Mukti Mitchell, ‘Smart Home’ pioneer and trailblazing eco sailor, introduces innovative events at Big Green Week offering advice for living and travelling sustainably.

I’m very excited to be taking part in Big Green Week next month, joining fellow Bristolian entrepreneurs like Big Green Week’s founder Darren Hall and sustainable travel pioneer Ross Porter, to present an inspirational programme of ‘Smart Living’ events.

There is a growing buzz around the concept of “Smart Living”, and I think that “Smart” is the new “Green”.  The older generation of environmentalists – such as ‘Green Godfather of Bristol’ Alastair Sawday, Jonathon Porritt and Satish Kumar – operated under the ‘green’ banner, with an emphasis on doing what’s good for the planet.  ‘Smart Living’ is a step forward from ‘green’ because it puts our own self interests first. As the Dalai Lama says, “Be wisely selfish”. It’s about making ethical, sustainable choices that that come back to hug us rather than haunt us – choices that achieve everything we want at once – inner happiness, physical health, vibrant communities, happy cities and a happy planet.

But how can being selfish really work for the planet?  Soon after writing my book The Guide to Low Carbon Lifestyles, I built and sailed a eco micro-yacht around Britain in 2007, spreading the message that “low-carbon living improves your quality of life”.  After the tour, I gave workshops where we looked at the lifestyle activities that most improve our quality of life, and these led me to an important discovery. Filling in my questionnaires, all the activities people reported enjoying the most – such as eating tasty organic food, getting out into nature and swimming in the ocean – all have a low carbon footprint. The results showed me that if we bring all our intelligence to acting in our own self-interest and long-term happiness, the choices we make will automatically be good for our community and good for the planet.  That’s why it is aptly called “Smart Living”!

HomeInsulation

Events I am involved in at Big Green Week that clearly demonstrate the new Smart Living concept,  include a ‘Smart Homes’ session at Bristol’s Watershed on Monday 13th June (2-6pm), and at a hotly anticipated ‘Smart Living – In Your Home and on our Oceans’ event at the Architecture Centre on Wednesday 15th June (7-9pm).

We’re thrilled that the wonderful Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud will be joining our roster of experts for the Smart Homes afternoon session on the 13th, sharing his mission to create homes that “lift the spirits” and are a pleasure to live in. At this event, as director of CosyHome Company – award-winning for its energy-saving insulation solutions for Britain’s old homes – I will explain one aspect of making beautiful old homes into smart homes, which is retrofitting advanced secondary glazing and comprehensive insulation, which can halve the heat loss.  This makes you warm and saves money whilst preserving your property’s beauty and character.  By dramatically reducing fuel bills, home insulation is one of the highest returning investments available today, and it’s very good for the planet: CosyHome aims to catalyse a retrofitting revolution in the UK which will cut the national carbon footprint by 10%.

On Wednesday the Architecture Centre showcases the exciting event ‘Smart Living – In Your Home and on our Oceans’.  At the event, Ross Porter, founder of a new trans-Atlantic sustainable ferry service ‘Voyage Vert’ will introduce this exciting alternative to flight. The project will commence running 72ft racing yachts for a dozen passengers from Bristol to New York.  Meanwhile they are developing concept sailing ships based on the latest yacht design technology that will carry 200 passengers across the Atlantic in under a week.  Ocean wildlife advocate and James-Bond stunt man Nicholas Daines will join Ross for a discussion about the solutions needed to reduce the impact of flying.  And for the “smart living in your homes” section I will give a talk about the art of retrotting old homes so this is a second opportunity to find out how smart, cost-effective insulation solutions can bring traditional properties up to modern standards of thermal efficiency whilst preserving their beauty.  You will also be able to find out more about the pioneering work of CosyHome Company.

Big Green Week is offering lots of opportunities to actively get involved in making a difference by taking your own Smart Living initiatives during the week. This includes a ‘Spark Something Good’ campaign which invites Bristol residents to help transform 24 community projects over seven days of volunteering. For more information on this, visit http://biggreenweek.com/spark-something-good/ 

I would like to finish off by offering three smart calls to action you can take during Big Green Week.

 Simple: Have a spring clean and donate the things you don’t need to charity.

Save Money: Sign up for a water meter. It’s free, and it will save you money. www.bristolwater.co.uk/your-home/water-meters

Smart Move: Insulate your house. You can reduce your bills by up to 50%. And summer is the best time to prepare for winter! www.cosyhomecompany.co.uk

More information

Mukti Mitchell is Director of the award-winning CosyHome Company, which retrofits energy saving insulations for period properties. The author of The Guide to Low Carbon Lifestyles (downloadable at www.lowcarbonlifestyle.org.uk) and five highly commended online carbon calculators, Mukti has been leading a low carbon lifestyle for 15 years. A director of pioneering sustainable ferry service Voyage Vert, he famously sailed around Britain in a zero-emission micro yacht, and is an acclaimed writer and speaker on low carbon living.

The ‘Smart Homes’ event (featuring Kevin McCloud) takes place at Watershed, Canon’s Road, BS1 5TX on 13th June, 2-6pm. £10 (adv), £12.50 (door)

‘Smart Living – in your Home and on our Oceans’ on 15th June, 7-9pm, takes place at the Architecture Centre, Narrow Quay, BS1 4QA. Free event

Mukti Mitchell’s Home Energy Clinics – answering questions on home energy saving 10-11.30am, Monday-Thursday, 13th-16th June at Primrose Cafe, 1 Boyces Avenue, Clifton BS8 4AA