In September we heard from inspiring speakers at our kick-off Innovations in Climate Tech event; in October, we took that inspiration and let you run with it when we hosted a series of online conversations.
And now, we’re happy to present the teams who will be taking their ideas a little further with the help of our small grants.
We were looking for projects that could test a proof of concept or start something small but meaningful around climate in a local community. Proposals had to have at least one council on board.
Our successful applicants are all working in very different areas, but all of them have great potential to make a difference, and we’re excited to see what emerges from their work. So, let’s take a look at the grantees:
Lynsted Community Kitchen Garden
This collaborative food growing project in Kent will use tech to showcase sustainable approaches to gardening, with an emphasis on adapting to a changing climate. They’ll be working with Swale Borough Council.
Horticulture may be a new area for mySociety, but Lynsted Community Kitchen Garden made a compelling case for how they would collect data through a digital weather station, and use this information to develop adaptation methods which they could then share with other gardeners.
Data is data and we’re excited about its potential whether it’s around our familiar areas of democracy and transparency, or in this case precipitation, hours of sunshine and temperature! When correlated with plant growth and the amounts of watering required, this project should be providing some really tangibly useful outputs.
“We are hugely excited about using climate tech to improve the resilience of our community veg and fruit growing project to weather stress”, said LCKG. “A massive thank you to mySociety for this opportunity, and to Swale’s Climate and Ecological Emergency Officer for their support.”
Climate charity Possible is behind many innovative initiatives, including the Climate Perks scheme which mySociety subscribes to. For this project Possible will be working with Camden Borough Council to run feasibility studies around installing ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) in more challenging residential areas.
GSHPs have been heralded as a more sustainable option than the gas boilers currently found in most homes. However they are installed outdoors, presenting difficulties for tower block residents, or households with limited space or funds. Air source pumps can be affixed to the exterior of buildings, but this approach can fall foul of planning laws, and they can also be noisy.
Possible will be experimenting in Primrose Hill with a ‘shared loop’ system, in which the collector loops are installed beneath public green space to assess the technical and commercial viability of this approach.
“One fifth of UK households live in flats, while one quarter live in terraced houses, so the untapped potential of this approach is vast”, say Possible.
Sandwell Council will team up with Better Futures to research and scope a new project, Climate Interchange. This online database will showcase work undertaken to adapt to climate change challenges, from councils across the UK.
The project has the kind of user-focused approach that we heartily approve of at mySociety: it will begin with asking officers in councils across the country what they need, before creating a searchable project database of solutions and case studies.
“By opening up data and sharing we want to democratise climate adaptation solutions, putting actionable insights into the hands of those on the front line in communities and local government”, says Better Futures’ Rob Hale.
There are clear parallels here with the Scorecards work our partners at Climate Emergency UK are engaged in, and we hope that the two projects will benefit one another while providing richer resources to councils and the public.
We’ll check in with our grantees to see what they achieve and what they learn along the way, so do watch this space for updates.
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Image: Lynsted Community Kitchen Garden