In partnership with Ealing Council and the Schools’ Energy Co-operative, Ealing Transition have helped to provide solar panels for two local schools. Members invested through a crowdfunding scheme and will receive a small amount of interest yearly.
Castlebar and Grange were the first schools to benefit, and it is hoped that more will follow in 2018
Councillor Binda Rai, the council’s cabinet member for children and young people, said: “I’m delighted that Castlebar has taken part in this initiative and I am certain other schools will follow. As well as being a greener way to generate energy, it will save the school money by cutting its bills. The panels also provide children with an excellent, hands-on opportunity for learning – with real statistics and information being monitored right inside their school.”
Jo Mortensen, the council’s sustainability manager, said: “The partnership between the council and Ealing Transition to deliver our first community energy project resulted in a big win for the school and the borough. Transition’s grass roots enthusiasm encouraged the council to find suitable schools and get all the paperwork in place to complete the project. Castlebar will save nearly £40,000 over the life of the project and Grange about half of that. Bothshould be protected from increases in electricity prices for 20 years. The students will also benefit from learning about green energy, which will undoubtedly be a big part of their future.”
Sharon Fida, business manager at Catlebar school, said: “We are very pleased and excited to have been given this opportunity to receive solar panels. At Castlebar we take our responsibilities towards ensuring a sustainable and greener future very seriously – and we are confident that the newly installed solar panels will complement our existing efforts towards providing greener energy, reducing energy costs whilst also reducing our carbon footprint.”
Grant Venner of Ealing Transition said: “Ealing Transition initiated this project because we believe that the future of energy is clean, decentralised and generated where it is consumed. Generating our own power makes us more resilient, and also reduces our dependence on fossil fuels, which cause climate change. Also, London has a real problem with air quality, so clean energy is a great way to reduce this.
Members’ Energy Saving Renovations
Much of Ealing’s housing stock is Victorian or Edwardian. Here are some of the ways in which members of Ealing Transition have renovated their houses to conserve energy:
Grant and Trevor have both re-glazed the (north-facing) fronts of their houses. The original glass from 1907 was approx 2mm thick and therefore had a U-value of about 8. Factoring in ill-fitting 100-year-old timber frames meant very high energy loss.
Replacing this with triple glazing has reduced the U-value to about 1, and had an instant effect on the house’s ability to retain heat.
Grant used Henry & Sons http://henryandsons.co.uk/henryandsons
Trevor used Grace Windows http://gracewindows.co.uk/index.html
Another local supplier and supporter of Ealing Transition is Peerless Windows in Northfield Ave http://www.peerlesswindows.co.uk
Transition member David replaced all his original sash windows with identical looking double-glazed wooden sash windows, cutting down drafts enormously. The next project was to insulate his loft, using wool insulation from Black Mountain Insulation (http://www.blackmountaininsulation.com) – chosen because it is natural, uses a resource that would otherwise go to waste, and is nicer to handle than more conventional glass- or rockwool.
David reports that the house felt much warmer as a result. Finally his Schott solar PV panels have been in place for a year and these are performing well.
The Wood family have installed Photovoltaic panels on their south-facing roof. They used Techfor Energy http://www.techforenergy.co.uk who helped them with the technical specification and strengthening supporting rafters. They used 8 Hyundai panels and with a micro inverter on each (more expensive, but longer lasting, than a single inverter). Production is estimated at 1800 kWh per year, and at present the family is making about as much electricity as they are using.
Investing in Green Energy
Due to the unsuitability of his roof for solar panels, Grant has invested directly into Ecotricity via their Ecobonds scheme http://www.ecotricity.co.uk/about-ecotricity/ecobonds
The company is able to pay a better rate of return than the banks because it has cut out the middle men.
Passive House Refurbishment
‘Passive House’ is a highly insulated, draughtproofed housing construction method which reduces the energy consumption of a building by 90% or more. A building is deemed ‘passive’ when little or no ‘active’ inputs are required to keep it warm.
Ealing Transition member Dora and her family have become passive house pioneers by refurbishing their semi-detached house according to passive house principles. This is actually much harder than building a new house from scratch, as existing air gaps and thermal bridges have to be eliminated, and e.g. foundations have to be insulated.
A photo diary of the build is available at https://picasaweb.google.com/112910450826396826156/PassivHausRefurbishment?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCKeGyYG3i6TD4QE&feat=directlink&gsessionid=5lubECatxYESaRLQBUtJTA
More information on this building method can be found on the following blogs:
http://transitionhomes.info is a new and growing resource for energy efficient home refurbishment, including PassivHaus and other techniques.
http://passivhausrefurb.blogspot.com is the story of a refurbishment of a 1970s house
http://www.greenbuildingstore.co.uk/page–passivhaus-diaries.html is the story of a passive house built in the British vernacular (i.e. using cavity wall construction)
Zero Carbon Britain Zero Carbon Britain 2030 was produced by the Centre for Alternative Technology last year and remains a riveting read. You can download it for free at http://www.zerocarbonbritain.com
Open Engineering is the website of Ealing Transition member Donald Power, who has worked in Engineering for over 30 years. The site features a number of thoughtful discussions of the various energy options available to us as the end of cheap oil draws to a close. You can read it at http://www.openengineering.talktalk.net/index.html