Village Halls Week 2024 is set to go green!


Author: Phillip Vincent, public affairs and communications manager at ACRE

With scientific warnings of the climate crisis mounting and governments and international institutions scrabbling in search of grand solutions, it’s easy to feel powerless to act in the face of great threats to our way of life and that of future generations.

However, as much as bold decisions are needed regarding the global management of the earth’s resources and the carbon emitted into the atmosphere, little will happen unless there is action on the ground.

Rural communities have great potential to be pioneers in the local battle for net zero. This is likely to include adopting more sustainable agricultural practices, welcoming renewable energy generation, improving the energy efficiency of older buildings and reducing the need for people to travel by utilising digital technology. Mitigation, too, is needed to blunt the consequences of climate change, such as flooding and wildfires.

Village halls, like parish councils, are one of the very few institutions embedded in nearly every corner of rural England. Hosting a wide range of activities, events, groups, and services, they have great reach into communities. Many have been used as a place of refuge during extreme weather events. And as the post office horizon scandal has recently brought to light, they are sometimes venues where radical community activism begins!

The humble village hall is, therefore, surprisingly well-placed to be a catalyst for environmental action. Village Halls Week 2024 will consider how this can happen. It will look at what some halls are already doing to serve as inspiration, and it will provide an opportunity for others to hold events and reach out to residents to see what might work locally for them.

A highlight of this year’s campaign will be the publication of energy efficiency design guidance produced by Stagg Architects on behalf of ACRE. 

Typically, village halls are older buildings which can be off the gas grid. Some date back over 100 years. Many have been vulnerable to energy price shocks over the past couple of years, with some groups spending over half of their income to keep the building warm at the peak of the crisis. 

On this basis, a logical and much-needed starting point for village hall groups interested in ‘going green’ is making improvements to their building to reduce the amount of energy they consume as well as their bills. 

The guidance set to be launched via a live stream features several halls in Cumbria, Lancashire, Buckinghamshire, Dorset and Somerset, which have done just that. Work undertaken by these halls includes improving insulation, upgrading heating systems, and even generating their own energy. They demonstrate that whilst there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, there are many take-home lessons from their experiences with regard to project planning, involving the wider community, fundraising, and working with technical experts and contractors. 

Of course, making improvements to buildings isn’t the only way to ‘go green’. As such, Village Halls Week will also be about supporting behaviour change so people are encouraged to reduce, reuse and recycle more. It will look at halls that are providing space or working with other green groups in the community. It will also consider how village halls lucky enough to have responsibility for outdoor space can make use of this to support food growing, wildlife and biodiversity.

Village halls are being encouraged to get involved with the campaign by holding open days and events and sharing their stories on social media. Interested groups have been sent a campaign pack, which includes posters, badge bunting, and other resources.

For more information about Village Halls Week, visit the ACRE website

The following blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered professional or legal advice. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Association of Local Councils. Any links to external sources included in this blog post are provided for convenience and do not constitute endorsement or approval of those websites' content, products, services, or policies. Therefore, readers should use discretion and judgment when applying the information to their circumstances. Finally, this blog post may be updated or revised without notice.

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