Village Halls and Community Buildings
Focusing on Village Halls and Community Buildings has proven successful for introducing sustainable construction. Reasons for the success include:
- A short 'chain of advice';
- Clients such as Village Hall committees and their advisers (the Community Council) are directly looking for, familiar with and open to receiving advice from key bodies;
- Appropriate officers (e.g. SSDC Community Regeneration) available to provide advice within current work programme;
- Clear and easily communicated benefits of sustainable construction for clients (i.e. 'Running Your Hall for Less' = 50% running cost savings achieved relatively easily through good sustainable design.)
- Examples of several attractive best practise SC community buildings are underway elsewhere in the country.
Four exemplar buildings are secured already, with building / conversion commencing during 2001: Wincanton Healthy Living Centre, Bruton playgroup building, Fivehead Village Hall, Norton-sub-Hamdon Village Hall.
It can be concluded that, overall, focusing of Village Halls and Community Buildings has proven a quick and effective route to securing commitment to exemplar sustainable buildings because:
- The arguments are clear: sustainable construction will mean that your building's running costs will be approximately half what they would be otherwise, and potentially less. It will be an interesting building, that will demonstrate an awareness and concern for its impacts and running costs;
- 'Sustainable construction' can be easily translated into familiar concepts that the target audience already understand i.e. building for lower running costs in energy, water and maintenance;
- The process of commissioning a new Village Hall or community building, or a major extension / refurbishment, always involves a lot of advice from external sources;
- There are a small number of links in the 'chain of advice': a) The Community Council of Somerset, b) SSDC community development / regeneration officers, c) architects, d) the Somerset Trust for Sustainable Development.
- There are already good examples of Village Halls and community buildings elsewhere that demonstrate sustainable construction that illustrate the principles of sustainable construction and prove 'it can be done'.
The concept of the 'chain of advice' that is so clear within this project is valuable in assessing how easily change can be influenced in various other sectors and sub-projects. It is extremely useful in assessing which links in the chain are the most important to target i.e. which link(s) does the client usually contact first, or rely upon most.
The success of this sub-project has led directly to the County Council defining schools and education buildings as a key target for taking action on sustainable construction issues on a countywide basis. The work on sustainable construction for schools is addressed in the section below on Council buildings.
Recommended Targets for 2001:
- Minimum of four Village Halls and community buildings secured as exemplar SC projects during 2001.
- Complete, distribute and promote the Guide to Sustainable Construction for Village Halls (produced by STSD), with a supporting introductory leaflet - and seek wider distribution of the Guide in the South West.
- Council community development / regeneration officers, including area officers, and STSD should meet once the Guide is produced to clarify mutual support and working agreements, and identify any outstanding needs that the project should address.
- Maintain and develop support and training for promoting sustainable construction via key links in the chain of advice by working with STSD i.e. Community Council of Somerset village halls adviser; SSDC community workers; local architects. SSDC and SCC will need to determine how to ensure that all appropriate community workers and other officers are promoting sustainable construction to community groups, and are fully aware of the guide. This could involve a second conference event or seminar late in 2000.
Focus on helping to create a pool of local architects with skills in design of good practise exemplar community buildings and village halls i.e. through STSD providing advice on information sources and other exemplar buildings, and training provided by the Seminar programme run by STSD; as part of a wider objective to raise the sustainable design skills of local architects generally.