Last night the National Trust celebrated the charity’s first ever Environmental Awards, with environmental champions from around the East of England scooping prizes in ten categories, including Green Team of the Year.
Miranda Campbell, Environmental Practices Adviser for the East of England, was at last night’s green carpet event and gives us the scoop on the evenings awards and winners…
These awards are a fantastic way to shine a light on and celebrate the amazing, but sometime overlooked, work that our places do to improve their environmental performance and will hopefully inspire others with their ideas and enthusiasm.
Here at the Trust we’re committed to reducing energy consumption by 20% by 2020, of the remaining 80%, half will be from a renewable source. And it’s got off to a great start, with installation of an award-winning marine-source heat pump, two hydropower schemes and a biomass boiler; with a further woodchip boiler planned for Ickworth in Suffolk in 2015.
Last night’s ceremony was about recognising and rewarding the innovation and hard work going on at the Trust’s properties in the Eastern region.
And the winners were…
Meter Manager of the Year – Richard Lee, Blickling Estate
An award celebrating some of our un-sung heroes, the individuals who carry out the vital service of reading property energy and water meters each month. Richard has been with the Trust for 20 years and ensures all 61 meters at Blickling are read on time and all the necessary data entered. He never misses a meter and even organises his leave around the meter read weeks to ensure they are completed on time. During that time he’s had to battle through shoulder-height stinging nettles to find water meters, knelt in an ants’ nest whilst sticking his head in the chamber to see a reading only to get up and find ants crawling all over him, had to move frogs off meters so he can read the numbers, and had to fend off curious cows!
Green Kitchen of the Year – Felbrigg Hall
Not surprisingly our restaurants and cafés account for a large percentage of our energy and water use – but our kitchens are making a real difference by becoming more resource efficient. Energy efficiency was a priority when creating Felbrigg Hall’s new tearoom (The Squire’s Pantry), with LED light bulbs and new low consumption electric heaters installed. The energy use of all kitchen appliances is monitored, with timers ensuring nothing is left on unnecessarily. All of the food waste produced in the kitchens goes to compost, while glass and materials are recycled. Unsold bread and scones are re-used as the ideal ingredient for a tasty bread pudding, while coffee grinds are given to the Walled Garden as they make a good slug repellent!
Holiday Cottage Hero Award – Elizabeth and Don Headley, Dunwich Heath
Caretakers not only ensure our 44 holiday cottages around the region are looking their best for our guests, but can also make a big difference in their energy usage, by turning off appliances and making sure heating is set appropriately, especially between stays. Elizabeth Headley has been looking after four holiday cottages at Dunwich Heath for eight years, along with her husband Don, who has been a volunteer caretaker for four years. During that time they have improved general recycling, including constructing rain water butts and compost bins. Plastic bottles and old kitchen utensils are re-used as containers for growing plants on the allotment.
Best Energy Reduction (sponsored by Good Energy) – Oxburgh Hall
This award was about celebrating our properties that have made the greatest improvements in energy saving within the last year. Oxburgh Hall has reduced its energy use by a staggering 35% since 2013. It’s achieved this by LED lighting and changing catering practices, but especially through installing a much more efficient, controllable heating system, which not only saves energy but is better for conserving the beautiful 15th century Hall and its contents. This is all despite opening a new holiday cottage.
Green Team of the Year – Sheringham Park
It’s everyone’s responsibility to improve environmental performance. This award celebrates our most outstanding ‘green’ team for the past year. Everyone at Sheringham Park is on board with reducing energy impact. As a result of the team’s concentrated efforts, electricity use has decreased to 25% reduction against its 2009 baseline, which is a fantastic achievement largely won through fitting timers to eight water heaters, changing lighting to LED and experimenting with measures such as installing new switchgear for the sewage treatment plant so that they could reduce its operation time and considerable electricity use. Toilets are flushed with water collected from a rainwater harvesting system and new efficient hand driers have been installed.
The Park’s new biomass heating system has eliminated the use of oil from the visitor centre area entirely. Timber is extracted sustainably from the Park and chipped by a team of volunteers, very much in the spirit of “grow your own”. They are expecting to use around 35 tonnes of chip per year – around 1.5 double decker buses full!
Wise Use of Water Award (sponsored by Anglian Water) – Blickling
The team at Blickling have been busy making an array of improvements. A big project is the restoration of a Victorian water management system, which includes a waterwheel, so that it now diverts rain and groundwater to a new irrigation system that feeds the Walled Garden. The system has the added benefit of reducing the risk of the house flooding. Blickling has also been working with agricultural fishing and other stakeholders such as the Environment Agency, Internal Drainage Board and the Broads Catchment Partnership to deliver water and environmental benefits reaching beyond the property boundaries. This includes natural processes being introduced in the River Bure – such as the placement of logs and other large woody debris – to trap silt and filter pollution in the river channel. A new culvert has also been installed in the steam running through the estate, helping to control its flow. This has helped reduce the amount of sediment reaching Blickling’s lake, improving water quality, maintaining the health of the lake and also reducing the risk of the hall flooding.
Fit for the Future Award – Ickworth
Recognising effort made to help ensure we improve our environmental performance in the future. Premises Manager David Richardson has led the way at Ickworth with the installation of a variety of energy and water saving measures, reducing energy use despite increased opening times and the opening of the servants’ basement to visitors.
These measures include the use of low-energy LED bulbs in chandeliers and show rooms, and restoration and recommissioning of the Edwardian rainwater harvesting system. New projects are designed to minimise environmental impact from the start, such as a log boiler to heat the Porter’s Lodge visitor reception,and an air source heat pump for the new plant centre and toilets. Future improvements include plans for using rainwater to flush toilets in the west wing, more replacement LED lighting, and the installation of a woodchip boiler to provide heat and hot water for the house, using wood harvested sustainably from the vast estate.
Waste-not Winner (sponsored by Biffa) – Dunwich Heath
Celebrating those who recycle or compost more waste than they’re sending to landfill. The team at Dunwich Heath has made significant steps in improving its recycling and composting. Not only do they achieve a recycling rate of over 70%, but all food waste is diverted from landfill, travelling only eight miles up the road to Adnams’ anaerobic digester, which generates biogas for the gas mains. The team has also built a bracken mulcher so they can re-use the cut bracken rather than burn it.
The Acorn Award – Wimpole
Recognising innovation and the work being done to make our land truly sustainable. Wimpole is well known for its sustainable approach, with Head Forester Simon Damant’s unabated enthusiasm leading the way in many areas including: woodland management; the revival and promotion of sustainable, traditional countryside skills and crafts (charcoal making, scything, hedge management, green hay, bodging); tree planting in the park; hedge planting on large arable fields to reduce erosion and provide habitats; flower rich meadows management and for inspiring a great team of countryside volunteers.
Special Achievement Award – North Norfolk Coast team
The Norfolk Coast team has for over a decade championed ways to minimise impact on the natural environment and engaged with young people through the National Trust’s residential learning facility at Brancaster Activity Centre.
The use of renewable systems and features within the learning centre have been a key element of the learning offer for many years. Thousands of children who attended ‘BAC’ on residential school visits have been challenged to think of ways to reduce their impact on the natural environment, recycling, minimising food waste, composting and involvement with energy saving programmes.
An Energy Outreach Project in partnership with Norfolk County Council was successful in delivering the Energy Busters and eFutures programmes to every school in Norfolk between 2005 and 2013. In total, the team worked with 445 schools and by March 2013 had helped Norfolk County Council achieve a placing of 25th out of 2097 organisations within the Carbon Reduction League Table (a reduction in carbon emissions of 24.64%) due to our work with schools. This project enabled schools to achieve sustained energy savings through imbedding new energy efficient behaviours.
Elsewhere, the team has installed an off-grid solar panel system on Blakeney Point which has eliminated the use of a large generator and the transportation and use of 2,500 litres of diesel on this fragile coastal habitat.
So a great evening, highlighting some amazing people and inspiring environmental work. Thanks to our sponsors Good Energy, Anglian Water and Biffa. Photos courtesy of Phil Mynott.