A vision for the future

4 June 2021
Stuart Bird, chair of Sustainable Danbury, writes.

The year is 2050 and it’s a lovely spring morning, the sun is streaming into the bedroom; I open the window of my now super insulated house and smell the fresh but clean air outside. Due to the insulation it’s not cold in the house but I switch on my electrically powered heat pump anyway and put the kettle on. The house control system asks if I want to take the power from my electric car or import from the grid. The car charged up fully the day before using the free energy from my solar panels and as I only have the normal short journeys to make today I say yes to using the power from the battery.

After breakfast I pack my bag for work and decide I will take my e-bike to the local business hub and use one of the office pods there. I enjoy working from home a few days a week but enjoy the local hub better as there are other people around and many of them I consider to be friends, plus the café and facilities at the hub are great. At lunch time I play a quick game of tennis on the local courts that are only a short walk from the business hub. I still travel into the central office twice a week but I don’t miss commuting every day! Besides with Global Britain I now do a lot of work with people across the globe so I can work from anywhere.

After tennis I pop over to the Post Office collection point to pick up a delivery, I usually have parcels delivered to the house by the Royal Mail electric delivery vehicle which has the contract for all local deliveries in Danbury – no more of those multiple white vans dashing all over the place. The Royal Mail service does its rounds twice a day so I never have to wait long for things.

At 3pm I get twitchy feet so head over to the community market garden and tend the tomatoes that I am in charge of in the larger of the two greenhouses we have. The produce from the market garden provides nearly 60% of the village’s total fresh food and thanks to the community energy company with its network of solar panels and battery storage any excess energy is used to heat the green houses meaning we have a long growing season. It only takes 30 mins to ensure all is well with the tomatoes and then I head back to the hub for another couple of hours of very productive work, as I am high on all those plant pheromones! I eventually head back home but take a longer route across the common using the multi-use paths that are kept clear of mud in winter.

I switch off the power assist on my e-bike and enjoy a last bit of exercise before getting home and cooking dinner for my wife and family. My children are at different educational establishments but also work from home periodically. The youngest goes to the local primary school every day but mostly goes in our electric cargo bike with me or my wife. No one drives these days unless it is pouring with rain but even then everyone uses the school’s car share app to minimise the number of vehicle trips.

The sun has not shone so much today but the solar panels have still topped up my car battery enough for me to power the house during the evening and still get me to Reading for an important customer meeting tomorrow.

I check my carbon calculator app: another carbon neutral day;actually most days I don’t bother looking because we are all carbon neutral now. I haven’t noticed that I am missing anything in life and especially not the smell and noise of all those vehicles thundering pass me around the village. But I do have a greater appreciation of the energy I do consume and look to minimise it as much as possible; it was really just a new habit I had to get into and now everyone does it, well it’s become second nature.

The community spirit in Danbury is really great especially as many of us spend much more time in the village. The many events throughout the year are great and the resilience of the community is so much stronger. We have welcomed so many younger families to the village with the sensitive development of eco houses. Many of the new residents are returning sons and daughters of existing residents. The age demographic has returned to near the national average and so many of our older residents have been able to stay in the village due to the excellent new care homes and smaller later life bungalows that have been built.

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