Review of the Climate Challenge Fund - Appendix C: Case Studies Report

This report reviews the Climate Challenge Fund (CCF), a Scottish Government scheme that supports communities to take action to address climate change.

Leith Community Climate Change Project - Himalayan Centre

Project value High (£130,295 - £450,000)
Duration Two years
Refresh Elements Broaden
Topic(s) Energy Efficiency, Community Building Refurbishment

Project Details

Background to group

Established in 2012, the Himalayan Centre Ltd is a social enterprise and registered charity. The organisation formed out of an idea from the Nepalese community and Nepal Scotland Association to develop a sustainable building for the Leith community. The organisation currently consists of a board, a General Manager and a full-time Project Co-ordinator and 13 volunteers.

Reasons for project and inspiration

The Nepal Scotland Association had previously delivered two CCF-funded projects. The group wanted to continue their work within the community and decided to develop a sustainable building, the Himalayan Centre, as a base to run arts, cultural and environmental projects. The new project, which combined building energy efficiency with behaviour change interventions, appealed to the broaden refresh theme, diversifying the recipient base and target audience that was being supported through CCF.

Aims and approach

The project aims were to establish a low carbon, sustainable centre for arts and culture and reduce the carbon footprint of local people in their daily lives.

The Himalayan Centre is being converted from an old, local authority owned, grade B-listed swimming pool. The CCF award for the building complemented funding from a range of other organisations that focused on different aspects of the refurbishment. The CCF funding was used to install measures to improve the energy efficiency of the building fabric and provide training to encourage the sustainable use of the building by staff and users.

The behaviour change project, exclusively funded by CCF, had three main approaches; household advice visits (target: 120), monthly creative workshops (with a carbon emissions reduction / climate change focus) and Carbon Conversations (six sessions run as a drop-in which included site visits).

Achieving Behaviour Change

In the second year a Community Engagement Officer focused on a community climate initiative to reduce the carbon footprint of local people in their daily lives. The target audience was householders within the EH6 postcode area with a number of activities adopted to encourage them to reduce their carbon footprint.

A summary of the project activities, measures and behaviour change findings arranged in terms of ISM contexts is as follows.


  • Energy efficiency and food waste advice during home visits from Community Champions.
  • Creative workshops to raise awareness of the impacts of climate change and provide methods for individuals to reduce their carbon footprint.
  • Adoption of a values-based approach to help community members understand what the group wanted to achieve while establishing trusted relationships. The group hoped that encouraging others to foster these values would provide a pathway to behaviour change.
  • Encouraged participants to establish a five year plan and pledge to changes they wanted to make.
  • Trained and coordinated a team of Community Champions to help deliver the activities.


  • Climate change films were screened in bars across the Leith area to raise awareness and prompt discussion.
  • Several Carbon Conversation sessions held where groups met to discuss climate change related issues and learnt how to reduce their carbon footprint.


  • Connections with another community group 'Leith Community Crops and Pots' allowed the Himalayan Centre to start a small food growing project which they now attend each week. This gives a visible and consistent space for community members to visit the group. The relationship strengthened the case for tackling climate change in Leith and resulted in shared events.
  • Creative workshops to make draught excluders and screen printing to create exciting reusable bags.

Successes and Benefits

Project development and delivery

The group initially used their CCF outcomes as the main message behind the project but later realised that this was difficult to communicate to volunteers and subsequently the participants. To make communication easier and to give the group stronger direction they established a values-based approach which the group felt was an innovative and effective aspect of the project.

Originally volunteers used a home visit assessment process borrowed from another organisation to conduct the home visits. The form used was very long and didn't reflect the group's values. The group redesigned this to shorten the time taken to perform visits, make it easier for volunteers to understand and communicate what the project was trying to achieve, and deliver a high standard of energy efficiency advice.


Investing in the volunteers meant that they were more passionate and enthusiastic about the project. Volunteers received training on a range of topics and went on site visits which increased their skills and knowledge and also established stronger working relationships.

"The training was brilliant; it encouraged me to stay on as a volunteer."

Project participants were prompted to attend the Carbon Conversation sessions out of interest in the range of topics covered and to give the opportunity to share experiences with new people. Attending the sessions encouraged them to start recycling, walk more, grow their own food or buy locally grown food. It also prompted them to inspire others to attend future sessions and change their behaviours at home. One beneficiary went on to receive further advice through the project in the form of waste reduction and energy efficiency home visits.

Workshops and recommendations through word of mouth proved the most effective methods of gaining referrals for home visits.

Wider Benefits

Beneficiaries of this project felt encouraged to volunteer for other environmental related projects within the area.

The project prompted the volunteers to explore other voluntary opportunities and encourage others to take part in reducing carbon emissions and improving the local environment. They set up Edinburgh Carbon Ninjas, an online community who perform tasks such as community gardening and signposting of members to other environment related events.

Carbon Calculations

Carbon savings were collected by asking participants to weigh food waste and provide meter readings. Householders were also surveyed on 20 habits to establish whether any changes had been made since their involvement in the project. Some of the householders saw this as a test whereas others were happy to learn more from the measurement process "It [weighing food waste] was something that was easy and I was interested in". From this data the lifetime carbon emission savings achieved by the project were calculated to be 62.07 tonnes. The carbon calculations were completed by an external consultant. A project worker expressed that they were interested to learn more about the carbon emission savings attributed to each of the behaviours as a result of this process.

Challenges and Lessons Learned

Project development

The group found that it was difficult for volunteers to conduct home visits as they were required to collect a lot of feedback and data for monitoring and evaluation. Towards the end of the project some flexibility with the budget enabled the group to employ an energy auditor. Having someone focused solely on the delivery of home visits led to an increase in referrals and resulted in more consistent reporting.


The building is yet to be completed due to delays in the building process. This had a knock on effect with the behaviour change project as it was challenging to encourage people to engage with a new organisation without an identifiable base. This also meant that the group didn't have their own space to run the workshops and Carbon Conversations. The group worked to overcome this by using their growing space regularly as a base for the community to visit them, run workshops at community group facilities and use a temporary office space to host Carbon Conversations.

Establishing relationships with minority groups and building a level of trust with them was a challenge; as a result many were not interested in receiving a home visit. However it was later discovered that running workshops and using this as an opportunity to give more detailed explanations about the visits led to an increase in interest and referrals.

Legacy / Looking Forward

The Himalayan Centre is now an established group within the community and relationships built with other community groups ensures a strong base for future projects. Once completed, the centre will provide a hub for the community of Leith and a space for a range of activities.

Volunteers have learnt new skills and are passionate about the Himalayan Centre and the work that they did through the last project, to the extent that they want to continue to work with them and support the community.



Email: Debbie Sagar

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