Limerick City and County Council in collaboration with +CityxChange partners hosted a full engagement week of nine online webinars and workshops from the 14 to the 19 September on the theme of renewable energy. The target for this engagement week was owners and occupiers of buildings in the Georgian neighbourhood of Limerick but also professionals and those with an interest in sustainable development. One hundred and ninety-five citizens attended and participated in events throughout the week, taking the opportunity to learn about the +CityxChange project and share their vision for a low carbon future for Limerick. Attendees got the opportunity to explore the potential and the challenges of installing renewables and creating positive energy districts in Limerick’s Georgian Quarter.
Feedback from the project partners and attendees overall was very positive. The week raised awareness of the project and generated much interest on social media. Particular highlights included mapping and auditing events that demonstrated the IES digital model of buildings in Limerick’s Georgian District. Property owners and occupiers in the demonstration area were able to interact with the digital visualisation of the district and model their own energy usage as well as the potential to install solar renewables on their properties.
An event, hosted by Gkinetic and the ESB on the proposed tidal river turbine for the river Shannon, generated huge interest. This event has already led to further engagement at the proposed turbine location with local representatives.
Colaborativa hosted a ‘Do it together’ workshop in which attendees got the opportunity to build their own home energy monitor. Much credit goes to the host here for guiding people through a DIT project in a completely online forum. Planning for a follow-up event to track the progress of participants with the energy monitors is underway and will form part of the Energy Champions campaign. Limerick City and County Council hosted an event on creating a Bold City Vision for Limerick. The session introduced the UN Sustainable Development goals to participants and challenged them to use the SDGs as a framework for their vision of a sustainable Limerick.
Considering the COVID situation in Ireland and all over Europe, it is probable that engagement activities will remain online for the foreseeable future. Given this reality there were some valuable lessons to be learned from the week for hosts and organiser alike. The online nature City Engage week led to the generation of some valuable video content that was shared on social media and can now be used as part of ongoing engagement processes, located in the Citizen’s Observatory Virtual Platform.
Key outcomes of the week included,
- Building on the success of previous engage weeks and expanding not just the reach of the project but also the development of an energy community that will drive the project’s implementation.
- A group of citizens was identified who are very interested in the project and have the potential to become Energy Champions in Limerick.
- The contributions of participants during the week signposted possible themes for future engagement, highlighting basic project concepts where further engagement is required for example around energy communities and prosumers.
- The week emphasised the need for a simple and understandable roadmap for property owners as to how they can engage with the project and navigate the financial, regulatory challenges and behavioural change involved.
All in all City Engage week 2 has added to LCCC’s and partners understanding of the requirements of the implementation phase of the project. It boosted awareness, participation and relationships with key communities of interest and enhanced the skills of partners in terms of planning meaningful and interesting online content for project stakeholders.