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Your influence map

In this article you will explore how you can make your own built environment influence map.
Close-up of women with retro car reading road map and making decisions about route

Now that you have read all about the different ways in which business, governments and society can all create change to reduce carbon in our built environment, it’s time to turn to you! To think about how you yourself can make a change.

Over the last four weeks you have explored the climate and carbon crisis, understood key carbon related concepts, and explored exciting case studies. We are now going to take this learning and apply it to your own life. How can you take this learning to implement one change within your home, work, or community?

To do this, we are going to be using the idea of ‘leverage points’ mentioned in the previous section. Leverage points are areas in a system where a small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything.

Take a big piece of paper and draw yourself in the middle. This is going to be your influence map! There you are, at the centre of your system.

Piece of paper with a stick man drawn in the middle

Next, without thinking too deeply, start writing down as much information as you can about the buildings and infrastructure you interact with on a daily basis:

  • What type of home do you live in?
  • If you work, is it in a building? What kind?
  • How do you travel and what infrastructure do you use?
  • What buildings do you pass on the way?
  • If you have children, do they go to a school or nursery?
  • What type of building is that? Where do you socialise or have leisure time?

Maybe some of these overlap. Note down all of these on your map and voila! You have a nice-looking map of your own personal built environment that you interact with each day.

a drawing of a stick man, surround it are descriptions of the buildings the person interacts with, such as a flat, the local library, roads, and a cafe

Next, we are going to go a step further to think about the people, organisations and institutions connected to these places. Draw them as additional lines on the map.

For example:

  • Who funds and maintains the pavements you walk on?
  • Which company provides electricity or heating in your home?
  • Who do you speak to at work?
  • What institution runs the local school or library?

Keep adding connections to your map. You might find that there are quite a few overlaps.

the same stick man diagram, this time with additional text such as 'housing association' connected to the flat, 'office building landlords' connected to the shared office, 'private owners' connected to the cafe, and 'local government and council' connected to the roads and library

Look at all these wonderful connections you have! You have now successfully created your own little personal systems map. We are now going to use this to think about how you could have most influence on reducing the carbon of your built environment.

Take a look at your map from a distance. Where do you see the most overlaps? Or the most information together? Are there any other interesting patterns you see?

Now use this information to think about how you might best influence your built environment to be lower carbon. Think about how each of those players might have skills or power to support your built environment to become more sustainable. For example, who might you speak to at work to discuss installing retrofit measures?

Using this, think about how you might target those areas and individuals to create a change. For example, if energy providers seem to pop up a lot, could you reach out to them to ask them to use more renewables sources of energy? If your family and friends pop up a lot, could you form a group to work together to share low carbon tips?

The areas with less connections might also indicate an area that you could have influence too. For example, you might notice that you don’t interact very much with your local authority. Maybe this could be an opportunity for you send them a letter to ask them to do more to make your community lower carbon? Or even better, participate in community engagement schemes that they run?

same piece of paper, this time there are two lines coming out of 'local government and council' saying '1. send letter encouraging government to take action to reduce carbon in its public buildings' and '2. join next community engagement session run by my local authority'.

The main aim to get creative and think about what most interests you, alongside where you can personally have the most influence. See what jumps out at you or makes you think.

Decide on a few things you would like to commit to, then go do them! These commitments you make will be unique to you, and will be based on a variety of factors including the amount of time you have available, and the resources you have access to. Do what feels achievable to you!

What did you find most surprising from this activity? Let us know in the comments.

This article is from the free online

An Introduction to Climate Change and Carbon Reduction in the Built Environment

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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