Wednesday, 12 June 2013

How UK Crowdfunding is Helping Towards a Clearner and Greener Environment

It is hard to ignore the increasing news reports of the effects of climate change.Whether it is global warming, food shortages, or increased rates of carbon dioxide, the change which is reported to irrevocably harm our planet has over decades been met with a call to for radical change in human living. Renewable and clean energy, sustainable crops, and cutting emissions have become a part of human vocabulary and daily life. Through crowdfunding various projects and platforms have helped raise awareness and bring means to life of switching to alternative energies, greener transport, and growing our own food. Here are a few examples.
Image Credit; Free Grunge Textures
The Bristol Cycling Manifesto

Bristol is increasingly cementing its reputation as a cycling city. Sales are on the rise, along with the provision of painted cycle lanes as well as off road routes in and out of the city. Last year crowdfunding played a big part in securing the establishment of Roll For The Soul, a one stop cafe and resource centre for all things cycling related. The project exceeded its funding target and Roll For The Soul is due to open later in the summer. Recently crowdfunding once again has helped secure funding for an initiative to usher Bristol into a new cycling age. 

The idea behind the Bristol Cycling Manifesto calls on the city's Mayor-led council to implement a comprehensive road framework for cyclists. These include a segregated and interconnected cycling freeway into and out of the city, lower speed limits (20 mph), and creation of map detailing all off road and/or cycle-centric routes. Project owner Eric Booth needed £800 and turned to crowdfunding via Crowdfunder for to raise the necessary funds. The campaign was a success raising £917 and plans are under to put the manifesto together along with a petition campaign to get sufficient support for a council debate.

Whirliglo Verticle Food Planter

Food shortages and increased costs are increasing the levels of people in starvation in both more affluent nations as well those in the developing world. Whirliglo is a vertical food planter that stands at 1 metre tall and can grow between 30 - 60 individual plants. It is designed to facilitate food growth in homes with little or no growing space, making it ideal for urban neigbourhoods. The man with the plan, Ian Findlay, needed £4,000 to develop working prototypes to be field tested. For this Ian sought funds through the crowdfunding platform  Bloom VC, and offered as part of the reward scheme a number of successfully tested prototypes. The campaign was a success and the Whirliglo Verticle Food Planter exceeded the £4,000 target. 

The plan however proposed going beyond just marketing the units for urban households looking to save on produce shopping. More ambitious plans using the model of the Whirliglo include creating viable plots for planting from derelict brown lands, composting projects, and taking the Whirliglo idea to be used in developing countries. Food shortage and poverty are leaving millions starving around the world. Thanks to crowdfunding, the Whirliglo planter could  pave the way to feeding the hungry and making food shortages a thing of the past. 

Image Credit; Ell Brown 
Abundance Generation

Many projects find their funds through various crowdfunding service providers, yet one UK platform was established solely for projects aimed at providing clean, renewable energy. Abundance Generation, at first reads like an equity - based crowdfunding platform as it talks about investments and returns, which might frighten some people away. However the opportunity to invest is open to anyone who wishes to help bolster support for clean energy, by donating as little as £5 for the project of their choice with the potential to double their investment

Interested investors register with Abundance Generation and browse the available projects in search of funding. Investments are then made by purchasing debentures, essentially legal IOUs produced by the energy project owner. Throughout the life term of the debenture, which can be as long as 25 years, the investor receives a fixed percentage of revenue generated from the energy produced. To date three projects, supplying energy through wind and solar power, have secured total funds of £2,285,000.

Planning permission for new developments are risky and unsettling with communities fearing for the loss of green belt land, or domination of their communities by big businesses, to name a few. Spacehive is the UK's first crowdfunding platform for civic projects and developments. Visitors can browse for projects benefiting communities such as play parks or leisure centres and pledging a monetary donation, and if successfully funded, see the project come to fruition. 
Spacehive is also accessible for anyone with ideas for developing facilities for their community including  local people with ideas for green spaces, as well as professional designers and businesses pitching ideas to communities directly. 

Image Credit; Tim Parkinson 
The projects featured on Spacehive include the creation of an urban oasis in the city of Manchester, building of a new play area in Hanover to encourage children to be more fit and active as well as a herb garden and transformation of a disused building into a gallery. With the coalition government's controversial decision to relax the UK's planning laws, Spacehive offers the possibility for more environmentally focused, and most needed projects suitably in keeping with the community.

No comments:

Post a Comment