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University of Worcester students Jack Carver and Rosa Kennard blog about using their skills to improve students' homes and lives'

28 April 2014

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 April 28, 2014
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Jack Carver is currently in his second year of studying Creative Digital Media at the University of Worcester. He is also an energy advocate for Energize Worcester.

I found out about the project when I saw an advert posted on the students’ union’s Facebook page about job openings. I was looking for a job at the time and I thought it’d be a really worthwhile project to be involved in due to the opportunity to develop a variety of skills and experience whilst doing my bit to help the environment. I went for an interview in November and was asked to do a five minute presentation on the importance of energy efficiency in the home. It went pretty well despite being nervous and I was very happy to find out I was successful! Since then I’ve been very busy with this project because it’s led to much more than I was expecting.

First of all we were all trained and required to sit an exam to achieve level 3 City and Guilds certification in Energy Awareness. This gave us all the chance to learn things that will benefit us for the rest of our lives, such as: how various types of heating appliances work, how to read the gas and electric meters and energy bills, how to reduce energy consumption and how to spot damp amongst a great number of other things. This knowledge is something we feel students rarely get the chance to learn so that’s one of the main things we want to change through this project.

Since starting the project in January we have been networking with students at the niversity, providing them with knowledge on what it means to live sustainably, how to live a greener life and be more energy efficient. Overall our main goal is to raise awareness and make students realise how easy it is to not only do your bit for the environment but to save some money while doing so!

We’ve been promoting our bespoke online app at www.energize-worcester.co.uk where students can input their meter readings each month in order to get a visual representation of their energy consumption alongside the national average for their house type. This is really useful to monitor your energy usage to see if you’re using more than you should be.

The response so far has been fairly good but we want to expand the project and get more people involved so we can really make a difference. After all it’s all about everyone doing their bit.

For me one of the things I didn’t expect from this project was the opportunity to work on the video, animation and graphic materials. I was talking to the Project Manager Peng Li about my University work and we discussed the possibility of me creating on something for the project. This has led to me working on a variety of promotional materials for the project which will continue throughout the duration of my course.

The first video we needed was simply to promote and explain the project in a simple way that wasn’t just someone talking into a camera so I made this:

 

Go Green Week was set to be a fun week of events with our stand holding a Limbo competition, promoting the project and giving energy advice amongst other things but flooding in Worcester meant that a large number of students and staff were unable to access the campus. Despite this we still had a decent turn out which can be seen in this coverage video:

Following from this I’ve also held two interviews with students who have signed up to and benefitted from the project:

This has been a great opportunity for me to gain experience as a freelance video maker and animator. These videos have even been noticed by another university and have led to more paid work. The Energize project will also be expanding to Birmingham next year which may present more opportunities for me to work on the graphic materials. I’m looking forward to continuing my involvement in this project and making sure it’s a success.

Rosa Kennard is currently in her second year of studying Psychology at the University of Worcester and a member of the Energize-Worcester team.

Coming from a family keen about sustainability and environmentally friendly behaviour, I was enthralled when drudging through the usual emails to come across a job application regarding Energize-Worcester.  Having gone through the same process as Jack and the other advocates, I too was set through the nail biting process of the interview and recruitment.  Although having experienced job interviews in the past, none was so nerve-wracking as the one for Energize-Worcester, for once I was applying myself to something which I passionately cared about, a project that really could change people’s lives.

I was overjoyed when I received confirmation of the job as energy advocate and once passing the exam was eager to set the ball rolling and get involved with the students. Due to my interest in psychology, an area within the project that really fascinates me is the behaviour aspect of the students. Being a student myself I am empathetic to the reasons as to why many of the students may not be so keen about environmental aspects, yet I am eager to learn more about the “why” and “why not’s”. I hope that with our strong advisory team we will be able to get more people aware of the amazing benefits of our project, while continuing to learn about how to best to apply it in a student-friendly way.

Once our project was a little more established a few of the advocates and I were able to conduct a house visit for a couple of the students that had signed up to our project.  In order to make the most out of our services we provide (for those who want it) a survey of the house in term of sustainability. We’re there to take note of things that affect the house’s efficiency and help address any problems they might be having such as dampness, difficulty reading their energy meters or general questions about improving living conditions.

I must admit it was a little daunting, while waiting on the doorstep of the first house, armed with little more than a survey in one hand, pen in the other but once inside all fears subsided.  The house visit, which is set to be the first of many, was an interesting experience. It was great to apply the knowledge we had learnt through our training and advice given from our boss Peng Li, to fellow students. The survey was rather swift and easy to conduct, it was great to know that information we obtained would be used to help other people and make the most out of their living experience.

So many students are living in conditions that they shouldn’t have to. With a little help from us, they will be able to improve their living environment and have more time and money to enjoy themselves. It also provides them with knowledge that will undoubtedly be useful for when they are searching for a property in the future.  Not only has the project helped me gain a lot of new experiences and knowledge with regards to sustainable living (much to the delight of my not-so-eco-housemates) but I have also met other students who share the same passion.

The future of energize-Worcester looks bright and I’m very proud to be a part of it.

Published on the NUS Student Green Fund blog

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