Encourage Your Neighbours into Action
If you live in a flat then you may need to work with your neighbours to retrofit energy efficiency measures. See our legal & technical section for more information.
It can be a challenge to convince your neighbours to act. This could be due to various reasons, such as doubts regarding the potential energy savings, concerns over disruption, or lack of finances or financial assistance to pay for the work. Essential for creating a successful retrofitting project is understanding that different stakeholders have different expectations of the project and will define its success in different ways.
We have provided tools and guidance to help you convince your neighbours into action:
- Understanding your neighbours
- Provide sufficient, easy to understand information highlighting the benefits of the retrofit
- Get in touch with the members who are keen for the retrofit to happen. Through these people other residents can be convinced
- Distribute information leaflets and materials to residents to generate interest
- Emphasise benefits rather than costs and offer possible details for financial assistance
- Assess possibilities for local partnerships to help convince fellow residents
Understanding your neighbours and taking strategic decisions that take into account their needs and wishes can improve the retrofitting process and help solve bottlenecks early on. View the template to create an overview of your building.
Provide sufficient, easy to understand information highlighting the benefits of the retrofit
The table below provides the general benefits a retrofitted building has in comparison to a non-retrofitted building. These benefits should be highlighted throughout the whole retrofitting project to ensure residents know what all the inconvenience within the building will result in. Also have a look at what is possible for my property, and add any information you or your neighbours might find useful, always present it in the simplest possible way.
|Reduce energy bills||Improved insulation helps to decrease heat loss and keep the cold out.|
|Increase the level of comfort in the home||Reducing draughty windows and cold walls results in better temperature control and a feeling of comfort.|
|Improve security and safety in properties||More safety created by replacing old and vulnerable windows with new, safer, and better insulated windows. Removing old heating systems also creates a safer building due to safer new technologies.|
|Increase property values||Retrofitted buildings are more interesting to prospective buyers because of their lower energy costs and increased comfort.|
|Improved appearance||External wall insulation or glazing upgrades improves the outer look of the property, making it look newer. This will also increase the value of a property. Furthermore, this will reduce maintenance in the long-term.|
Get in touch with the members who are keen for the retrofit to happen. Through these people other residents can be convinced
Gather all the people in your building who support the retrofitting project. These innovators are important in convincing other residents. It is important to include well-respected residents as people tend to be persuaded more easily by these people. Forming a resident’s project team with these so-called innovators will enhance the start of the retrofitting process.
Distribute information leaflets and materials to residents to generate interest
Gather professional and easy to read information and provide it in an attractive leaflet to your fellow residents. It is best if you can distribute the leaflets in person, so that your neighbours can immediately ask questions concerning the information provided. Make sure that the residents already in favour of the project provide unambiguous information (see what to do if you are in a minority). The information provided to the residents should be easy to understand and should not provide irrelevant information or information which is only important in later stages of the project. Also see communicate with your neighbours for additional tips.
It could happen that you, as the initiator of the retrofitting project, are in a minority position. This might seem daunting, but it is known that a minority opinion is more intriguing than a majority opinion in a group discussion. As a result, the minority opinion receives more attention and is more deeply discussed and thus can become stronger than a majority opinion. That is, rather than sharing viewpoints with group members in case of a majority message, a minority message receives careful scrutiny to find out the true value of the minority’s opinion. This validation process, if positive, leads to private acceptance which makes the attitude change more durable. Minorities can thus make an important source of innovation in groups.
To make your minority position (the need to retrofit) into a majority opinion, however, it is important that you maintain consistency in your opinion. You can do so by preparing well in advance and collect strong arguments for example with the help of external experts and/or show examples of best practices elsewhere. While being in the minority it is important that you consolidate a good relationship with your fellow residents. So, at times, you may also bend to their opinion, for example in case of opposition, acknowledging your understanding of their doubts, or give in on other unrelated decisions. However, remain consistent and persistent in arguing for your case. Because minority opinions can provide the best solutions it is important that project teams allow having these opinions to be discussed. Furthermore, you have to strive for a unanimous decision rule rather than having a majority-rules procedure. If simply a majority vote would decide whether a measure is implemented minority opinions can be easily disregarded. Within a project team, you would thus do best to strive for broad consensus by stressing the benefits for all and asking the approval of all.
Emphasise benefits rather than costs and offer possible details for financial assistance
The first question your neighbours will ask is “how much will this cost?”. This is a valid question, but very difficult to answer. As suggested in point 2, always emphasise the benefits of the retrofit throughout your process. Also emphasise that the value of your building will increase and that energy costs will decrease. But be honest and indicate that a full overview of costs is complex and that it would be better to first investigate the state of the building, possible interventions and potential sources of funding.
Assess possibilities for local partnerships to help convince fellow residents
Try to form a partnership with the local authority or any other support organisations active in energy retrofitting and with knowledge about condominiums. External help might convince some neighbours to act. For instance, a project operating at council level could be helpful in communicating with your neighbours what options are possible. It is important to follow this up in person or with a meeting because some residents might not understand the information. Also see “communicate with your neighbours” for additional tips.