Given it’s proud role as the protector and preserver, as it were of our green and pleasant land, it is only natural that the National Trust would focus on researching and installing the very best renewable energy systems throughout its property portfolio and indeed they envisage generating half of their power needs from renewable sources by 2020.
Under the new plan the Trust’s main green sources will be biomass, heat pumps, hydro and solar. Energy consumption will be reduced by 20%.
A notable tangible example of this praiseworthy scheme is Morden Hall Park in south-west London which already features an eclectic combination of renewable technology including the thermal HEATBANK® , a wood-fired boiler, three different types of solar panels and probably the UK’s most energy - efficient historic building , the Stable Yard. And to add to this display is a new - or old if you wish - Archimedes Screw which calmly generates power for the vistor centre by churning the water of the River Wandle.
The co-ordinating element of the renewables input was Thermal Integration Limited – whose range is distributed by Specflue which itself has developed over 30 years in to an all embracing company spanning tradtional products through to the very latest concepts and training facilities. The project was guided by Richard Hanson-Graville of Thermal Integration who observes "As you would expect there were a number of high end companies and frankly new mindsets involved in the redevelopment of the Stable Yard. The opening act if you like involved one of our team being able to demonstrate to the Trust’s building surveyor a permutation of HEATBANK® – being our own core product - wood burner and solar panels actually installed in her own home. From an exciting and educational point the project gathered its own momentum and we maintained ongoing communication with architects, low carbon consultants, the lead construction partner and providers of underfloor heating, wood burners and heat pumps whilst always aware of the needs of DEFRA and health & safety requirements. It has been a proud and stimulating project and could be said to be the shape of things to come”.
On a layman’s technical note the layout of the system revolving around Specflue’s pioneering thermal HEATBANK® makes fascinating reading. The two 475 litre tanks are fed depending on weather conditions and the time of year by a permutation of solar panels, wood burner and a heat pump in tandem with an unvented hot water cylinder which pre-heats incoming cold water using the solar panels before sending it to the two “banks”. This provides continual inexpensive heat for the underfloor heating and the taps. In short it amounts to a battery for storing renewable heat (from the sun or from burning wood) when it is available for use when it is needed, topping up as required (with a heat pump). The banks and cylinder are neatly tucked away adjacent to the splendid renewables showroom which attracts a steady flow of adults and school parties eager to absorb the knowledge which is complemented by information displays around the park which welcomes a staggering 750,000 visitors a year. Visitors enjoy everything from open air theatre, the varied wildlife, a garden centre and of course the famous National trust tea room.
Maureen Patel of the National Trust at Morden Hall is very proud of her enhanced domain “ The Stable Yard used just to be the storage area for our equipment and machinery. Now it has been transformed and we have restored the sensitivity of the area whilst also generating our own power and becoming self sustaining in our own right. We are very conscious of our public role with initiatives such as the Taster Days for renewable energy and checks by the Environment Agency to ensure everything is being run carefully and properly. We also have a steady flow of senior visitors from the head office. The installation went very well in variable weather conditions and the system pretty well runs itself especially as we have so much here in the way of natural sources which cost us nothing”.
By way of notable conclusion the quality and dignity of the Morden Hall facility are underwritten by its selection as the UK’s nomination within the Case studies for inspiration in the European Union’s Living Green partnership focused on North Western Europe and dedicated to sustainable renovation of older buildings.