About the Pilot project 2013 and evaluation

Winchester Action on Climate Change (WinACC) has adapted the Cool Communities handbook from the award winning Low Carbon Diet written by David Gershon, a US behavioural change expert. The updated handbook has been adpated to be relevant for a UK audience.

In 2013 Winchester City Council commissioned WinACC to carry out a pilot project of the Cool Communities approach as a proof of concept in the Winchester District. Leaders were recruited in a variety of ways and 13 EcoGroups set up in and around the Winchester District between May 2013 and January 2014.

Carbon reduction and evaluation data were collected via leader and participant evaluation forms. Quantitative data was analysed to identify the top and average responses and qualitative data was analysed via pattern matching and then summarised into broad categories.

The average carbon emission reduction by the participant households was 1.5 tonnes. Of the 13 EcoGroups created, ten (49 participants) completed at least two meetings.

 The conclusion is that the programme is worth pursuing, subject to these recommendations:

1. Recruitment from personal friends does not work as this is viewed as a primarily social event. Recruitment works best by direct face to face contact either by neighbours or people within membership organisations. Leaders must be willing to form groups from their own neighbourhood if possible; if not, from people with whom they are in a community of interest (such as a society).

2. Training for group leaders needs to be developed, focussing on the recruitment approach (including the script) and how to managed and monitor their group members.

3. Introductory meetings are essential to reduce participant drop out.

4. The leaders should have more proactive support while their EcoGroup is running.

5. The handbook needs to be less wordy, more user friendly, logical and visually appealing. 

Download the full Pilot evaluation report below

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