Thursday, 21 November 2013

Borough a winner in LESS Energy Awards

The Borough Pub
An old post office, a pub, a converted Mill, a park home, an apartment block and a Victorian family home all featured in the first LESS Energy Awards announced this week.

The LESS Energy Awards are being run by LESS (www.lessuk.org) in conjunction with Lancaster University's ‘Current’ project (http://current.lancs.ac.uk/). Lancaster University is a world leader in research into how households and organisations can save energy.

Award-Winners Hannah and Martin Horne, landlords at The Borough pub in Dalton Square, Lancaster, say the trick is to just get started on something, however small. Their realisation that they were throwing away lots of mineral water bottles led to them filtering and bottling their own water on site. Now they have solar thermal panels, recycle everything from napkins to chip fat oil, use local food and have got rid of energy guzzling light bulbs. “It makes good economic sense and it makes you feel good as well,” says Hannah.

Simon Gershon, whose company Green Door Lets won Greenest Landlord, believes in the importance of doing up old houses to provide modern comforts. “The average age of the UK’s housing stock is 80 years," he said. "So it makes sense from a carbon as well as comfort point of view to do them up. If you are renovating a property anyway it doesn’t cost much more. You then have a property that will give you much less trouble and happier tenants.”

Simon is currently renovating a 125 year old former post office in West Road, Lancaster, insulating the walls and roof, double glazing the old sash windows and installing rainwater harvesting, solar thermal panels and an energy efficient boiler.

Halton Mill, a refurbished engineering works, gained the top rating for its energy performance for its combination of energy saving refurbishment and renewable energy generation. “All our tenants love the fact that they can say they are based in a low carbon workspace,” said Dr Fiona Frank, director of Green Elephant which manages Halton Mill. “It makes a difference in today’s business environment.”

Steve Clarke spent years “nagging” the management committee of Cedar Manor, his apartment block, to do something about the lights in the communal areas which were on 24/7. “I’m a war baby and I can’t bear waste,” Steve said.

Tabby Middleton always wanted to insulate her Victorian Lancaster home to reduce her family’s carbon footprint for future generations. Now the family is feeling the benefits. Her oldest son’s asthma has improved dramatically and, by late October, she still hadn’t put the heating on.

Ronald Smith had one of the biggest challenges - to improve the energy efficiency of his park home. A combination of external and under floor insulation and double glazing has made it much more comfortable and cheaper to keep warm.

The award-winners all agreed that saving money was only part of the reward for improving the energy of efficiency of their home or business, and that feeling warmer, and good about themselves, were even more important.

“These are inspiring examples of what can be done to save energy and live more sustainably.” said Kevin Frea, Director of LESS. “We hope these stories will be an inspiration to others to make their homes and businesses warmer, more energy efficient and sustainable.”

Short films have been made of each of the winners by Forgebank Films. The films will be shown at a celebration meal and awards ceremony held at Halton Mill on 27 November.
Free tickets are still available at www.lessenergy.org.uk.

LESS is a Community Interest Company set up to promote sustainable living. It currently runs projects in the areas of energy and local food growing and offers free advice on energy saving.  More information is available at www.lessuk.org or by contacting Kevin Frea on 07716 246672.

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