June 2013 newsletter: Open Eco Homes and group challenges


Julian Huppert (MP for Cambridge) will be at the Eco Renovation Question Time this Friday June 7, to help us officially launch Open Eco Homes for 2013. A panel of homeowners and home energy experts will also be on hand to answer your questions, with discussion on anything related to eco renovation. The panel will include Peter Bates, Managing Director and founder of The 80percent Company, Alex Rice, freelance low-energy building consultant, Tim Acheson of Green Hat Construction, Andy Rankin from Midsummer Energy, and environmental consultant and eco home builder Colin Harris. In addition there will be stalls and displays with the information and inspiration you need to make your home renovation project a success, and you’ll also have the chance to meet the home owners taking part in Open Eco Homes, and book your visits (if you haven’t already!). Read more below!

We’d really love to pack the hall out for Eco Renovation Question time. Please help us by forwarding on this invitation to your contacts!

Don’t forget the cinema showing of “Peak” this Wednesday! Cambridge Carbon Footprint will introduce this award-winning documentary and chair a post-film discussion with experts.

We have a new Eating Well on a Budget challenge starting in June. Read more below and join us to learn how it is possible to eat sustainably and healthily even on a small budget.

Join our Eating Well on a Budget challenge starting 17th June

Did you know that the average UK students’ weekly food allowance is approximately £23? This challenge is designed to demonstrate that even on such a tight budget, anyone is still capable of eating good quality, local food.

Participants will have the chance to explore the contribution food makes to climate change and understand what makes food ‘sustainable’. Be prepared to indulge in the amazing diversity of our local, seasonal produce, and make some new friends at our bring-and-share meal on Monday 24 June (date to be confirmed).

Quote from a recent participant: “The challenge really made me think about how much I ate and what I really needed to have an enjoyable, nutritious diet. I actually felt healthier during these four weeks, as I never over-ate …and I found I had more energy.” (Bev)

The challenge will begin on Monday 17 June and will last for two weeks until Friday 28 June. For more information, have a look at the challenge page and sustainable food blog on our website.

If you would like to take part in this challenge, or have any questions regarding it then please email elaina@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org.

Green Film Festival: Documentary ‘Peak’ about tourism in the Alps 5 June

Wednesday 5 June, 6.20 – 8.50pm, Cambridge Arts Picturehouse

Cambridge Carbon Footprint will introduce this award-winning documentary and chair a post-film discussion with experts Dr Joe Smith (Senior Lecturer in Environment, the Open University) and Professor Peter Wadhams (Head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group, University of Cambridge). This is what the makers say about the film: “The mountains are calling! Every year thousands of tourists flock to the white winter paradise of the mountains. Due to climate change and the lack of snow, it has been necessary to develop powerful technology in order to produce the ideal landscape. ‘Peak’ observes this process of transformation over the course of a year and asks vital questions about the relationship between nature and technology and our longstanding need for a paradise on earth..”

For more information, see here. To book, contact the Cambridge Arts Picturehouse in the usual way (online booking here or phone 0871 902 5720).

Eco Renovation Question Time 7 June

Friday 7 June, 7.30 – 9.30pm, Emmanuel United Reform Church, Trumpington Street

Help us gear up for Open Eco Homes with this fun and informative event. Join a panel of experts and pose your questions or topics for discussion on anything related to eco renovation.

Our OEH sponsors will also be in the room, with information and displays to help you get the information you need to make your home renovation project a success. If you haven’t chosen your Open Eco Homes to visit by this event, you will have a chance to look at the options before making your selection.

Booking is not necessary, just turn up.

Open Eco Homes 2013

Saturday 15 June, 10.30am – 3.30pm
Sunday 23 June, 10.30am – 3.30pm

Open Eco Homes returns for another year! 15 homes in Cambridge and the surrounding area will be opening their doors and providing inspiration for eco-rennovation of all types.

If you’re new to Open Eco Homes, it’s easy:

– Visit http://openecohomes.org to check out the homes which are available and on the date you want. There are four tours of each home, 10:30, 12:00, 14:00 and 15:30. Some homes will be open both days, 15th and 23rd June, some will only be open for one.

– When you have selected the homes, dates and preferred times, email or call us to make a booking (we are now taking bookings).

– We will confirm your booking with any information you need to know, such as the specific house number of the home you want to visit (these are kept confidential until booking)

Details of homes to visit are now available at http://openecohomes.org.

Warm Homes in Mill Road 2 November – Mark the date in your diary!

Saturday 2 November, 10.30am – 5.30pm, Ross Street Community Centre

A home energy day for the Mill Road area, with:

  • talks and workshops by home energy experts
  • visits to local houses with energy-saving improvements
  • videos of local homes with the householder & an energy expert
  • stalls from reliable local suppliers and installers
  • expert advice about your particular situation
  • the latest information about the government’s Green Deal loans

The main focus will be on the many pre-1920s houses in the area (and much of Cambridge) which have solid walls and are therefore more difficult and expensive to insulate (and how the Green Deal can help with this)

There will also be information about more recent housing, a DIY workshop & “How to get the best out of your house at no extra cost”,
– which are suitable for everyone.

Call for ideas for low-carbon leisure activities!

To link with the showing of the documentary ‘Peak’, about the effect of skiing in the Alps, showing at the Arts Picturehouse this Wednesday, we are trying to pull together ideas for low-carbon holidays and other leisure activities. If you have really enjoyed some low-carbon trips, whether around Cambridge or further afield, or if you have great ideas for low-carbon activities, whether for children or adults, please let us know and we’ll create a section for these ideas on our website! Email info@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org

Living well with less stuff event and challenge

To celebrate a full year of our ‘Living Well with Less Stuff’ challenge, we held a panel discussion and swap shop at St Andrews Baptist Street church on Wednesday 22nd May. It was a very lively, buzzy evening, attended by 44 people – lots of discussion and lots of swaps (with hardly anything left to take to charity shops the next day!). Read more about it here. We would also love to welcome more people to the challenge, which is continuing – whether you are interested in participating for a month or a year or just seeing how it goes, do get in touch.

Update on ‘The Spirit Level’ film

Last year we put something in the newsletter about the making of ‘The Spirit Level’ documentary, which is being funded by lots of individuals like us. A few days ago I got an update on how they are doing and I found it really inspiring, so here’s the link, in case you are interested. It was one of the books we most enjoyed last year in the CCF book group – all about the importance of social equality and the knock-on positive effect this has on other issues, including climate change.

Interesting Guardian comment on passing the 400ppm milestone last week

I thought Andrew Simms’ Guardian blog post on the lack of interest in the press about reaching 400ppm (parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere) was thought-provoking. This lack of interest contrasts markedly with the scientific consensus on the threat posed by man-made climate change.

Why not switch to Good Energy for your home energy? ‘Which’ says it has the best customer service of all energy providers

It may be a bit sad of me, but I actually enjoy reading the e-newsletters from our electricity provider, Good Energy, as they usually have something interesting to say about renewable energy around the country. (Their electricity is generated 100% by renewables.) I was, therefore, very pleased to see that ‘Which’, the consumer magazine, rated Good Energy top for customer service in their latest survey – in fact all the small, environmentally friendly energy providers did well, while the ‘Big Six’ (npower, EFT etc) came out really badly. I must say that I’ve always found the customer service at Good Energy excellent (and they don’t cost a lot more than the Big Six) – and, no, I am not being paid to say any of this!

Transition Cafe – All about forest schools 13 June

Thursday 13 June, 7.30 – 9pm, CB1 cafe, 32 Mill Road

Could you imagine learning outdoors, and a forest being a classroom as well as a place to play? Julie-Ann is near completing a training course on forest schools and will share with us what she has learned about what forest schools are like, how they work and the sorts of results they can have. Here’s a quote – ‘A forest school is an inspirational concept providing learning opportunities through practical activities in an outdoor environment. Participants of all ages enjoy the freedom to explore and experience the natural world in all seasons and all weathers.’ The format will be a talk plus plenty of time for questions and discussion. More info on forest schools here http://www.forestschools.com/

Energy forum – solid wall insulation 27 June

Thursday 27 June, 7.30 – 9.30pm, St. Lukes Church Centre, Victoria Road

Does your home have a solid wall? If so now is a good time to be thinking about insulating them because there is financial help available for all through the Green Deal and the ECO grant scheme. Come to our forum and find out all about it. We will have industry experts on external and internal insulation for you to quiz, plus some of our friends who have done it to tell you about the experience.

More info here:


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