Trust Horizon has approved a $250,000 grant to facilitate a new programme, designed to empower Eastern Bay whānau to improve their health and wellbeing through energy education and home repairs. The Trust’s support has enabled the project to secure a further $200,000 from MBIE’s Support for Energy Education in Communities fund, and a potential further $50,000 from Bay Trust.
“The nation is collectively realising that we have allowed housing conditions to degrade over a period of decades,” says Nik Gregg, Co-Founder of Sustainability Options, the altruistic business spearheading the programme. “This is having a massive impact on our most at-risk families. The project seeks to empower those families to reduce their energy costs, and at the same time improve their health and wellbeing.”
Co-funded by the Government and Bay Trust, the new programme combines Sustainability Options’ energy wellbeing initiative with their 20 Degrees project.
“Major government-funded insulation and heating activity is unfortunately always going to be compromised by minor issues that let draughts into the home, such as broken windows, hinges, and latches,” says Gregg.
“We started the 20 Degrees programme with the objective of filling the gap in funding for those small repairs, and getting a home to the position where it can sustain 20 Degrees on a cold winter’s night.”
Seeing the success of 20 Degrees in Rotorua and Tauranga, Trust Horizon approached Sustainability Options with plans to bring the project to the Eastern Bay of Plenty.
“The Trust saw the great work that was happening right next door, and recognised the opportunity to bring those benefits and secure funding for the Eastern Bay,” says Trust Manager, Derek Caudwell.
“In combining energy wellbeing and 20 Degrees, this new programme is a uniquely well-rounded one. It turns conversations into actions, covering education and behavioural change, right through to minor repairs and maintenance. We’re very pleased to be part of the collaborative effort to make it happen.”
As part of the new programme, homes that are struggling will receive a visit to determine their health and energy performance. Sustainability Options will then create a plan involving further energy education, and implementation of improvements and repairs.
The programme also plans to measure the homes’ ongoing energy use, to track improvements and identify successes.
“The initial homes involved in the programme are those that are already on our radar, as part of our community relationships with health providers and local Iwi,” says Gregg. “They’re homes with young children, the elderly, kuia and koro. 20 homes have signed up already, and we hope to involve a total of 333 in the programme’s first year.”
The energy education component of the programme will extend outside the home, with a range of community workshops. The free half-day sessions are designed for people who want to learn more about how to reduce their energy costs, and create a healthier home. The programme has also introduced the concept of ‘community energy champions.’
“Community energy champions are locals who have completed energy-use training and mentoring, and are passionate about sharing their learnings with others,” says Gregg. “We’ve already had several keen and enthusiastic locals sign up to take part.”
The community workshops are already underway, with the first held on May 24th in Ōpōtiki. Those interested in attending future workshops can contact 07 544 1882 for more information.
Further updates on the programme will be posted on Trust Horizon’s Facebook page, at facebook.com/TrustHorizon, and on the Sustainability Options pages – facebook.com/bophealthyhomes and facebook.com/sustainabilityoptions.
The pilot programme will initially run until May 2022, with hopes to continue beyond next year. “For close to two decades now, Trust Horizon has been a leading light in the space of improving housing conditions and addressing energy welfare,” says Trust Horizon Trustee Edwina O’Brien. “This project is just the latest iteration of our commitment to improving energy use, wellbeing, and housing conditions in the Eastern Bay community.”