21st Century Living
Challenging 100 households to live sustainability
Head of Corporate Responsibility
Home Retail Group
Tell us about the 21st Century Living project
The 21st Century Living project was essentially a challenge for 100 homes across the UK to try and live more sustainably for a year. The project was a partnership between Homebase and the Eden Project in Cornwall. We gave the homes £500 to spend on energy-efficient improvements in their home, we gave them advice and guidance online and we did home audits at the beginning and end of the project to see what progress they had made. And the findings from the project were very interesting, what it told us was that helping homes to be more energy efficient is a mass market opportunity now, everybody had an appetite to make improvements in their homes, and perhaps surprisingly it was the lower demographic households that made the most impact telling us that perhaps going green is not the middle class obsession that we thought it was.
We also found out that people wanted very tailored personal advice to help them make their improvements, they wanted to know what the issues were in those homes in their particular home and wanted information and advice on how to tackle those issues.
We also found that money and saving were a big motivator of action so it was around energy that people made the progress because you can see the benefit of what you're doing both in your energy bill as well as knowing that it is good for the environment.
And lastly we found that the £500 that we gave people unlocked further investments from them as individuals so on average the homes spent a further £500 on improvements over and above the £500 that they had given us... so we’re gonna be using the findings of the project to inform our strategy around energy services particularly in Homebase and the way that we talk to customers going forward about the environment and the improvements they can make.
Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing us today and the average temperature of the planet is starting to rise, which is beginning to affect the natural world around us. Seeking ways to reduce climate change and adapt to the changes that are already taking place, Homebase formed a collaboration with the Eden Project in Cornwall, called the 21st Century Living Project.
The project looked at four areas: energy, waste, water and other environmental behaviours like travel. One hundred households, including all demographics, social groups and house types, were challenged to do what they could to reduce their environmental footprint.
Homebase gave each household £500 to spend on a selection of ‘green’ products and equipment and to make their home more energy efficient. A home audit was conducted at the beginning and end of the project and they were supported with a project manager and online advice and information. Sixty one households received a thermal image survey of their property. The initial findings were very interesting:
- 81% of households took at least one energy-saving measure, with an average saving of 10%
- 58% increased their use of low-energy light bulbs
- 23% replaced white goods with more efficient models
- Average recycling rates rose from 58% at the start of the project to 63% by the end
- 14% installed compost bins or wormeries
- 21% installed a water butt
Travel was the area embraced by our participants with least enthusiasm, with the majority of households doing nothing to change their travel arrangements. Interestingly, the most enjoyable activity was ‘Grow Your Own’, which was generally felt to be one of the most fun and satisfying changes by those who made it.
The full report can be viewed online at 21stcenturyliving.edenproject.com/news.htm