Energy and Sustainability

Welcome to Module 1 of the Energy Tutorial

Access to secure, clean and sustainable energy supplies is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity today. This module will explain where energy comes from, what it’s used for and why it matters, particularly in terms of its contribution to climate change. This is really important context for your volunteering: these are the reasons why we need to improve our energy use and why it’s so great that you’re going to help us make a difference by volunteering as an Energy Envoy!

Below you will find a number of factsheets, activities and videos that will introduce you to aspects of energy and sustainability. Spend Week 1 of your volunteering going through these materials for one hour. Don’t worry if you don’t have time to look at them all, but do try to look at a mixture of factsheets, activities and videos. If you’ve volunteered as an Energy Envoy before, go through materials you didn’t look at last time or remind yourself of information you might have forgotten.

Make notes in your Activity Log or start a Learning Journal to record key points as you go. Keeping this record will help remind you of what we’ve covered in the Energy Tutorial and how this relates to your own experiences. This will be really helpful when it comes to applying what you’ve learnt to your energy project from Week 4.

If you haven’t already, make sure you have taken our Energy Quiz first to find out how much you already know about energy!

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Energy and climate change

What's energy used for?

Non-renewable and renewable resources

Renewable energy systems

Renewable energy systems compared


2050 energy calculator

Power your postcode

Calculate your carbon footprint

Let's do some research!


The videos below explain topics such as where energy comes from, what climate change is, the greenhouse effect and how renewable energy technologies work. There are also a few talks from key people involved with energy sustainability:

  • Lord Nicholas Stern studies the economics of climate change. He is the author of the seminal 2006 Review on the Economics of Climate Change, one of the most influential papers discussing the real economic implications of addressing (or not addressing) climate change. His talk is about how we can use the climate crisis to achieve better lives for all.

  • Rob Hopkins is the founder of the Transition movement, a radically hopeful and community-driven approach to creating societies independent of fossil fuels. The Transition movement is greatly aligned with the growing community energy sector in the UK, the significance of which was highlighted in the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s first ever Community Energy Strategy in 2014. Is there a Transition Town near you?

You can watch more TED Talks about climate change here. There are also some interesting films to watch about climate change, such as An Inconvient Truth (2006) and The Age of Stupid (2009).