Saving money and the environment
In addition to the benefits to the climate, the move could also help us dramatically reduce the amount we spend on fuel - we currently spend around £6 million each year on power and heating for our buildings.
Meeting the target
The target will be met by reducing energy use for electricity and heating by 20 per cent and introducing ‘grow your own’ micro and small scale energy schemes using wood fuel, solar, heat pumps, hydro and wind.
The initiative will involve our entire in-hand building stock, which includes 300 major historic houses, office buildings, visitor centres and 360 holiday cottages.
We also plan to install more than 50 new wood fuel boilers into our mansions and larger buildings over the next five years. The fuel will be sourced either from our own estates or from local suppliers, with replanting and maintenance benefiting woodland and wildlife habitats. All will be consistent with our high aesthetic and conservation standards.
We anticipate that most of the schemes will break-even within the next 10 years, even allowing for the huge variability in the price of energy and uncertainty over the future of grants and subsidies. Our reduction in the use of mains electricity, gas, oil and LPG will be equivalent to removing 4,500 family cars from the road.
'Grow your own' energy projects
As an organisation we already have more than 140 renewable energy systems in operation on sites across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with an installed capacity of 2.3 MW heating and over 1 MW of electricity generation.
Our ‘grow your own’ energy projects include solar panels on the roof of Grade I listed Dunster Castle in Somerset (funded by Barclays), Scotney Castle in Kent (funded by the Big Lottery Fund Bio-Energy Capital Grants Scheme) and the wind turbine at Middlehouse Farm in Malham (funded by the Rural Development Programme).
We hope to contribute to the transition to more sustainable forms of energy generation by sharing experiences in growing your own energy with our 3.8 million members, 15 million visitors, local communities, policy makers and industry, and where possible, exporting electricity to other users.
Jonathon Porritt, Founder Director of Forum for the Future and former Chair of the UK Sustainable Development Commission, has warmly welcomed this 50 per cent commitment:
'This is exactly the kind of ambition level we need to help us navigate our way towards a low-carbon society.’