Investing in Sustainability

This module covers:

  • How to raise awareness of energy
  • Case studies on the topic

It is a recurring theme from communities who have been processing funds for a few years that they wish to leave a ‘legacy’. There is a notion that the funds should be reinvested in energy efficiency measures, or microrenewables, but often communities lack the time and resources to effectively achieve this.

A report by Consumer Focus Scotland in 2011 found that there is a need for short and long term support for communities wishing to undertake fuel poverty and energy efficiency measures in their community.

Both communities and developers want to see ‘legacy’ projects, and it is felt that by investing in energy efficiency, microrewables and fuel poverty, the wind development continues to contribute towards sustainability and the environment.

Assessing need

Firstly, you may need to assess whether fuel poverty is a particular problem in your area. Fuel poverty is the term given to households where over 10% of income is spent on fuel to keep the home at a comfortable temperature.

You may be able to assess individual need through a door-to-door survey, if you have the resources available. You could undertake a survey in the centre of your village or town, but note that this may not capture those who are less mobile and perhaps more in need.

Energy affordability is a growing issue across Scotland, and alongside Scottish Government targets on carbon reduction, energy efficiency measures are an ideal channel for your community benefit funds.

You can either use your funds to:

  • Promote existing Government services and provide information
  • Support the development of locally based staff who could work with householders to help them access energy efficiency services, reducing both energy costs and carbon emissions.

An area-based approach which offers advice to everyone is generally more effective than individual delivery. You can bring together support to help reduce carbon emissions from those who are using more energy, as well as helping those who are struggling to pay.


Many of the steps you can take in reducing fuel poverty include raising awareness – firstly of what might be causing households to be in fuel poverty, and secondly how they can be helped.

The Scottish Government has schemes in place to help those in fuel poverty, so it may be that you do not even need to spend funds on these measures, but simply on helping individuals access these schemes. Could you fund:

  • An event for the local community, to get people together and find out more about fuel poverty and energy efficiency?
  • A door-to-door service, educating householders about the issues surrounding fuel poverty, and how they can help?
  • Documentation specifically targeted at your community, to be distributed through doors or left in prominent places in your community?

Recognise that for some, fuel poverty will be a sensitive issue, so you may want to give people the opportunity to approach the topic with some care.

There are opportunities to use your funds as match funding for certain schemes, for example Climate Challenge Funds or LEADER. Your local authority will be closely involved in fuel poverty and may be able to help you or collaborate with you in joining up funding. Your local authority’s approach will be different to others’, so be sure to find out what their level of involvement is. Most local authorities are looking to encourage more strategic use of funds, and energy efficiency fits well with this.

Case study 1 (Consumer Focus Scotland, 2012)

Ardoch Development Trust supported the provision of a range of activities including:

  • Hiring a local shop to provide energy efficiency advice
  • Providing household energy audits and thermal imaging
  • Supporting the development of allotments and community transport
  • Establishing an oil-buying club to offer discounts on purchase
  • Organisation of an eco-day, where many of the suppliers were invited along
  • Creating a development officer or local energy champion
  • Development of case study materials

Find out more about Ardoch Development Trust here:

Case study 2

Barrhill CIC have developed an Action Plan which identifies energy conservation and generation as one of the area’s top priorities. This theme was further developed into three priorities, with individual actions, as follows:

Develop a sustainable energy generation project

  • Take forward the outline for a locally focused feasibility study already prepared by the Energy Working Group in association with the Energy Agency. The outline references small scale wind turbines and hydro schemes, ground source heat pumps and bio-mass (wood) boilers

Develop an energy saving project for homes and businesses

  • Seek information and advice on communitywide energy saving measures – insulation, draughtproofing, household “habit-changing”
  • Visit other communities to gain information about other parallel local programmes
  • Set up an information promotion event and other publicity measures
  • Seek support for energy auditing tools and techniques – e.g. Smart meters, thermal imaging and questionnaires
  • Draw up a programme for installation priorities in Barrhill households
  • Seek financial support for this last item

Develop a sustainable energy project for community buildings

  • Ensure that the three public buildings in the village – school, hall, health centre – include energy generation and saving measures in any forward planning – e.g. the proposed Feasibility
  • Study into the future of the Memorial Hall.
  • In particular, create a focus on possible joint energy generation (for heating in the main) for the neighbouring hall and school buildings.