Change Agents have been providing high quality technical support to the University of Worcester for some time now. Part of our service was to meet the project’s recruitment needs. We thought that this would be a great opportunity for Change Agent, Peng Li, Project Manager of Energize Worcester to fill us in on what has been happening with the project. Here is Pengs’ blog ….
Energize Worcester is an energy conservation project ran by Worcester Students’ Union (WSU) in the University of Worcester. It is funded by Higher Education Funding Council for England’s (HEFCE) Student Green Fund (SGF). SGF is the first of this kind with a grand total of £5 million to support 25 students’ unions sustainability projects across the UK. The main aim for Energize Worcester is to try to develop an effective model to encourage students that live in private accommodation to learn and adopt appropriate energy habits. This project will also be partnered with the University of Birmingham in year two in order to compare the project impact under different student tenure. The target is to engage 450 student homes with the potential to impact 2,025 students over the two year project duration.
Project progress so far
In order to monitor the behaviour change process, Energize Worcester has developed bespoke online software to provide feedback on student tenants’ energy consumption and property profile. Students been recruited and trained to become certified Energy Advisers to support peers with house energy survey and energy advice. Energize Worcester also work closely with students across a range of academic backgrounds, one notable example is the creative campaign from creative media students. The third year creative media students worked with Energize Worcester in the module ‘Pressure Project’. Five groups of five students needed to turn a brief into a creative awareness campaign including artworks within a 24 hour period. The winning campaign was adopted by Energize Worcester as its key campaign strategy, and the winning team was awarded with cash prizes (see below).
The winning concept uses limbo dancing as a symbol to encourage energy reduction and a healthy and active lifestyle. Their campaign slogan ‘How Low Can you Go’ and orange and black theme have been received well by the majority students during focus group studies. Adopting the concept, Energize Worcester has developed its front facing website and relevant social media page.
Go Green Week is an annual sustainability week led by students in the University of Worcester. It usually happens in the beginning of February. Energize Worcester set up its stall in the Students Union building through the week. Despite the unprecedented flood in Worcester during the week, Energize still gained some very positive engagements from students.
The project is now up and running with a substantial number of student properties registered. Energy Advocates also paid visits to some houses for individual peer to peer support. Some houses will be installed with smart meters over the summer, while students from Worcester Polytech Institute, US, will be joining Energize Worcester during the summer to support energy conservation in local community.
Peng Li is the project manager of Energize Worcester; an innovative project that aims to tackle poor energy efficiency in privately rented student accommodations. Born in China, Peng had all his university education in the UK. He is interested in communication in sustainability, with particular focus on energy conservation and domestic energy efficiency. Peng has an MA in Sustainable Development Advocacy; he was also a guest speaker at Low Carbon Earth Summit 2013, in Xi’an, China, one of the parallel forums in the Euro-Asia Economic Forum.