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After receiving some fascinating entries from hotels and B&B’s throughout the UK, big and small, we have finally managed to decide on a winner: Beechenhill Farm B&B in the Peak District, Staffordshire. Beechenhill Farm stood out for their innovation, particularly when it comes to using their sustainable practices to educate others and spread the word around the wider community.
Ever since 2009 Beechenhill’s Pilot Light Project; ‘the greening of farm tourism in a protected landscape, a demonstration project’, has been instrumental in reducing their environmental impact, continuing innovation and offering a distinctive experience to visitors.
‘The National Park landscape is key to Beechenhill’s success as a tourism business and so the purpose of the Pilot Light Project started in 2009 was to explore innovative, practical and appropriate ways to address rural resource efficiency, climate change, and economic pressures and reduce the carbon footprint of a farm tourism business, whilst protecting the landscape.’ says Sue Prince, owner of Beechenhill.
But the project hasn’t stopped there. A key part of the scheme was to use the range of technologies used at Beechenhill to demonstrate to influences, planners, small business and individuals that ‘if Beechenhill can do it, then you can too’. During this process Beechenhill has been careful to demonstrate that being climate sensitive doesn’t mean being ‘worthy or preachy’ but makes economic sense and creates a better guest experience.
Since the start of the Pilot Light Project in 2009, the farm’s carbon footprint has reduced from 41 tonnes to 14.4 tonnes despite the addition of the wedding venue and an additional dwelling. This is mainly down to the installation of a wood pellet boiler and mini district main that have contributed to a reduction of 19 tonnes.
On finding out about the award Sue Prince comments,
I am amazed and honoured to have won the Green Hotelier Competition. It’s fantastic to have been chosen by such a prestigious organisation. It gives us the confidence to keep doing what we are doing, and redouble our efforts. We in the hospitality business have the best opportunity to share a good way of living and demonstrate that looking after the planet makes a better experience for us all, particularly when on holiday!
We’re looking forward to finding out how their aims for 2013 develop, including offering an annual prize for the greenest wedding on site, integrating a more sophisticated rain water harvesting system and building a small scale bio-digester to turn cow manure into methane.
However, from the number of entries we received it is clear that innovation in the sustainable hotel industry in the UK doesn’t stop there. Submissions from all types of accommodation owners demonstrated a huge level of commitment and dedication in offering genuinely sustainable and responsible accommodation.
A special mention must go to our top runners up:
Bryn Elltyd Eco Guesthouse, Snowdonia, Wales
What stands out about Bryn Elltyd is its owners’, John and Celia Whitehead’s, incredible enthusiasm and commitment to the eco cause. With only 6 rooms the property is small in turnover and size but big on sustainability. John and Celia have renovated the 19th Century building to reduce outside walls and capture passive heating. In renovating out-buildings they ensured that demolished materials were reused and where new materials were needed, free-cycle was the first port of call. A recent £20,000 investment in a Biomass Okofen pellet boiler project has made the property’s carbon neutral heating system even more efficient – using 4 tonnes of pellets per year rather than 17 tonnes.
Green House Hotel, Bournemouth, England
The Green House Hotel has left very few leaves unturned when it comes to eco credentials. During a huge renovation, this Victorian property managed to combine its listed status with energy efficiency through the use of cavity walls, insulation and intelligent lighting systems. Every item of furniture and decor from the reception desk to the hairdryers and bathroom tiles is responsibly sourced and the kitchen and bar boast products sourced from a 50 mile radius. A recent installation of Beersave audio beer line maintenance technology means that lines need to be cleaned every 6 weeks, rather than every week, saving beer, water and time. The hotel is also gaining momentum in educating others about sustainability and is very active in the local green community.
Glenuig Inn, Sound of Arisaig, Scotland
During an impressive renovation project this 18th Century inn was made more energy efficient by being wrapped in wood fibre, breathable insulation and a lime based render. By reducing heat demands and installing sustainable heat solutions including a wood burner and solar thermal system, the old inn is heated by 100% renewable energy. An excellent case study of why sustainability makes business sense, despite turnover doubling, Glenuig’s energy costs are now less than what they were three years ago. Reduced energy costs mean that the inn can stay open in winter months, whilst most local businesses are forced to close. In 2009 the carbon of each guest per night was 44kg, which is now down to an impressive 4.7kg. We’re looking forward to hearing about how the installation of the new pellet boiler goes, making the business 100% renewable.
Also of note from our entries were two Jury’s Inn properties, which are making good headway into some hefty sustainability aims. Jury’s Inn Brighton have forged some excellent links with local charities and have put a lot of effort into training staff through sustainability modules in their new GROW online training tool. Meanwhile, Jury’s Inn Glasgow only uses rated appliances alongside installing aerators on showers, flow restrictors on taps and ensuring boilers run at maximum efficiency.
Itteringham Mill has made impressive use of its geographical situation with self-generated electricity from the mill’s hydro-turbine being used to run a heat pump rather than an oil boiler, saving approximately 24 tonnes of CO2 per annum. We also loved hearing about Newlands Adventure Centre’s waste reduction policy, saving three tonnes of waste every year and their training of minibus drivers to promote fuel efficient driving.
Pendragon Country House has also been focusing its efforts on training staff to become more sustainable. Their ‘consume when the sun shines and conserve when it doesn’t’ motto makes the most of their solar thermal hot water system. In Nottingham The Orchard Hotel has been awarded a BREEAM rating of excellent for its sustainable design, which is projected to reduce carbon emissions by 22.26%.
Watch this space for more detailed case studies on some of the above over the next few months. In the mean time though, a huge congratulations to everyone who entered for their own sustainability achievements – keep up the good work and we’re looking forward to hearing from you all in future competitions.