of the transition. Without a collective effort the transition is unlikely to escalate.

Main figures

The average households spends €4,513 per year for its energy needs (heating + electricity + transport). Only 8.6% of that is spent on renewable energy.

Even though thermal energy costs account for just 30% of the total, thermal energy has the largest climate impact share, at 54% of the total carbon emissions. This is due to high reliance on oil and solid fuels for heating purposes, which are “cheap” emitters of greenhouse gases. On the other hand, electricity has the highest carbon content per unit of energy (kgCO2 per kWh produced), due to the national electric grid running for the major part on natural gas.

Transport energy, at 31%, has the second largest impact, due to dominance of privately-owned diesel and petrol cars (6 cars for every 10 residents).

The Household Energy Survey

This study has been managed by GEAI and carried out by European Erasmus+ volunteers with IT Sligo technical support.

In order to obtain the energy profile of the typical Boyle household, a doorstep survey was designed and administered to over 100 households in town, representing 10% of the total population. The survey included details of house age and characteristics, types of energy used, monthly or annual expenditure on electricity, heating and transport.

European volunteers taking a respondent answers

Once the data were collected and analyzed, a transition scenario to 2025 was developed, based on the transition areas and actions described above.  The results were presented to Boyle community at an “Energy Challenge” seminar.

We are currently considering replication of the project in other towns in Ireland and partnership in Europe.


Files:

Boyle Energy Challenge Seminar

Our Boyle Energy Seminar took place Monday 17th June at the Boyle Community College. After conducting energy surveys in April and May for the households of Boyle, we finally presented the results of the amount of energy, money and CO2 emissions that the town accounts for. The numbers were shocking, as it was estimated that Boyle spends 4.1 million for heating, transport and electricity and emits 11,100 tonnes CO2 per year.

In order to create a more sustainable energy use model for Boyle, a Community Transition Roadmap was composed, simulating action throughout four improvement areas: Knowledge, Houses, Transport and Community. Different grants and opportunities were presented, related to insulation, electric vehicles, renewable power production, deep retrofitting and much more.

Members of GEAI, IT Sligo and Clár I.C.H. gave interesting presentations and the evening finished with interactive workshops.

Seminar slides

We visited the CAT!

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In the middle of May we came back from a wonderful trip to Wales and England – “we” standing for Del, Siri, Jules, Sasha and Sarah. Sarah had just finished her volunteering year with us and is back home now.

So, besides some lovely towns and the beauty of the fresh green countryside, the important destination for us was the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales.

We began the visit by a water-balanced funicular railway lift. Its particularity? It exploits the river current to store water in the top-cabin reservoir. The tank on the lower cabin is empty. It allows to move both cabins thanks to gravity.

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Our visit allowed us to discover a lot of technical innovations in the energy sector (heat pump, solar panels, wind turbine, biomass), the green buildings, gardens, and biodiversity.

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We finished with a very nice meal at the vegetarian café! This visit was very inspiring and gave us hope for a future of clean energy.

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Boyle Household Energy Survey planned for April

Boyle Energy Survey

A major survey will be carried out in Boyle this week to see how residents use energy for heating, lighting, cooking and transport. This is being organised by Good Energies Alliance Ireland (GEAI), who are working with IT Sligo and SEAI to see how support can be given to the town to become more sustainable, with greater energy efficiency, smaller bills and warmer homes. We are all spending a fortune in energy and not getting the best results from it, while at the same time producing thousands of tons of carbon dioxide and damaging the atmosphere. This survey will pinpoint how people in Boyle source energy, how much they are using, and how much it costs.

GEAI volunteers are working in collaboration with Abbey Community College and the goal is to survey 10% of the houses in Boyle. Teams of surveyors with local pupils will call to homes in the evenings of the first week of April with a questionnaire and hopefully, residents will be happy to cooperate.

This survey is completely confidential, we do not ask for names and no personal details will be kept. People will be amazed at how much in spent on energy in the town! We will present the results of the survey at a Seminar towards the end of May where we can come together and make plans for better energy efficiency, while reducing our carbon footprint and availing of substantial financial and mentoring supports from SEAI and other organisations. During this event, we will also show how Boyle can become a Sustainable Energy Community (SEC) with access to new funding programmes.

 

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