This year’s Cumbria Green Build and Sustainable Living Festival attracted more attendees than ever before, with a programme of fifty informative and inspiring events right across the county.

Over one thousand people gained the knowledge and skills to cut their carbon footprints, taking advantage of the festival’s open home visits, workshops, talks, conferences and film screenings throughout September.

“Our 14th annual festival was the biggest and most ambitious we’ve ever held, with a step-change increase in attendees from previous years,” said Nigel Jenkins from Cumbria Action for Sustainability (CAfS), who organised the festival, supported by headline sponsor Electricity North West.

“Many of the events directly organised by CAfS were full, as well as some that were run by partners. Perhaps the biggest success for us is that the festival helped people to make real changes. Two-thirds of attendees said they were closer to taking action thanks to their event.”

Attendees praised the usefulness of events and how well they increased their understanding about the topic, met their expectations and gave value for money.

“It was hugely encouraging to see that around half of those who booked were coming to a CAfS event for the first time, so we reached new people who can continue to benefit from our help to make their homes and lifestyles more sustainable,” Nigel said.

As in previous years, open home visits continued to be the heart of the festival, showcasing ways to reduce heating and power bills and the environmental impact of buildings.

Homeowners across Cumbria kindly opened their doors to the public so they could learn about inspiring new builds and improvements to older housing, including a focus on the Passivhaus standard for ultra-low-energy buildings.

“Given that a very high proportion of Cumbria’s housing stock is older buildings, from solid wall stone homes to more modern brick structures, our visits to renovation projects and skills workshops on solid-wall insulation and lime techniques proved popular,” Nigel continued.

“They showed just what’s possible, including adding insulation, renewable energy generation and battery storage.”

This year’s festival also aimed to support organisations in cutting carbon emissions, especially following on from the climate emergency declarations by several councils in the past year.

“We’re living in a critical time for our planet, with environmental protests and campaigns across Cumbria showing the mounting concern,” said Nigel.

CAfS offered Cumbria’s first two carbon and climate literacy training courses for the public, raising levels of awareness and understanding about the climate crisis and solutions. We hope to secure funding to run a programme of these courses across the county.”

CAfS also held a full-day climate emergency action summit in Carlisle, outlining ideas for possible responses by local authorities and communities.

“It was great to see our hands-on skills workshops on food growing and foraging all quickly sold out, and we hope to repeat these in the spring, leading into the next growing season,” Nigel said.

CAfS is now arranging an ongoing programme of green building and sustainable living events throughout the year, leading up to the main festival again in September 2020.