by Zoë Carruthers
The current global pandemic has made working from home the norm for many people. This includes staff members at the Energy Saving Trust. It is during this time, that I have realised just how valuable it was to be able to travel to Washington and meet our colleagues face to face. While modern technology enables us to communicate in ways we could never do before, it still doesn’t beat a good old chit-chat in person.
Most of the work we plan and organise takes place over emails, weekly video chat meetings and the odd instant message. However, there is significant value in being able to plan future campaigns and communication opportunities in person. This is something we can all relate to right now. Due to lockdown, many of us are contacting our family and friends through text message, phone calls and video chats this month.
I joined the marketing team at Energy Saving Trust in November, and by March, just before the pandemic arrived, I headed over to Washington D.C. Not every new staff member travels across the water. So, why did I go? Because I am part of the team delivering the Efficiency for Access programme.
We deliver Efficiency for Access in collaboration with our partner, CLASP, an international appliance energy efficiency and market development specialist not-for-profit organisation. Working in partnership is crucial to the success of the project. To help strengthen our partnership, I was able to travel with two colleagues to Washington DC to meet our CLASP colleagues. Together, we deliver marketplace education, communications, and coordination of a range of initiatives around the world.
Efficiency for Access aims to accelerate the growth of off-grid appliance markets to boost incomes, reduce carbon emissions, improve quality of life and support sustainable development. Efficiency for Access Coalition members have programmes and initiatives spanning three continents, 44 countries, and 22 technologies.
An example of one of the initiatives is the Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund. Launched in 2018, this fund provides grants to research and development projects to promote innovation in off-grid and weak-grid appliances. So far, the Research and Development Fund has provided grants to 21 organisations. Accelerating the availability, affordability and efficiency of off- and weak-grid appliances, such as fridges, irons and fans, allowing people in rural and poor areas to access technologies to improve their health, education and income.
While we were in Washington D.C., our combined Energy Saving Trust – CLASP team had very productive meetings around branding, partner communications and more. A lot of our work focused on wrapping up ‘Appliances Empower’ campaign, which ran for five months and sought to advance gender equality and inclusion through energy-efficient appliances. As part of this, we co-delivered a Twitter chat, which highlighted how off-grid appliances can help enhance energy access for women, people with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups. We also planned outreach for the Empowering Access pledge in which we invited organisations working in energy access to demonstrate their commitment to advancing gender equality.
Furthermore, our team also started planning our upcoming ‘Climate Resilience’ campaign, which will highlight the role of off-grid appliances in climate mitigation and adaptation.
Since our trip to Washington D.C., I feel like our partnership has developed in a very positive way. For example, by pooling our resources effectively we encouraged 40 organisations to sign the Empowering Access pledge. Our combined efforts organising the #InclusiveAppliancesChat also helped it earn over 1.1 million potential impressions and 1,370 engagements on Twitter from 10 – 26 March.
Partnership is the foundation of Efficiency for Access. I have learnt that creating strong relationships is what makes partnership work and can help us to achieve our goal of enabling clean energy access for all.