A hallmark of sustainability in the English countryside

Posted in: Clean Technology

Posted on: 31.10.2019

Trafford Hall has sat quietly in rural Cheshire for over 250 years.

The listed property was built as a wealthy country house with 150 acres of woodland, gardens and farmland. The building contains impressive, artistic features such as Venetian windows, a ballroom, and Greek-inspired columns to welcome visitors on arrival.

It’s fair to say the original owner wasn’t too concerned about sustainability, or even what it meant, back in the 1750s. Fast-forward to the 21st century and these concerns are central to how the property is run and maintained. Over the past 10 years, the current occupants have transformed this draughty, old property into a model of low-carbon innovation, while preserving all historic features and adding only environmentally friendly, timber framed bedrooms.

Anne Power, professor of social policy at the London School of Economics, has been involved with Trafford Hall for over 30 years. She is the chair of the National Communities Resource Centre, a charity set up at the Hall in 1991 to address community problems across the UK. From the outset, saving energy and the environment have been key concerns, but it wasn’t until 2009 that the decision was made to become carbon neutral. Since that time, supported by Good Energy, Trafford Hall has reduced its carbon emissions by 50%.

Good Energy inspired us to become carbon neutral. Their commitment to combatting climate change aligns with our values and they helped advise us on what renewable investments to make.

How did they do it?

Top of their list was switching the property to using 100% renewable power from Good Energy, which is “vital if we are serious about averting the climate crisis,” says Anne.

And not just any supplier. Trafford Hall was intent on choosing one which has direct relationships with local renewable generators and doesn’t cut corners.

“We wanted an energy provider which was actually doing something to expand the amount of clean power in the UK. Good Energy have been investing in this market for years and it’s clear they walk the walk. We’ve been very pleased to work with Good Energy,” she adds.

Their own investments in renewable energy played a large part in cutting the Hall’s carbon footprint. They replaced the outdated oil, gas and electric heating supply with a biomass boiler for the whole site. Solar energy is in use, both thermal in the nearby stable, and panels on the roof; no easy task when you have to convince English Heritage.

Energy efficiency was also a crucial, but complicated, route to cutting emissions in the landmark listed building. Secondary glazing is now successfully in place across all 47 windows without replacing a single frame. The 250 year old frames were carefully restored when Trafford Hall was first bought.  Other new features include thermal curtain linings, 12 chimney balloons to stop heat escaping, and draft proofing between ancient floor boards. Shutters were preserved and three porches were added.  

“Good Energy inspired us to fight to become carbon neutral,” says Anne. “Their commitment to combatting climate change aligns with our values and they helped advise us on what renewable investments to make.”

The work doesn’t stop there. Among a long wish list includes installing efficient LED lighting; a biogas plant to turn food waste into energy; and soil nourishment. The grounds are 100% organic. The National Communities Resource Centre also aims to develop an Energy Plus Academy to transform low income communities into energy saving leaders, thus combatting poverty and climate change.

These major upgrades are giving Trafford Hall a new lease of life and set an example to the communities which visit. New spaces, technologies and ideas to learn about where our energy comes from and “the vital need to stop destroying the planet”, in Anne’s words. Good Energy is enabling the Hall is to do just that.

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