Cumbria Action for Sustainability

Yet again, we've loads to tell you about... our refreshed support for communities keen to generate their own energy; training and events for you to take advantage of; gardeners digging into expert advice; and the launch of our annual report, looking back on yet another bumper year for CAfS. Jaki
Thinking about a community energy scheme?
We're celebrating Community Energy Fortnight with the launch of a new phase of support for communities in South Lakeland. 

Dr Rhona Pringle has just joined the CAfS team as our new l ow-carbon communities project manager, to lead our community energy advice service in its third year. 

Thanks to ongoing support from South Lakeland District Council, we're able to continue helping residents to make their village halls and other community venues more energy efficient or set up their own renewable energy schemes.

CAfS has already supported 19 community energy projects, including the successful Killington Reservoir hydro scheme, launched in January, and the installation of a solar photovoltaic array on the headquarters of the Lake District National Park Authority in Kendal.

There has been a huge growth in the number of community energy schemes in the UK in recent years, with 222 community energy groups and 30,000 members active in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In the past 20 years, they've generated enough electricity to power 85,000 homes.

If you're part of a not-for-profit organisation anywhere in South Lakeland, and have an idea to improve energy efficiency in a community building or develop renewable energy projects, please get in touch with Rhona to tap into advice:

Rhona will also be working with us on our wider projects around the county, and we welcome her to the team!
Fully-funded training for housing professionals
If you work in housing or construction, you could benefit from our fully-funded course on improving older buildings  for energy efficiency and resilience to weather and flooding.

We've teamed up with CLASP to run this half-day training for social housing professionals, those working in planning and building control, surveyors, asset managers and construction professionals.  The training is funded by the Big Lottery Fund. 

The course should  help you to determine the best approach for older buildings, taking into account the nature of their construction - from the best choice of materials, to how water from flooding and rainfall affects buildings.

There's a choice of two dates and locations: 

If you know anyone who might be interested, please forward this on to them!
A Plastic Ocean special screening & discussion time
Join us on Monday evening for a special screening of the film A Plastic Ocean, at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal.

There's a discussion session afterwards featuring one of the film's producers, Jo Ruxton, along with South Lakes Action on Climate Change, CAfS, the Liberal Democrats, the Labour Party and the Green Party.

The film, released last year, was shot on more than 20 locations over 4 years, exploring the causes and consequences of plastic pollution, and also sharing solutions. 

Jo Ruxton formerly worked for the World Wildlife Fund before joining the BBC Natural History Unit. She was part of the team behind the celebrated 'The Blue Planet' series. 

It promises to be an insight into a massive problem with devastating impacts on our oceans, wildlife, and ultimately our own food chain, along with the wider issues around our use of plastic. 
Gardeners turn out in force for CAfS guest lecture
More than one hundred people packed into our AGM guest lecture on Monday to hear national and regional experts speak on the effect of climate change on gardening and food growing.

Dr Ross Cameron from the University of Sheffield and Chris Braithwaite from the National Trust, gave a detailed insight into the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for gardeners.

Ross also spoke about his research into using plants and trees to improve the energy efficiency of homes and buildings.

We filmed the talks and discussion session and will share the videos shortly. Keep an eye on our social media channels, and we'll also include the link in the next newsletter.

New trustee welcomed on board
Our formal AGM meeting took place just before the talks, and we're delighted to announce that Adrian Banford has joined CAfS as a trustee. We're very much looking forward to benefiting from Adrian's wide-ranging experience, and we'll introduce him more fully next time.

We've also had a change in the CAfS employee team. Our chief executive, Hazel Graham, is now on maternity leave and Phil Davies will be acting chief executive for the next year. Working alongside Phil to lead some specific aspects of Hazel's role will be Caroline Turner, whom many of you will remember as our Sustain Eden manager. 
Our year, by CAfS (aged 19)
We also launched our 2016-17 annual report at our AGM event, looking back over a bumper year of projects - all driving towards our goal of a Zero Carbon Cumbria, a county with no carbon footprint. 

The main thrust of our work has been helping people use less energy in their homes, and supporting communities wanting to set up their own energy schemes or reduce their energy use. But we’ve also been a force for change in lots of other ways throughout the year, taking up opportunities to influence the sustainability and climate change agendas at a regional and national level.

We’ve managed to do it all at a time when budgets are squeezed ever more tightly. We’re funded almost entirely by grants and contracts to deliver specific projects - and grants for climate change projects are increasingly rare. Thanks to our long-standing reputation as an organisation that can successfully deliver a wide range of projects, however, we’re still here and going stronger than ever.

Have a browse through our annual report for a whirlwind tour of our year! If you'd like a printed copy, please email

In brief...
Report assesses sustainability in social housing 
A new report on social housing has found that t he energy efficiency of homes is at 78% of what is needed to ensure carbon emissions are in line with UK climate change targets.

The report, 'Safe as Houses: Sustainability of the Social Housing Sector', concluded that the sector is 49% sustainable in terms of meeting science-based sustainability targets.

Published within the past fortnight by the housing research body Sustainable Homes, the report is available online.
Could you be a master composter? 
Would you like to find out more about composting and help pass on the message to others? Volunteers are being recruited from Allerdale, Copeland, Eden and South Lakeland to become master composters.

You'll receive free training and ongoing support to spread know-how about composting in your local community and encourage more people to compost at home. Master composters generally volunteer for around 30 hours each year.
The next training is on 22 July. To apply, contact David Garrett at Garden Organic, who is running the scheme in partnership with Cumbria County Council: or 024 7621 7742.
How Low Can You Go?
Processing water for use in our homes is one of the indirect causes of household carbon emissions. Reducing your water usage is valuale on lots of fronts and there are some handy gadgets that might help you.

The water savings calculator on the Save Water Save Money website does a quick assessment of your water use for personalised tips and a list of freebies that may be available to you. 
Repair Cafe | Old Fire Station, Penrith  Sat 26 August, 10am to 1pm
Bring along anything that needs fixing, and volunteers will try to help.
Penrith on a Plate  | Penrith town centre  Sat 15 July, 10am to 5pm
Get ideas to reduce food waste with cookery demos on using up leftovers by chef John Crouch & stall by Penrith Action for Community Transition.
Fruits, Glorious Fruits - An Evening with Bob Flowerdew  Tue 15 Aug, 8pm Melmerby Village Hall  | Hosted by Melmerby & District Gardening Club
Meet the organic gardener and grower “extraordinaire”, author and Gardeners' Question Time panel member. 01768 881348;
Know of a sustainability event? Tell us & we'll include it next time.
Cumbria Action for Sustainability
01768 210276 | |
Company Number: 6492907 Registered Charity Number: 1123155