Publication - Advice and guidance

Shifting normal - designing projects to tackle climate change: full guide

Published: 15 Jul 2015
Directorate:
Energy and Climate Change Directorate
Part of:
Environment and climate change
ISBN:
9781785445088

This guide is designed to help community groups tackling climate change maximise their success by taking account of how change happens when planning, carrying out and reviewing their activities.

27 page PDF

298.2 kB

27 page PDF

298.2 kB

Contents
Shifting normal - designing projects to tackle climate change: full guide
Part 1: The Four Questions and Four Zones framework

27 page PDF

298.2 kB

Part 1: The Four Questions and Four Zones framework

The Four Questions that determine whether we do something different - or not

To plan and deliver projects that make it easier for people to choose the low carbon option, we need to understand how people decide what to do and how to do it. People ask themselves these questions:

Does it feel right?

Does it make sense?

Can I do it?

Does it fit into my day?

Most of the time people are unaware that they are asking these questions, and even when they are doing it consciously, it's rarely a clear or logical process. But if people are going to do something different from what they normally do, the answer to all four questions must be 'yes'.

Assume your group is trying to make cycling to work easier and more attractive. Here are just some of the things that might flash through Annie's mind as she wonders about whether she'll do it:

"I'd feel good about cycling to work: I'll enjoy the exercise. And it does make sense: it's almost as quick as the car and I don't have to find somewhere to park. I can do it: I've got a bike and I'm fairly confident in traffic. But it won't fit with picking up something for tea on the way home like I usually do."

Despite three 'yeses' out of four, just one 'no' makes it unlikely Annie will cycle to work unless something changes.

Does it feel right?

The way we feel is often an immediate, instinctive reaction and that initial impression can be hard to overcome later. However strong other more logical reasons might be, if something feels wrong or makes us uncomfortable, we will resist doing it.

Does it make sense?

We like to think we are rational beings, but we often use rules of thumb and over - or underestimate costs and benefits, financial and otherwise. We also 'rationalise' decisions we've actually made for other reasons.

Does it fit into my day?

Most of the things we do, we do from habit, often prompted by our household and workplace routines. Changes are easier if they fit into our existing habits and routines. External schedules for transport, work and school can also influence our choices.

Can I do it?

We may want to do it but may be prevented from doing so by our lack of skills and confidence. We may also need particular tools, equipment and infrastructure to do things.

To do or not to do? These are the Four Questions people ask themselves - nearly always unconsciously - as they make choices and decisions. For something to be easy to do, the answer to every question must be 'yes'.

How the Falkland Centre for Stewardship's Community Woodfuel Project answers the Four Questions

The centre is based on the Falkland Estate in Fife where many trees were blown down in the storms of 2011/12. While the estate could have sold the timber commercially, it saw the opportunity to benefit the local community and the environment by providing logs to local people in return for their help in processing the timber. The project helps people learn how they can use wood as fuel efficiently and encourages people to replace open fires with stoves, reducing fuel use and carbon emissions.

Does it feel right?

People enjoy being involved in the project: fresh air, physical exercise and socialising as they work together. A real sense of community has developed among the participants: people bring and share food, swap recipes and tools - and keep coming back even if they don't need wood.

Does it make sense?

Participants receive a sack of good quality wood fuel worth £65 for a day of their time. For participants benefits exceed the costs - especially when they get so much more from working on the project. Using logs instead of coal in open fires reduces costs and saves carbon, while replacing open fires with woodstoves makes using wood more efficient and reduces the need for oil-fired central heating, again reducing cost and saving carbon.

Can I do it?

Training in the safe use of tools means people can take part with confidence, and all the tools and equipment required are provided. Training in using wood fuel ensures people can heat their homes efficiently and minimise carbon emissions. The project's woodland worker provided informal advice on the size and type of stove needed in people's houses, making choosing the right solution easier.

Does it fit into my day?

The working parties are held during the week and at the weekend on a different day each month so everyone can participate. Using wood fuel in stoves, instead of open fires, makes existing routines easier as less fuel is needed, the stove needs less tending, fewer loads of fuel need to be carried in, and there are fewer loads of ash to carry out. Training on how to build a log store means people can stock up with timber and be sure it's thoroughly dry and ready to use before winter.

How the Coll Recycling Group answers the Four Questions

The Coll Recycling Group (RecyColl) operates two cardboard shredders to turn waste packaging into materials useful locally: agricultural and domestic compost and bedding for cattle and pets; and a glass imploder which turns bottles and jars into an aggregate that can be used instead of gravel in a concrete mix, and in polytunnels to store heat. They have turned the old village hall into a hub for re-use, recycling, and energy advice, including a second hand shop and displays of low energy lighting. They run draught-proofing workshops in people's houses where people learn practical skills while the host's house is draught-proofed.

Does it feel right?

People feel it's important to keep the island beautiful and, with shops at least a day away by boat, there's a real tradition of making the most of what you have already. It seems only natural to take care of the island by avoiding litter and rubbish, and to reuse and recycle materials that would otherwise be wasted. The draught-proofing workshops are enjoyable social events with coffee, cakes and wine with friends and neighbours.

Does it make sense?

The distance and costs involved means the local authority can only provide limited recycling services. People believe it makes sense to recycle waste locally as it reduces the costs for the local authority and provides products that would otherwise have to be imported, saving on freight charges and reducing carbon emissions. At the draught-proofing parties people can experience the benefits and see how easy it is to make improvements at little cost. They can also try out LED lighting and see for themselves how bright the new energy saving bulbs are in a normal house.

Can I do it?

Equipment such as cardboard shredders and glass imploders has, with attention to health and safety regulations, made local recycling possible. People wanted to take part in the various government initiatives such as the Green Deal but grant-aided schemes require registered installers to be used. The cost of bringing installers to the island made this difficult. Instead, the group has focused on actions that make use of local skills: promoting and installing LEDs, insulation and draught proofing. At the draught-proofing parties people learn practical skills and gain confidence to tackle their own houses.

Does it fit into my day?

The group has turned the old village hall into a hub for re-use and energy advice, including a second hand shop and displays of low energy lighting. Located near the village and across the road from the medical practice, this makes dropping off materials for re-use, visiting the shop etc easy for people to fit into their routines. The draught-proofing parties are organised at times to suit the participants.

The Four Zones that influence our decisions: I, We, They and It

As we ask ourselves these four questions we are influenced by a wide range of different factors. Some are personal to each of us; others are to do with the people around us. We are also influenced by what's happening in wider society and by physical equipment and infrastructure. To help make sense of all these factors this framework groups them into four zones: I, We, They and It.

The "I" Zone

When Annie was considering cycling to work she thought:

"I'd feel good about cycling to work: I'll enjoy the exercise. And it does make sense: it's almost as quick as the car and I don't have to find somewhere to park. I can do it: I've got a bike and I'm fairly confident in traffic. But it won't fit with picking up something for tea on the way home like I usually do."

All of the factors that are influencing Annie here are personal to her, they are in the "I" zone.

The "We" Zone

Now consider Brian thinking about cycling to work: "It would feel weird cycling to work; hardly anyone else does, people might think I was odd!" Brian is being influenced by his colleagues. As cycling is not normal among in this social group it doesn't feel right to Brian.

The "They" Zone

Caitlin thinks: "The cars go too fast along that road. They'll need to reduce the speed limit before I'll cycle to work." She thinks "they" should change the speed limit. In this framework "they" refers to factors that are generally beyond the direct influence of the individual and her social group, like laws, regulations and the economy.

The "It" Zone

David thinks: "There is secure bike parking at the station now. It makes leaving my bike at the station feel less risky." "It" refers to physical infrastructure, in this case bike parking.

All four zones influence whether something feels right, makes sense, is possible to do and fits into our day. Successful projects make sure something in each of the zones is helping - or at least, not hindering - people make greener, healthier choices.

The 'I' Zone

Factors that are personal and internal to each individual.

These include an individual's values, attitudes and skills, and their assessment of the costs and benefits of any decision.

The 'We' Zone

Factors related to the social groups that we are part of, such as our family, friends, colleagues, and neighbours.

These include the different roles we have in particular circumstances, what's considered normal in our group, and who we know and trust.

The 'They' Zone

Factors related to wider society, beyond our immediate social group.

You might think "they should change the law about...".

These include rules, regulations, policies and procedures, and the economy.

The 'IT' Zone

Physical factors that we use directly or are part of the world around us.

These include tools, equipment, technology, and infrastucture.

The world influences us

The decisions and choices we make are influenced and not just by our individual attitudes, skills etc, but also by the social groups we are part of; by the wider society; and by physical factors.

How Transition Linlithgow's solar energy project covered all Four Zones

Members of Transition Linlithgow wanted to generate renewable energy locally. Building on their experience of working with Energy Saving Trust and Changeworks to promote insulation, they researched the benefits and disadvantages of different technologies. They ran two solar energy projects, first with household solar thermal (generating hot water) and the second with household photovoltaic (generating electricity). Transition Linlithgow chose an industry expert to work with them on the project, to help them make sense of the variety of different technologies and schemes.

Over 400 systems were installed in total. Linlithgow is now sometimes called the "solar panel town", especially because so many can be seen from the train, spreading the message that solar energy is normal across Scotland.

The 'I' Zone

Members of the group and many other local people were enthusiastic about generating renewable energy locally. Transition Linlithgow staff visited interested residents to audit their homes, check they were suitable and provide realistic advice. For those who wanted to proceed, Transition Linlithgow's expert industry partner gave one-to-one advice and a quote for a system suitable for their particular situation. This allowed each householder to fully weigh up the costs and benefits.

The 'We' Zone

Transition Linlithgow is known and trusted locally, so people were confident about the scheme. Residents could use any installer, but all chose Transition Linlithgow's expert industry partner as the company was endorsed by someone they trusted. While each system was installed, a signboard outside the house promoted Transition Linlithgow, the installer and the equipment supplier. Once the installation was complete the solar panels remained visible, showing how they were becoming increasingly normal locally. Because they saw neighbours doing it, people felt comfortable about installing solar panels on their homes: people knocked on neighbours' doors to find out more and this led to further installations.

The 'They' Zone

Installation of solar panels can be affected by planning guidelines, while the government's Feed In Tariff scheme supports domestic solar generation. Transition Linlithgow's industry partner was able to advise these issues and on forthcoming changes to the Feed In Tariff.

The 'It' Zone

Transition Linlithgow held a showcase event at the start of the project where people could see a range of renewable energy products and learn about their use. The economics of solar panels is influenced by schemes such as the Feed In Tariff, by the relative costs of oil, gas and electricity, and comparison with the financial returns available from investing the cost of installation in the stock market or other financial products.

Putting the Four Questions and the Four Zones together

This framework of Four Questions and Four Zones is designed to help community groups plan and deliver projects that are more likely to succeed in bringing about the changes their community wants. Whether you are planning a major project or a one-off event or activity the framework helps ensure important issues aren't overlooked and that everything you are doing is moving in the same direction.

At its simplest, the framework can be used as a mental checklist: just running through the four questions might identify that something important has been overlooked. Likewise, asking yourself if all the zones have been covered can be useful.

For a more structured and powerful approach, the detailed questions overleaf may stimulate new ideas and insights to help you identify what helps and hinders people in all four zones.

Use these detailed questions to understand how the Four Questions and the Four Zones relate to your project.

 

The Four Zones

'I'

'We'

'They'

'It'

The Four Questions

Does it feel right?

Emotion

How pleasant or unpleasant will this be?

How does this help or support people and places that are important to me?

What are my feelings about this activity?

Might this seem strange to colleagues, friends, neighbours and others in my social groups? How comfortable might I feel doing this?

Is this more or less relevant to me in my different roles eg. mother, manager, sports player?

What do people I admire in society say and do about this?

What festivals, celebrations or events may influence whether I do this?

What traditional, cultural or religious norms, expectations or rules help or hinder me to do this?

How do the equipment, infrastructure and technologies around me influence how I feel doing this?

How might using the tools and technologies I would need to do this make me feel?

Does it make sense?

Rational

How do the benefits compare with the effort, costs and time involved?

How does this fit with how I think the world works (or should work)?

How much are others in my social group doing this? Does it make sense for me to do it too?

What do people I respect in my social group say and do about this?

What laws and regulations are relevant to my decision about this?

What is happening in the economy that might be relevant to my decision?

What future changes in policies and regulations might make it sensible to do this now or later?

How does the equipment I've already got, and spent money on, influence what makes sense to me?

Is it do-able?

Ability

What knowledge and practical skills are needed to do this? Do I have these?

Even if I have the knowledge and skills, do I have the confidence to do this?

Who do I know and trust who could help me do this?

What local groups and organisations that I trust could help me do this?

What national/regional organisations that I trust could help me do this?

What government, local authority and other schemes and initiatives could help me do this?

How accessible are tools, equipment or resources needed to do this?

How easily available or usable are the services, infrastructure and technologies needed to do this?

Does it fit into my day?

Time AND schedules

How might my existing habits make doing this difficult or easy?

How might this fit in with my routines with family, friends and colleagues?

How might the timetables for work, school, shopping, travel etc. help or hinder me doing this?

How might tools, equipment and technologies related to this influence my routines and how I spend my time?

How Transition Linlithgow's solar energy project put it all together

We've already seen how Transition Linlithgow's solar energy project covered all four zones. The table overleaf shows how factors in each of the zones may affect people's decisions about installing solar: does it feel right? does it make sense? is it do-able? and how might it fit into their day?

How the Four Zones influenced the Four Questions in Transition Linlithgow's solar power project

The Four Zones

'I'

'We'

'They'

'It'

The Four Questions

Does it feel right?

Emotion

Generating clean energy locally feels good.

As more panels are installed they become part of the norm in the town, people feel more comfortable with the idea of installing their own.

Reducing carbon emissions also feels more normal.

People may be reluctant to install solar if they have recently upgraded their boiler etc.

Does it make sense?

Rational

Project explains the costs, benefits, and carbon savings for each particular household.

For people without savings, does it make sense to borrow to install solar?

People see others installing solar and reducing emissions: this gives them confidence that it will make sense for them too.

Government's Feed In Tariff makes installation more financially attractive. Imminent changes to the scheme provided an incentive to install before the deadline.

Financial returns from investing the cost of installation in financial products may influence decisions.

Using solar PV while connected to the grid means excess power can be sold and you still have electricity when the panels aren't generating.

Is it do-able?

Ability

No skills or knowledge required for installation.

Supplier explains how to use equipment after installation.

Transition Linlithgow is trusted locally: they and their expert can help residents with the decision and carry out the installation.

Planning regulations may be an issue, especially in conservation areas.

The solar market is crowded and complex. The project made it easier for people to make the decision to go ahead.

Showcase event helps people understand the equipment available.

Supplier advises whether each property is suitable for particular equipment.

Does it fit into my day?

Time AND schedules

Some disruption during installation.

Perhaps showering in the evening, using timers on washing machine etc.

Some disruption during installation.

Whole family may need to change routines to make the most of the system.

Solar thermal provides more hot water later in the day which may affect routines. Making the most of solar PV means using energy when the sun is shining. Project explains how to make best use of system.


Contact