Kilanerin, a fairly typical small working village near the south east coast of Ireland, in North Wexford stands out for two good reasons: the palpable sense of community spirit and a focused effort to drive sustainable energy use and take-up forward.
Here, many take an active role in village life, despite a high proportion of folk commuting daily to Dublin. Farming families are also a major element of the community and many families with children who are committed to the area through sport and more.
From the Community Centre to Tidy Towns; from clean-ups to sports – the adage that works best here is – ‘ask a busy person to take on a task, it will get done!’
I have no background in sustainable energy but was inspired following my move to the area in 2018. When I first learned about Sustainable Energy Communities, my initial thought was that Kilanerin might be a good candidate to learn from SEAI about the potential for our community. I believe that increasing levels of awareness in the community is a cornerstone requirement to affecting change.
Kilanerin Ballyfad Community Development Association (KBCDA) joined the SEAI Sustainable Energy Community Network in Sept 2018. After establishing a leadership team, one of the next steps for us was to start raising awareness across the community about being sustainable.
We are in the early days of our sustainable energy journey but the buzz around the village is phenomenal. People are engaged and thinking about what can be done do to save energy and how we can move in sustainable directions most broadly. Our village is keen to engage so we can put energy efficiency projects together and begin to advance savings and improvements across our community. Our recent win at the SEAI Sustainable Energy Awards recognised our community’s dedication to sustainability.
Raising awareness is key to our success to date. In conjunction with Kilanerin Tidy Towns we put on a Sustainability Fair attended by over 500 folks, with close to 30 stand-holders and over 10 seminars. It was an all hands-on deck affair and seemed to meet the learning and interest needs of many. The work required by the community in data collection for our Energy Master Plan will bring great value to the energy savings and shifts to renewables that will happen in the coming years. We put real thought and effort into the data collection by building a broad-based survey and encouraging all the community households to participate. Over 300 households took the time to respond to the survey and we now have a wealth of data to guide our efforts. Alongside these efforts, multigenerational engagement is at our core; with a simple request to all – TAKE ONE STEP, ONE STEP THAT WORKS IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD, ONE STEP THAT YOU SEE AS POSSIBLE, NOW.
KBCDA is one of 200 communities in the Sustainable Energy Community network around Ireland who are interested in developing sustainable energy systems for the benefit of the community. Some communities have been influencing local energy use for years, while others are starting their journey now.
What action can you take?
Every single person can make a change and help address our climate challenges, knowledge is power and so is a voice.
Download and listen to the FINAL episode of SEAI’s #180Degrees podcast where Karen Finigan joins Irish Times journalist Kevin O’Sullivan, climate-activist Aoibheann McCann and SEAI’s Tom Halpin and Gillian Gannon to discuss the important role community plays in tackling climate change.