On the weekend of September 11th and 12th last year we held our first open eco-homes event. Fifty two real homes which had undergone environmental improvements were opened to the public at no charge. The homes, which were flats or houses, privately-owned or rental, were open for at least two sessions over the weekend. Within these the householders explained their homes’ features and gave tours. They also presented their “Home Information Sheet” (HIS) which detailed the works that had taken place and the benefits and which are also downloadable from the Homes page of this website.
The event had a neighbourhood focus with clusters of homes in the following areas: Bishopston and St Andrews, BS3, Clifton and Clifton Wood, Easton, Fishponds and Frenchay, Long Ashton, Montpelier, Redland and Cotham, St Werburghs, Totterdown and Knowle, and Westbury on Trym.
15,000 city wide maps showing hub locations were distributed across the city. Neighbourhood maps, showing the local homes were available in the hubs, local shops and as a download from the website. The individual homes were in turn identified on the street by green balloons hung on each door. Hubs in neighbourhoods and partners’ buildings had interpretation boards of the event, the technologies on display and maps.
A two month programme of events such as courses, talks and workshops to maintain profile and support retrofitting open eco-homes followed up the weekend.
The event was the largest event of its kind ever in the UK and was a clear all round success. It provided excellent opportunities for visitors to learn through peer to peer interaction, about how to improve domestic energy efficiency through retrofitting. An average of over fifty visits was made to each home. 96% of visitors’ felt the event was a good way to learn and nearly 70% were more likely to install related solutions as a result of attending. Most interest was in solar, insulation and windows. All sponsors reported positive interest following the event. 87% of householders will definitely do the event again and many have engaged further with developing the project. Participating in the event was a positive experience for volunteers.
The project’s approach and design was described by the Energy Saving Trust as “the most holistic approach to community energy efficiency and domestic retrofitting” that they had seen and it was consequently taken up as a pilot project in their national exemplar open homes scheme.