We are renovating the Centre in an environmentally friendly manner, using recycled, local resources as much as possible. Doing the work ourselves, with the help of volunteers, keeps our costs down, as well as a chance for us to learn some new DIY skills!
1. Insulation - eco-insulation is very expensive , so we just used local sheeps wool in our roof space - tons of it! To insulate the walls, a product called Sempatap, is being used. This is a roll of 10mm insulating material that you stick on your walls with an adhesive, just like wallpaper. Draughty doors have been sealed with cheap draughtproofing, and windows have secondary glazing, which are sheets of perspex fixed on to window with magnetic strips.
2.Heating - We have recently invested in a super-efficient wood - boiler, called a log gasification boiler, which will heat the old central heating system and water. It is in the process of being installed in the cellar. So looking forward to next winter, when we dont have to wear 5 layers of clothes to keep warm!
3. Wood for building - This has been a long term project which is finally coming to fruition this year. 3 years ago we bought a woodmizer (a portable wood saw machine) with a view to have a local, sustainable supply of wood. Last year we cut up loads of old tree trunks into planks, which have been drying out over the last 12 months. This year we have finally been able to use the wood and it is being cut up for skirting boards, door frames, fire surrounds etc.
4. Renewable energy - The Centre has 4 mini-renewable energy systems, all of which can be installed by homeowners:
1. Solar electric panels, which provide 1/2 kilowatt (enough for lights, computers and a small fridge). These are on a tracker system, which lets them move around with the sun, gaining maximum sunlight.
2. Solar water heaters – these home made panels provide a hot water supply for 7-9 months of the year. There is also a demo panel, that you can feel hot water from, and this will be part of a bigger display planned for the summer.
3. Micro hydro – the hydro provides 1.5 kilowatts and together with the solar panels, they provide most of our energy needs.
4. Passive solar heating- solar heated greenhouses bring heat into the building, as well as providing a food growing space nearby.