Collective Action

At CCR, we recognize that different people 'come to the table' with different motives and resources. They might:
  • Want to reduce the risks of climate change
  • Want to reduce their energy bills
  • Seek greater energy security
  • Have a product or service to sell
  • Want to feel good about themselves
  • Desire that others look favorably on them
  • Want to increase the value of their property
  • Improve the comfort of that property

Owners and Occupiers

Carbon reduction efforts are made especially challenging when a property is involved. This is because the owner of the building, who will probably be the one spending the money, is not always the occupant of that building, who will be the beneficiary of improved efficiency. This is a classic problem in public policy. 

The problem is not insurmountable. But it does mean that the motives to participate in a project may differ for owners and occupants. Owners will generally rely on the hope that their property will become more desirable after a project, with higher rental rates and/or higher rates of occupancy. This means they will have increased the asset value of the property. Occupants benefit from factors such as reduced energy costs or greater comfort in their rented home.

At CCR, we find it especially easy to deal with owner-occupiers, meaning individuals or organizations that both own and occupy a property. So these are often the properties that are the first to conduct projects. But we are here to help projects that involve any combination of owners and occupiers.
We don't care which of these motives you have, so long as those motives cause you to take actions that reduce the risks of climate change. 
All of these people are welcome at the table of a project. 

A common feature of our activities is community mobilization - bringing together diverse 'actors' to work collectively on a climate project. Our first step is to identify the actors in a community - the people and organisations who influence a climate project. The specific actors we engage, support and mobilize through CCR are:
1. Project owners.
 Projects begins with stimulating demand for the product or service, and hence our process turns first to the ownership chain and then creates the supply chain around that.  

2. Delivery agents.
  CCR projects require organisations that can deliver at-scale, on-time and within budget. 

3. Suppliers.
 Delivery agents will install solutions, but their materials usually are purchased from one of the supply companies. 

4. Financiers. A project requires finance on the best possible terms to make a strong business case for it. That finance might be in the form of debt, equity or grants (usually from the government). 

5. Innovators. 
Many of the materials required for projects are in the market, but there are more effective, and cost-effective, solutions sitting on the drawing boards of innovators and entrepreneurs. 

6. Educators. 
Moving the public forward on projects requires nudges and education, creating demand, letting neighbors and peers learn from the successes of others, and aggregating that demand.

7. Policy makers and planners.
 CCR lobbies and supports policy and planning authorities to facilitate and provide incentives to low carbon projects. 

8. Researchers. CCR maintains a global network of researchers to ensure our analyses and advice reflect the latest advances in science, engineering and policy.


Carbon reduction projects are a classic 'collective action' problem. We might reduce carbon one building at a time, but this will be expensive (there is no economy of scale) and will take too long. Reductions at community scale, meaning large blocks of buildings are being improved in one set of projects, requires coordinating and mobilising the actions of diverse groups in a community, forming them into a network that aggregates demand, delivery and finance. The result: lower cost for projects, creating a much stronger business case, and 'nudges' to the various groups to participate (who wants to be the last person on the block to improve their home?). 

Projects pass through four stages, shown below. It is essential that the project begin with a sound assessment of the magnitude of carbon emissions and the reasons for those emissions (the building type, energy uses etc). Resources will be limited and must be directed towards the most significant causes of emissions. And people will lose interest quickly if they see money being wasted on ineffective projects.

The entire process of creating a community-scale project is shown in the  picture below, using the example of retrofits of buildings. The process appears complicated, and it is, but all of the steps are needed to ensure the community comes to 'own' the project. 

For an example of how these were applied in a particular community, visit the Cambridge Retrofit site.