As an environmental charity we feel we should lead the way when it comes to saving the planet from humanity’s ravages.
Just because we put in solar panels and generate more electricity that we use, doesn’t mean we can sit back on our laurels. So, over the last few months we’ve been looking at what we do and how we do it and realised that in some ways we are still a sinner not a saint.
But, we’ve made a start. For example, we are slowly changing what we offer in the shop trying to source low impact and sustainable products from ethical suppliers. As a charity we can’t just give away the old stock and start afresh, we must at least cover our costs. This means many items are going on sale and, as we create space on the shelves, we intend to fill them with the right stuff!
We have begun a rolling maintenance programme to make the building ever more energy efficient such as increasing insulation and looking at replacing light sources with LEDs.
We realised that our biggest impact on the environment was our old central heating system, still using fossil fuels. Having done our research we decided the only way forward was to install an air source heat pump. The heat pump project has been developed after considering government promotion of clean heat from low carbon sources and consulting with a number of specialists in renewable technologies. It is a major step in making the Field Centre more resilient, sustainable, environmentally friendly and ‘future proof’ in terms of energy use.
Heat Pumps have the advantage of being cheap to run as well as having virtually no impact… the only drawback is that they are not produced in sufficient quantity to be low cost to buy… in fact they have a really big price tag for a building like ours. But, we’ve bitten the bullet and by the time you read this the work will have been agreed and may even have been undertaken. We thought members would like to know more.
An air source heat pump produces a ‘reverse refrigerator’ effect, using significantly less energy than would be needed to warm up rooms and or heat water directly. The energy generated by our existing solar panels could be used to assist in working the heat pump system and recent improvements in roof-space insulation will reduce building heat loss.
We encourage members to come along and have a look at the new system once it is installed and commissioned and we welcome any thoughts on any other improvements that could be made to help us further improve the buildings environmental credentials.
One trustee deserves a ‘mention in despatches’ Russell Thompson has taken on the overall lead on maintenance and apart from getting stuck in to jobs himself did all the research on the new system, found the supplier who could install it and even applied for a grant to offset 25% of the cost. Nice one Russell!
Thanks too are due to Dover District Council who made a grant towards the cost of loft insulation and to the government scheme LoCase who awarded a grant towards the cost of the new heating plant.