Community Carbon Footprint

As Talybont-on-Usk Energy is trying to help Talybont-on-Usk Community Council area become the first carbon neutral community in Wales it was important that there was a baseline so that we knew where we were starting from.

As I had experience of coordinating community carbon footprinting in Knighton and Presteigne it was decided that I would use the leassons learnt there to coordinate the Talybont-on-Usk community carbon footprint. The questionnaire that was used was one that was originally put together by the guys at the Wasteless Society based in Bishops Castle.

The way that this type of footprinting works is that volunteers are trained to go into peoples homes to ask them about their energy use and to gather some information about what renewable energy systems they are interested in. Volunteers only talk to friends, neighbours and relatives in the community that they know unless people come forward and ask to be footprinted or volunteers are happy to cold call.

It had been hoped that the footprint would include businesses and community buildings. Unfortunately due to one thing and another the final footprint only included households.

9 volunteers received their first training in November 2007. The aim of this project was to to carbon footprint 10% of the households in the Talybont-on-Usk Community Council area. I actually felt that this was quite an optimistic target as other communities I had done this with and others that I had read about often only achieved a 3% sample of the community. However, I felt that it was important to aim for 10% as this would give us a more statistically accurate figure at the end of the project. As the Talybont-on-Usk Community Council area only has 316 households according to the last census I hoped that asking 9 volunteers to survey just 31-32  households between them would be achievable.

The deadline for reaching the target of 10% was Easter 2008. Such a long deadline was given as Christmas was not far away which slows things down and people often do not want to be going out and about too much in the bad weather of the new year.

As it was such a long time period volunteers were give refresher training in the second half of January and regular catch up meetings were held.

The final result was the 30 households were surveyed – so we were only just short of our 10% target. Based on what we measured (heating, electricity, miles traveled by all types of vehicle) I calculated that the average carbon footprint of each person in the Community Council area is 6.56 tonnes compared to a UK national average of 10 tonnes. The main reason for the Talybont figure being so much lower than the national average is that air travel only accounts for 18.97% of the Talybont emissions compared to 34% for the national average. The people living int he surveyed area do not travel by plane as much as most.

It is great to know where we are currently at so that we have a basis for all work in the future.

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