Friday, 15 December 2017

What we do at Christmas

How do you celebrate the Christmas holiday? Is it possible to have a great time and still keep sustainability in mind? I asked people at the Transition Cambridge winter social what they do and this is what they said. Food, presents and the tree were the main topics: here is a miscellany of answers, including a discussion of whether or not brussels sprouts contribute to climate change and how to mitigate the problem of discarded Christmas jumpers.
A venerable tree, with modern LED lights and some presents wrapped in reusable furoshiki cloths

Sunday, 19 November 2017

We did it - world's biggest repair cafe

Our aim was to beat the world record which was 150 repairs. We didn't just break it, we totally smashed it with 232 completely successful repairs. Here are some pictures from the fabulous repair cafe at Wesley Methodist Church on Christ's pieces, Saturday 11th November.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Why Pitch Up Pitch In?

I'm a bit nervous about our first Pitch Up Pitch In event (28th November). Will you come and will you pitch in? Even if you don't volunteer this time, as Charlotte (the bike rack lady) says: It should be a fun day where we meet new people, share ideas and promote the concepts of collaboration and co-operation.

Projects range from hands-on to literary/IT, marketing, technology ...
Our projects offer something to everyone. They range from hands-on like the bike racks and the downspout rain gardens, to the literary/IT-centric social media workshop. The Solar Power Push project is probably in the middle. I think it needs some technology and a lot of marketing and probably other skills. Project durations range from a few weeks (bike racks and comms workshop) to possibly years (Solar Power Push). Most of them are at a fairly early planning stage and where they end up probably depends a lot on who pitches in. The key thing is they are all worth doing - each in their own way would contribute to making Cambridge a more sustainable city and a nicer place to live.

A previous project in Empty Common Community
Garden: putting a green roof on a shed.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Community Energy - a review

This is a review of the book Community Energy: A guide to community - based renewable energy projects by Gordon Cowtan published by  Green Books

The book is an excellent introduction to Community Energy for lay people and students. It starts by covering some key issues around what is the raison d'etre for community energy projects - usually this involves some degree of energy generation or energy saving, sharing of benefits with the community and environmental sustainability. Then it looks at energy generating technologies; this section is quite comprehensive, even including anaerobic digestion though there are no real world of community AD as yet. The advice is strictly practical: what do you need, how much will it cost (considering operational and maintenance too), planning issues, subsidies available.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Would you like an itemised electricity bill? Please help make this possible.

When you go shopping in a supermarket you expect to see the price of each item marked and if you are watching the pennies you probably have a good estimate of what the final bill will be before you go to the checkout. But when you get your electricity bill you have little idea how much of that is for the lighting, the TV, the washing machine, the freezer or whatever. Would you like to know? There are companies working on this. They are developing algorithms to look at your electricity use at high frequency (many times a second) and recognise the patterns of use from each of your appliances so they can calculate how much each one is using. At the end of each day they will be able to tell you how much energy you have used and what for (at least for the major appliances) so that you can calculate the cost and the carbon emissions. For the last two weeks I have been helping this to come about by taking part in a study conducted by Informetis. You can help too.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

One step towards a low carbon vision for Cambridge

At the Energy Group meeting in April we started a discussion on what a low carbon Cambridge might look like and how to get there. The plan is to make a list of possible strategies, whittle this down to a manageable number that are practical and will make a real difference, then see what we can do to promote them. Needless to say, we didn't manage all that in one meeting!  Also we didn't restrict ourselves to just energy issues. Our initial list of strategies is:

  • Very high levels of recycling
  • Less energy intensive lifestyles
  • Eating less meat and animal products
  • Lots more insulation in homes and other buildings
  • Lots more street level PV on rooftops
  • LED street lights
  • High levels of walking and cycling (and possibly electric bikes)
  • Much greater use of public transport
  • Polluting cars banned from the city centre
  • Congestion charging in the city centre
  • Hydrogen fuel stations for e.g. buses
  • District heating by CHP
  • Underground inter-seasonal heat storage
  • Smart charging for cars, with vehicle to grid (V2G) energy storage services
  • Grid connected battery storage (possibly flow batteries)
Would you like to take part in this discussion? The notes are in a shared document on google drive but I can't give you the link here for fear of spammers. You can access a readonly (pdf) version here . If I know you and you would like to take part let me know.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Fun on the Veg Patch: Learning how to Grow your Own

Learning new skills is fun and easy when you do it with others! Our roving photographer, Elena Moses was out and about last week on a beautiful Spring Saturday at Trumpington Allotments, with our allotment expert and veggie growing guru,  Dave Fox.

He's back  to tending  his patch after a spell of illness and  loves  to share his passion and knowledge with new and more experienced growers.   From how to keep your precious soil where it belongs, to knowing your roses when it comes to sowing potatoes, there are some handy tips and tricks waiting to be harvested along with the last of the winter leeks and parsnips.  Elena has  compiled a photo essay about her experience, which you can see on our new Transition Cambridge Flickr page. To join in,  look out for Dave's next Grow your Own session in the Transition Bulletin. Enjoy!