Few residents came to meetings outside their building. We thus started organising meetings where they usually have gatherings: in the staircase. People only had to walk out of their door to join. A lot more people attended! - Agris Kamenders, Ekodoma Ltd

This is an excerpt from the pilot project story  Energy Efficiency for Latvian Multi-Apartment Dwellings Ekodoma working with the Make Energy Change Happen Toolkit. Here, we describe how Agris Kamenders selected the best tools for engaging his particular target group. There is no one best way to engage a target group. It depends very much on the context and focus of the project. “Our renovation project focuses on investment behaviour and aims to convince residents of multi-apartment buildings to support the renovation. We thus were looking for the best tools to encourage residents to take a common, approving decision” says Agris. Based on the specific context of the this project Ekodoma chose to combine the following tools to engage their target group:

Use emotional appeals
During meetings with residents many pictures are shown. Agris explains: “These pictures might have shocked people by zooming in the often poor state of their building. But we also showed images of already renovated building to help residents imagine the effects of a renovation. It helps to encourage them to vote in favour of renovation plans”.
 
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Use rational appeals
Residents and the building management company are, of course, very interested in the amount of money different renovation options cost and how much energy savings can be achieved. “Therefore we presented results of investment cost calculations and possible savings based on expertise and previous projects. These calculations answered a lot of the questions residents had about the investments they needed to make” according to Agris.
 

Provide transparent and understandable information
Agris also points out the relevance of information which is easy to understand by the target group. “We tried to make our information as understandable and transparent as possible by using images of the buildings the residents are living in, thermographic pictures of the buildings and graphs. We explained these in face-to-face meetings with residents in order to invite clarifying questions and be open to feedback and criticism.”

Build trust and confidence
Ekodoma is an energy advisor, independent from large companies and the government. “Residents trust us and we can easily operate as a facilitator of trust-building measures between the building management company and residents” according to Agris. “We further strengthened the trust between our organisation and the residents by inviting elders of already renovated buildings, to discuss problems and benefits related to renovation during informational meetings with residents of non-renovated buildings. Hearing the experience of an outsider who had no personal interest in this project increased the enthusiasm of the residents for renovation”.

Provide support and services
Elatvian_case_4.jpgkodoma offers support and other services according to the needs of the residents. “We support the residents of each building interested in renovation differently because the process of deciding on a specific renovation and financing plan is different in every case and often depends on the opinion and engagement of the building manager and elder.”

Agris gives an example: “In one building we helped organising meetings with residents in which they were informed about the renovation. We noticed that not many residents came to a meeting we held in an external meeting room. We decided to try another strategy and organised a meeting the same way and in the same location they usually have residents’ gatherings if there is something to decide: in the staircases of the building! Residents thus only had to walk out of their door to join us. It was an unusual experience for us but a lot more people joined our meeting!”