Frequently asked questions

Will the building be accessible to as many as possible?

Yes, accessibility and inclusivity is an essential criteria for ZCG’s premises. We will however also be constrained by the willingness of landlords to engage in our business model.

Have you considered the possible need for planning consent  for change of use?

Yes, and we’ve spoken to councillors / council officers. It looks like it should be fairly straightforward.

Some of these ideas require scale eg vertical farming - does that imply a larger venue like an out of centre retail park?

We would ideally like the building to be in the town centre (High St / Upper High St) because a) location is very important b) we intend it to be attractive to drop-ins. We are keeping our options open, but have decided that for the first iteration location trumps size.

Have you approached Guildford Allotment Society?

Yep, they didn’t respond to 2 emails although this was during lockdown so possible they were missed.

As an apolitical organisation can you/ will you try to coordinate efforts to influence local and national environmental policies?

Yes, charities are permitted to engage in campaigning which is aligned with the charitable objectives.

What is needed to keep it politically neutral?

This is a complicated answer. In a nutshell, as long as genuine attempts are made all political parties are treated equally and inclusively (and bringing the whole community together is the crux of this project) then a CIO is permitted to undertake certain political and campaigning activity, as long as it’s legal. Here's more information from the Charity Commission on what a charity is and isn't allowed to do.

A significant amount of emissions come from cheap housing, poor insulation, water use & cheaper white goods. What ideas have you for this?

This is a great example of where we need community input for ideas. One thing we are keen to do is use the centre for training around retrofitting etc, as well as creating a ‘1 stop shop’ where people can find council & Government schemes to improve energy efficiency. One of the groups has also run ‘warmth hubs’ which is something we’ll hopefully expand on. And education is also key to this. Many people are limited in what they can outlay for white goods, electronics etc, but in the long term buying the best you can afford will save money and emissions.

How will the plans need to change if Covid restrictions persist through 2021?

Honestly, we don’t know yet, everything is so unpredictable it’s very hard to say. However, ‘Covid centres’ are allowed far greater flexibility on what they can do, and our pals in the Ilford Climate Emergency Centre are using their old Homebase for covid related help. The project is about building resilience and strength in our community and local economy, so we could think about different ways to open with a focus on Covid related issues - many of which are inextricably linked to ecological destruction.

Will the CEC take custom, income and members away from existing venues in the town centre such as Church Halls, Quaker centre etc?

It won’t take members. The project is about promoting and platforming the groups and work already happening in the borough, not competing. We will be offering space for groups to gather. We’ve not worked out a payment structure yet.

What size building do you think we'll need?

Between 2000-5000 sq ft.

Are you looking to include catering facilities (like the Talking Tree project in Staines)?

Yes ideally, but it’s dependent on the building and licensing. We want to set up a vegetarian / vegan cafe, and have approached existing local cafes. If this is not possible we will look to bring in a rotating shift of food, so say Monday is Lord Falafel day, tuesday is Surrey Hills Pizza etc.

What Is Zero Carbon Guildford Doing?

We’re a collection of Guildford residents and organisations aiming to build cross-community collaboration to tackle, and adapt to, the climate emergency. Zero Carbon Guildford is creating a ‘Climate Emergency Centre’ as a physical base from which we can work on building a community led climate action plan, to help the borough mitigate and adapt to climate change. Read more about Zero Carbon Guildford here.

What Is A Climate Emergency Centre?

Climate Emergency Centres - or CEC’s - are community spaces designed to tackle the climate and ecological crisis. This might include education on the climate and ecological crisis, methods and solutions for eliminating waste, and tips to help individuals, businesses, and organisations reduce their carbon footprints.

Can I Get Involved With The Guildford Climate Emergency Centre?

We would LOVE to have you on board. There are countless different projects you can get involved with, from reducing food waste and single use plastic to helping vulnerable Guildford residents who are experiencing fuel poverty. Volunteers are at the heart of everything we do, and our lofty ambitions can only be realised with significant support and volunteering from the Guildford community. Get in touch with us today to see how you can help.

Why Are You Focusing On Climate Change?

We are on a trajectory toward of 4°C warming above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. Human civilisation has never existed outside the very stable climate of the Holocene, and we can't predict how we will handle this. Most models suggest 4° warming willbe catastrophic for the majority of life on earth, with mass crop failure and an unprecedented migration crisis. But it's not to late to reverse this trajectory. We can still stay below 2° warming IF we begin an immediate, managed transition, and start the process of adaptation and resilience building if we are to cope with the worst effects of the climate emergency.

Can I Donate To Climate Change Charities?

You can donate to us! Zero Carbon Guildford is a registered charity, (1192880). We rely on grants and donations to carry out projects which help Guildford residents, and which support Guildford’s push for carbon neutrality. The easiest way to donate to Zero Carbon Guildford is via our donations webpage.

Isn't The UK Already 'Fixing' Climate Change

The ambition and urgency of most global governments is WAY off what’s needed to avert the worst of the climate crisis. The UK's Climate Change Committee shows that the UK is meeting only 2 of its 31 obligations to tackle the climate crisis. There is so much more that could be done. About 15% of fossil fuel financing goes through the City Of London, something that could be regulated if there was politcial will. The UK government has scrapped energy efficiency planning laws and renewable energy subsidies, whilst supporting airport expansion - all of these are wholly incompatible with reaching the UK's legislated - and in itself inadequte - target of carbion neutrality by 2050. As communities, we cannot wait for governments to safeguard our future. The time to act is now, and theyn are not.

Are There Other Climate Emergency Centres?

A decentralised network of independent Climate Emergency Centres is building across the UK. Those currently open include Ilford Climate Emergency Centre, The Talking Tree in Staines, and Lewes CEC. There are groups in many other towns and cities currently looking for vacant buildings in which they can begin building community around tackling the climate emergency.

Can I Start A Climate Emergency Centre?

You definitely should! First you should check if there’s a local local group setting one up in your area. CECs are a collaborative effort and need significant community support to get started, so don’t try to go it alone. If there are no plans in your area, begin by laying out the basic premise to other social and environmental groups, invite them to a Zoom planning session, and start brainstorming.

Where Can I Find Support To Open A Climate Emergency Centre?

There is a Climate Emergency Centre website, on which you can find a Handbook, and various other bits of advice on setting up a CEC. Each CEC is autonomous, so you can follow the path that your collective feels will work best for your location, but the guides will set you off in the right direction.