Our office has once again hummed this month. In brief, we have submitted on the DCC’s and the ORC’s annual plans (see 2014 Submissions for a copy); we are busy promoting the Cosy Homes FREE insulation and the Home Performance Assessments; we have conducted a number of one-on-one interviews with members of the community (from commercial farmers to backyard growers), collected a number of questionnaires, and held evening focus groups in Waitati, Karitane and Purakaunui for the Blueskin Food System Assessment; we have made some final (technical) tweaks to our Climate Change Planning Report with the expert assistance of the ORC and the DCC; we have presented our report to the Waikouaiti Coast Community Board; and we are working hard to find the final $$’s for the solar panels to be installed on the roof of our office (keep an eye out for the upcoming PledgeMe campaign). Blueskin wind work continues and by the time you read this our Annual General Meeting will have been held and planning set for the year ahead. This month though I want to focus on just one of our projects, and because of the FREE (yes, it really is free!) insulation, I think Cosy Homes should be it.
In 2009 Blueskin was the focus of a pilot for the soon-to-be-launched Warm Up NZ scheme. After being invited to Wellington to talk to EECA about our community energy work, BRCT was sub-contracted by the Otago Regional Council to facilitate the pilot. Our role was to work the social networks and ensure that insulation got to where it was needed. In just over 4 months, at a cost of approximately $780,000, well over 400 homes received 80% subsidised insulation, from Hampden to Mosgiel (but centred on Blueskin). This example proved what a motivated community could achieve. Feeding off this motivation and drive is what led to the idea of Cosy Homes (a term coined by Chris Freear in 2012) and was initially kicked off because Dunedin City Council staff, along with the Otago Community Trust, Presbyterian Support Otago and BRCT pulled together all interested parties to discuss how we might better work together to achieve warm and cosy homes in Dunedin. The result was the first Cosy Homes Workshop which took place in September 2013 and was attended by over 70 stakeholders, including businesses, social organisations, the health sector, landlords, Iwi and Government agencies. The Symposium came up with the vision "every home in Dunedin is warm and cosy by 2025" and established a steering group to manage the next stage in the process; the establishment of a leadership or governance group to unite all the current and future work towards the vision. The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) provided seed funding of $10,000 to assist with this work.
So where are we now? The Cosy Homes Governance Group has been established. It’s role is to provide leadership and direction to achieve a warmer Dunedin over the next eleven years. Numerous organisations are now involved – too many to mention here but you’ll find a list of them all on our website.
The group has met twice and Cr MacTavish has attended these meetings in an unofficial capacity. The group now seeks a formal commitment from the Dunedin City Council. Mayor Dave Cull has indicated a willingness to participate and chair the group, and Cr MacTavish has also advised that she would be willing to continue on it if the Council members approve this.
Whilst this group continues to work on longer term plans to achieve the vision, the group has already, with support from the ORC and EECA, been able to leverage a project where houses with tenants who have a Community Services Card and either high health needs or children under 17 or adults over 65 can have ceiling and under floor insulation installed for FREE. But there are a few provisos: the areas to be insulated must be accessible, the house must have been built before the year 2000 and it must be possible to do the job now – there is a time-limit on the FREE offer as funding runs out by the end of June.