Friday, March 26, 2010 - 11:00

This week sees the release of an eagerly awaited, exciting and informative report from The 21st Century Living Project.

The project report called Home Front is a partnership between home enhancement retailer Homebase, Cornwall’s Eden Project, (an educational charity); and Acona, Home Retail Group’s CR consultancy. It represents the culmination of over twelve month’s extensive investigation with 100 nationally representative families who were challenged to reduce their environmental footprint.

At Homebase, part of Home Retail Group, they wanted to gain in depth knowledge of customers’ needs for green projects; the findings are already informing decisions and will allow them to develop new products to help customer’s live more sustainable lives.

The four key findings of the project were:
1. This is a mass market opportunity
2. Money and savings are strong motivators of action
3. Personal advice is very important
4. There is opportunity for innovation in products and services

Rosi Watson, head of corporate responsibility for Home Retail Group, said: “It has shown us that given the right information and incentives, everyone will invest in greener homes regardless of their background and values.

It has given us a better understanding of what customers want and need when it comes to saving energy and reducing their waste, and we are now developing products and services to meet these needs.”
Tim Smit, Eden Project's Chief Executive said: “We are delighted to find that this research supports our experience: you don't have to be a hippy to go green, it's easier to make changes than you think, and given the right information, plenty of encouragement and some cash, people are generally inclined to do the right thing.”

The project looked at four areas: energy, waste, water and other environmental behaviours like travel. 100 households were selected to represent the nation – including all demographics, social groups and house types. They were challenged to do what they could to reduce their environmental footprint.

Homebase gave each household £500 to spend on making their home more efficient and a selection of ‘green’ products and equipment. A home audit was conducted at the beginning, and end, of the project and they were supported with a project manager and on line advice and information. 61 households received a thermal image survey of their property.

Energy use was the top priority for everybody.
• overall, 81% of households took at least one energy-saving measure, with an average saving of 10%
• 58% increased their use of low-energy light bulbs
• 23% replaced white goods with more efficient models

There were some improvements in waste reduction
• Average recycling rates rose from 58% at the start of the project to 63% by the end
• 14% installed compost bins or wormeries

There was one significant action on water conservation reported by the group.
• 21% installed a water butt

Travel was the area embraced by our participants with least enthusiasm. The majority of our households did not claim a change to their travel arrangements.

Interestingly, the most enjoyable activity was ‘Grow Your Own’, it was generally felt to be one of the most fun and satisfying changes by those who made it.

The full report can be viewed from 26th March 2010 on line at: