Whitley Bay Big Local is a community-led charity which aims to make Whitley Bay an even better place to live, work and visit. The team is currently converting a former job centre building into a new community eco-hub and CEO, David Carnaffan, took part in NBSL’s ToNetZero programme to learn more about measuring the building’s energy efficiency.
Tell us about the new Whitley Bay Local eco-hub
We bought the former job centre building, which is in the centre of Whitley Bay, a year ago and we’re converting it into a sustainable base for all sorts of community activities, from after-school drop-ins to Deaf meet-ups and arts groups.
We know the environment and sustainability are really important to people in Whitley Bay so we wanted to make sure that the new hub we’re creating is environmentally sustainable – and therefore financially sustainable as well.
By using renewable energy like solar panels and heat pumps, we are creating a space that is cheaper to run and keep warm and which we hope will help to inspire everyone who uses it to be more environmentally conscious.
What did you hope your charity would gain from taking part in the ToNetZero programme?
I hoped we’d get a better awareness of what we can do as a charity to become more sustainable and I also wanted to come up with a way to track our progress and demonstrate our impact to funders.
What are the most useful things you learnt from the programme?
For me, the most important outcome was that we now have a way of measuring our carbon reduction. This was something I worked on in our one-to-one sessions and it’s what we’re using to establish our 2022 baseline of carbon emissions. This means we can now track our progress over the coming years.
The session on marketing and how we can talk about what we’re doing was also especially good. We now talk very differently about our ambitions and it’s helped us to shape how we inform and inspire people.
Overall, I’d say I learnt something new every single week.
If you’re involved with a charity that wants to take steps towards carbon reduction, the ToNetZero programme could support you. Find out more and register here.