Light Fantastic

Name

Light Fantastic

Organisation

Marches Energy Agency with E.ON, Awards for All, Megaman, Keep Shropshire Warm and Staffordshire Moorlands District Council.

Summary

Light Fantastic is a mobile exhibition, which visits communities and schools, town centres and supermarkets across the Midlands. It showcases energy efficient technology and techniques, using low energy lighting as a focus and initial draw to visitors. Visitors can then be introduced to topics such as behavioural change and renewable technology.

The aims

  • To engage people in energy and climate change issues in a range of ways – through presentation of facts, discussion, display, entertainment and hands on experience of energy efficient technology.
  • To visit a wide variety of communities and impact on a broad cross-section of society.
  • To bring these elements to people, rather than relying on people seeking them out.
  • An engagement and education opportunity for many thousands of people.
  • Publicity of local and national grants and energy efficiency schemes.

The challenges

  • Delivering a large number of events, both on a low budget and concentrated around weekends and in the summer months.
  • Concentrating and collating a wide range of information and advice into clear simple messages.
  • Creating fun engagement tools.
  • Finding funding.

The solutions

  • Light Fantastic has interactive elements such as a carbon countdown game for children, an energy bike and displays of a wide range of low energy lighting.
  • It signposts visitors to local information and grants as well as carrying generic information on all aspects of energy saving and generation.
  • Low energy light bulbs and PowerDown units provided by E.ON were distributed to visitors to try out at home.
  • A broad portfolio of funding was put together, much of which was not evident or available at the start of the project. A certain amount of faith and investment on behalf of MEA was needed to start up the project.
  • Seed funding of £20 000 from the initial project partners, enabled us to get the tested concept out onto the road.
  • Twenty volunteers were involved with the exhibition, from administrative functions to delivery of energy efficiency advice.

The results

  • In all, Light Fantastic was taken to 75 locations over two years, distributing 55,000 low energy light bulbs and 8,000 PowerDown units.
  • 59,000 people visited the exhibition at 77 events and the distribution of light bulbs and PowerDowns will result in the saving of 8,254 tonnes CO2 and £3,743,000 retained in the local economy.
  • 31 local authorities assisted.
  • 22 schools were visited.
  • Use of volunteers helped to keep costs down, whilst also increasing the scope and impacts of the project
  • Using a broad range of project manager’s talents and skills, combined with many years experience in public engagement enabled us to develop the tools we needed to make the project a success.

“I engaged more members of the public in two hours while assisting on the Light Fantastic exhibition than I have in the whole previous year of events.”

Local Authority Climate Change officer

“Thank you for making the event excellent last week! I’ve had lots of very positive feedback about your contribution and I think you made the day. People have said you really inspired them and woke them up!”

LSP Representative

Learning points

  • We have established that this form of engagement works especially with those that would not traditionally seek energy efficiency advice or engage with the topic.
  • What really works well is the availability of items to give away – it draws people into the exhibition, forming a bond which allows deeper discussions on energy efficiency.
  • What has also been found to be a positive learning – compared to traditional forms of local authority engagement – is the lack of ‘green’ or ‘climate change’ branding. The emphasis has been placed on positive images and a lack of guilt forming messages.
  • The funding of such a project remains complex and problematic as it is still innovative.
  • We are seeking now to move on from low energy lighting as a focus to on whole house energy efficiency. This adaptation of the project will be called ‘Fantastic Home’ and should hit the road mid 2010.

SWM comment

We like that these events have been able to reach so many people especially those who would not usually respond to messages about energy efficiency.

Contact

For more information visit the Marches Energy Agency website, phone 01743 277114 or email sarah@mea.org.uk.