Monday, 24 November 2008

Waitati Energy Project (column)

Waitati Energy Project

In the first week of December there's a Waitati Energy Project event
in Waitati Hall. 'Waitati Research Feedback: a Public Meeting' on
Thursday 4 December will be held straight after work, from 5.30 – 7pm.
Researchers from the Otago Energy Research Centre will present final
and interim research results from the research projects done or
ongoing in Waitati.

There have been (or are) four different research projects in Waitati this year:

1. "Is Small Beautiful? Attitudes towards community owned wind energy
in Waitati" is the title of a dissertation by Matthew Hoffman, who
conducted 13 face-to-face interviews in Waitati. This is a really
interesting study because the WEP has been operating for over a year
now, but despite well attended public meetings, successful expos,
support for initiatives, and a big email list, we can't assume that
all of Waitati is supportive or interested. We'll discover much more
about ourselves through Matthew's work. And what would getting a
locally owned and operated wind turbine running involve?

2. "Visualising Home Energy Efficiency" is Jess Hugh's Research
Project. Jess followed the implementation of the government's Home
Energy Rating Scheme in Waitati. Her study took place through an
interesting period – remember the drama? – and should answer some of
the questions aired locally about the usefulness of energy ratings in
general. (I'll have the last of those HERS certificates on hand as
well).

3. Claire Freeman will present on "Children and Transport": research
on children's travel patterns in their day-to-day lives - how they
move around (on foot, bicycle, Mum's car etc). Children at Waitati
School participated in this study, which includes a number of schools
around the Dunedin and Claire will talk about her findings including
differences between Dunedin locations. There are big implications in
this, for children, parents and road users.

4. The "baseline survey" is something Martha Bell is coordinating for
the Otago Energy Research Centre. Janet Stephenson will be on hand to
explain the survey, which has only just begun. It has gone out to 178
Waitati households and in the survey we householders are asked about
how energy is used in our homes and our lives, we're asked our views
on energy-related issues, how we learn new ideas, and if/how we are
making changes in our energy use. This piece of research is very
valuable for the Blueskin area because it will give us hard data and
help the WEP design actions in and for the community. Please complete
the survey! (the OERC is putting completed surveys in for a prize
draw, with prizes to be distribute just prior to Christmas).

Following the presentations we'll have some cups of tea as usual and a
brief WEP get-together to begin forming a more focused steering
group/committee for the WEP. This will be a short meeting of
interested people. So if you have a burning desire to get more
involved, this is the moment!

Library expansion

The Waitati Energy Project is keen to support the project team for the
Blueskin Bay Library Expansion to make the new structure energy
efficient, innovative and local. I'm excited about our community
expertise (engineers, architects, builders, pragmatists) working with
DCC Energy Manager Neville Auton, and the DCC architect in a
partnership as the library is such a crucial local institution and a
public building reflecting our community.

Remember the Bulk Insulation Purchasing offer (the WEP offer to
negotiate and coordinate a bulk purchase if there is the interest
locally)? Well, to date very few people have registered their interest
so we're just keeping the door open. I know it is hard to think
'insulation' when the weather is so lovely, but it really is a bit
late when the house is freezing in winter, or costing a fortune to
heat while the children can't get rid of that hacking cough. Yet how
can the WEP make it easy and attractive to make our houses more energy
efficient, healthy and cheaper to maintain? This is a question we
haven't yet got a full answer for but we're working on it!

Finally, if you want a bigger overview of the WEP than I can provide
in one column, and even if you are on the email list, our web-pages
are a start. For the WEP, go to:
http://www.transitiontowns.org.nz/waitati and follow the WEP links.
And, as usual, if you want to keep regularly up-to-date please contact
the WEP at: scott.willis@otago.ac.nz or 482 2249.

by Scott Willis

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