So you crave that low-impact, low carbon, environmentally prudish living but what if you live in an older house, are saddled with a mortgage, or don’t have the cash to put into a new, green home? There’s still hope and it currently springs from Europe. The Superhomes Project in the United Kingdom is a conglomeration of people just like you. They saw the need for change, but didn’t necessarily have the means to start from scratch. Instead, they decided to promote the benefits of retro-fitting their existing homes and inspire others to do the same.
The goal is to create a network of 500 energy-saving pioneers across the UK who reduce their carbon footprint by 60%. The National Energy Foundation (NEF), at the forefront of improving energy use in buildings since 1988, has provided professional support for SuperHomes since the Sustainable Energy Academy (SEA) initiated the project in 2007/8. As of 1st March 2014, SEA in practice merged with NEF, helping ensure SuperHomes continues to grow and thrive. So far, the network consists of 180 volunteer homeowners who have banded together to demonstrate that low-carbon living can be accomplished in an existing home. These people are not CEOs, architects, contractors, or any of that ilk; they are simply ordinary citizens who want to set an example, bettering their lives while saving the planet’s.
Each of these Superhomes innovators are happy to open their homes to the public and respond to emails and questions about the different approaches they took. Superhomes visiting days are in March and September, and already, these 180 homes have received over 70,000 visitors. The Superhomes Project’s website has hundreds of thousands of visitors who are utilizing the articles and videos to green their own homes. The website boasts over 500 individual visitors per day, and according to one survey, the average Superhomes visitor leaves intending to spend about €3,000 in energy-saving improvements over the course of the next year.
So far, the Superhomes Project has been successful enough that they plan on meeting their goal of a 500-person network before 2020. It is an inspirational project that has taken the eco-heart of the UK by storm. Anyone who has been inspired to retrofit their home to reduce their carbon emissions is welcomed into the network, as long as their emissions are reduced by 60%.
John Doggart, Chairman of the Sustainable Energy Academy has said of the project, “I don’t quite know why we’re all so embarrassed about talking about saving the planet, but out there, people are doing these things because they want to make a change. It may just be the early adopters who are doing it – that’s quite possible – but it’s a strong motivating cause.” Doggart added that people’s motivations for joining the network were mainly concern over global warming and saving money on energy bills.
SuperHomes is setting an aspiring standard as a means of inspiring energy efficiency by being part of an motivated network of sustainable homes. Gordon Glass, Online Marketing Manager of Superhomes, makes this point: “Older housing is a great place to make lasting carbon savings through low energy refurbishment. By promoting inspirational retrofit homes and their pioneering owners, we encourage others to follow their example.” And the Superhomes Project is doing just that. Take your cues from this booming UK club; do what you can with what you have and set an example for others.