A bit of history!
The Open Eco-Homes Weekend held September 7th-9th in Totnes and Dartington began in 2008 with a simple walking tour of eco homes and businesses in Dartington. 35 people took part.
By 2009 there were 75 participants and the logistics of that many people visiting a home meant that we had to rethink the event. The answer was the Open Eco-Homes Weekend. In 2010 13 homes took part and an estimated 500 visits were made. This was also the first year that we held an eco-fair which coincided with the launch of the solar PV panels on the Civic Hall, the Transition Streets project and the publication of 'Local Sustainable Homes', the Transition guide to sustainable housing.
By 2011 19 homes were open for a long weekend and over 20 exhibitors had stalls at an extremely successful Eco-Fair in a packed Civic Hall. Around 1000 visits were made to homes and hundreds of people attended the Eco-Fair. Sponsorship and fees from exhibitors raised significants amounts to cover TTT projects.
So that brings us to 2012. Helen Ireland, with support from TTT volunteers, did an excellent job of organising and advertising the events but fewer homes opened their doors to visitors and fewer people came to visit. The Eco-Fair was still very successful but there were noticably fewer visitors. So why the downturn and is it a problem?
The good weather was certainly a factor with many people grabbing a long awaited chance to head for the beach or see the Tour of Britain cyclists racing past. Perhaps there was some fatigue with some householders (and visitors) taking a break after participating in the previous 4 years. Uncertainties around feed-in-tariffs created by ham fisted government changes has certainly dampened the enthusiasm for renewable energy systems. But are there other factors?
Improving the energy performance of existing homes is vital to reducing our carbon footprints and energy expenditures so events like the Open Eco-Homes Weekend and Eco-Fair are an important part of the TTT calendar. Before next years event we will be looking at feedback from participants, households and Eco-Fair exhibitors to see how we can refresh this important event. Perhaps it can be combined with a look at Edible Gardens? Maybe we need to change the time of year? If you have any ideas please let us know.