Our aim was to produce a simple, meaningful method of quantifying and understanding the impact of the project. - Simon Robinson, M:KC

This is an excerpt from the project story The Energy Academy - Manchester Knowledge Capital working with the Make Energy Change Happen Toolkit.  The Energy Academy project was jointly implemented by the Action for Sustainable Living, Manchester: Knowledge Capital and the Energy Saving Trust. Requirements and expectations of all three organisations, of external funders and of participants had to be aligned.

The progress of the Energy Academy is assessed through a series of criteria that are used to signify its effectiveness, its efficiency and the lessons to be learned from the Energy Academy. These criteria are used to monitor, evaluate and learn to what extent the aims and objectives of the Energy Academy are met.

Qualitative and quantitative measures used by the different project partners were brought together by M:KC. They were measures, according to Simon Robinson, “that were already sitting around and that no one was making use of in this way and using them to understand whether the project was successful or not”. This provides the basis for the whole project group to understand the progress of the project. Progress is monitored and discussed through a mixture of regular steering group meetings, via presentations, email exchanges, written summaries and informal meetings.

Effectiveness targets for the project include the following – all of which have been met and often significantly exceeded:

  • Personal engagement with 600 Greater Manchester residents
  • Predicted carbon savings of 891 tonnes (lifetime)
  • Community action teams of advocates set up
  • 15 trained advocates
  • 5 action groups, projects or events set up
  • 5 talks / workshops delivered to community groups
  • ·18 Community meetings attended
  • ·24 events attended
  • 15 articles and press releases

Efficiency is calculated on the basis of the outcome achieved for the amount of resources committed to the project:

  • Outcome: CO2 saved – which was calculated at 3861.42 tCO2 saved
  • Resources: Total Budget + estimate of staff and volunteer time + marketing materials – which totalled £20,000 + 9,932.93 + £5,115.12

In the course of the project, M:KC learned to mediate and manage the different expectations of stakeholders – both within the project group and also with volunteers and the public. As Simon Robinson characterizes it: “M:KC are overseers and coordinators and EST and AfSL are the deliverers of the services…So it sometimes feels like we’re the weld between these two very different organisations - a micro charity and a national body”. Understanding the expectations of the other project partners and finding an alignment or accommodation between them was fundamental to the Energy Academy’s success. This required regular communication between the partners – through steering group meetings, email exchanges, telephone calls, face-to-face meetings and at Energy Academy events. It was also based on personal relationships that have been developed over a period of time prior to the Energy Academy. This communication of expectations of the Energy Academy was a fundamental part of the learning process of how a project that involved three core partners could work for mutual benefit.