Building a new world order

28 April 2020 - Published by Deirdre Buist 2
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, media focus was on climate change, the impacts of our modern lifestyle on the planet and an urgent need to change - by 2040, or so. As a result of the current global restrictions, nature is literally catching its breath as CO2 emissions decrease. Now governments are also looking at how to restart the economy in the post Corona period, and rebalance the environment-economy scales. We need to build a new world order.

On 28th April, Stronghouse partners held an online brainstorm session to discuss ideas on how energy renovations can contribute, enable and empower communities in the post Corona period. Which investment programmes, tools and capacity building projects can be implemented when greening and kickstarting the economy? How can we utilize any stimulus that may be developed to enhance the project and our goal?

Momentum for change

As each partner region gave a quick overview of their lockdown situation, the position of the economy and speculations on the ‘new normal’, a variety of thoughts and ideas emerged. There are regional differences in the approach to the crisis and this will also reflect in future responses to the challenges we all face. Yet, it is also clear that there has been widespread reflection, resulting in a momentum for change and the realization that more can be achieved by working together – on all levels.

From isolation to innovation & insulation

In times of crisis spending is stagnant. As society slowly re-awakens, consumers will need more encouragement and support to invest in the energy renovation of their homes. There must also be political support. Huge amounts have been invested by national governments in rescue funds, in an attempt to support the economy, but much depends on how long this imposed social isolation continues and how priorities shift as a result. Agility and innovative thinking have never been more relevant in enabling energy renovation.

Investing in a green infrastructure now can also provide a major boost for the economy.

Some ideas that came to the table:

  • Focus less on sustainability, more on joint responsibility

  • Use local craftsmen/tradesmen, retrain those who have lost jobs

  • Develop skills, capacity building, new jobs, cooperatives

  • Combine climate strategy with Corona exit strategy

  • Create an economy that is resilient and climate neutral

  • Use the ‘ Trios Energetica’ model; energy reduction, renewable sources, efficient use of fossil fuels.

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Investing in the new normal

If working from home becomes the new normal for many, it should be integrated in the Stronghouse project. Working from home could result in a significant reduction in pollution (travel/traffic) and energy costs (heating large office buildings). This could also encourage homeowners to invest more in the energy efficiency of their houses. Again, we were in the flow as partners shared their views and ideas for some next-steps:

  • Combine actions – e.g. during renovation also upgrade by adding electrical car charger.

  • Investigate the many initiatives to use power overcapacity.

  • Use employers’ budget for travel allowance to encourage their homeworkers to retrofit their homes.

  • Adapt a local approach, offering a sense of control and resilience to the people.

  • Suggest lower-income alternatives and DIY packages/systems.

  • Promote grants instead of loans where possible – avoiding debt.

  • Provide tax incentives for energy renovation/retrofitting

  • Collect and visualize data of homeworkers’ energy use (e.g. with smart meters or diary).

  • Calculate energy-saving/ mitigating measures.

  • Produce some Stronghouse e-learning tools - energy saving videos.

  • Develop a digital platform, creating a community for energy-saving self-learning adaptors.

Timing & opportunities

At the end of this inspiring brainstorm session, the Stronghouse partners have plans to invite local and regional stakeholders and external experts to a follow-up meeting for some more concrete exchange. We’re not only sharing knowledge and experience in this cooperation, but also the uncertainty about what happens next.

Timing is now crucial. The shift towards a new world order provides many opportunities to really make giant leaps in the energy transition - and climate change mitigation.

Let's  be ready!