My name is Hugh Caswell and I have worked as a consultant in energy efficiency for the last ten years. My background is in Energy compliance and certification. I became very frustrated at endless audits/surveys/Carbon Trust reports etc being commissioned but never resulting in any completed projects or actual energy savings measures. Therefore, I focused on giving organisations a ”quick win” on energy savings through energy efficient lighting never saving less than 50% of their current cost. I have undertaken projects in the Public and Private sector as well as the Community sector. I also have undertaken projects harnessing different technologies using a combination of lighting, Solar PV and Solar battery back-up systems, Renew supported a church in Wales which has seen their electricity bills plummet from £179 per month to less than £29 using these measures. I have been heavily involved in Asset transfer from Local Authorities and funding projects for community buildings, the best example of the latter being Ebbw Vale indoor Cricket School which received £85,000 FROM THE English County Cricket Board. Commercial organisations frequently will not touch the community sector as they see it as time consuming and unprofitable and are not willing to be trusted advisors. This is the primary reason for me Renew Wales mentoring thus to make a real difference and provide trusted support and advice with reliable and robust data to back it up. Energy efficiency and making savings for people is my passion. When people have evidence, they become believers.
Tell us about an experience with Renew…
Ebbw Vale Cricket Club. The building was in poor condition and lighting totally inadequate for a machine that can propel a cricket ball at 93mph. NCRG funded a new boiler system and asked for Renew Wales mentor help. Various meetings conducted with the community group who took over the asset from the Local Authority. In depth survey undertaken and the challenge was to give 1000 lux (from 350 lux) in order to secure an ECB grant. A series of measures were detailed for Technical Specification including a new playing surface, tensioned netting, new energy efficient glazing and a fully automated LED lighting system controlled by remote control to suit the playing conditions le professional players or amateurs. Ebbw Vale CC is now fully booked usually months in advance with teams booking from as far away as Somerset. It can be used by children schools, colleges and the disabled. This building would have been closed and vandalised with associated social problems. Instead, in a so-called area of socio-economic deprivation it is a thriving centre the only facility like it is the National Cricket Centre in Sophia Gardens Cardiff.
The centre has now been asked to take on other assets from the LA on the back of this. I am now conducting full energy audits for other community groups who are in a similar position. It shows that Local people who are volunteers can understand and embrace energy efficiency and action on climate change and run a sustainable and thriving community asset owned by the community for the community.
What is your vision of your region in 2050?
Community groups embracing climate change, energy efficiency and community energy generation and running thriving community assets. Realising the way forward to achieve lifetime sustainability is a marriage between private sector knowledge, expertise and technical resources and business acumen and community spirit with equable social and ethical practises.
That projects are owned and run by the community without huge projects being undertaken from “outside” the community that is external contractors with no interest in the locality or any interest in the circular economy with no education training or skills learning or employment for local people.
I believe this will be achieved by completing actual projects with local people in the thick of it giving them evidence and self-belief and showcasing these case studies to show what can be achieved.