More detail below about how we have worked and are working towards being a greener community centre.
1. Audit survey
Initially trustees needed to know the construction of the building and the type of installed fittings and services, so that we could make comparisons to select the appropriate improvements required. This involved carrying out an audit survey to discover:
a) Energy heat loss through the fabric of the building
b) Electrical energy used by all appliances and fittings
c) Water consumption used by plumbing appliances and fittings
d) The efficiency of the existing heating system.
It has been particularly useful that two of our trustees who act(ed) as Chair of the committee had engineering and building construction experience in their working lives.
2. Setting priorities
Our priorities were selecting the most appropriate upgrade to benefit the community centre and deciding the order in which to implement it.
(1) We realised that it was pointless to upgrade the heating system if all the heat was escaping from walls/floors/roof/windows. The greatest heat loss was through these areas (as expected).
(2) Windows and doors were our highest priority for energy saving (and security). They were selected to be replaced/upgraded first (building work started in 2014).
(3) The ceilings were next for upgrade (as originally they were over 6m high). Upgrades were made by installing suspended grid-tile systems to lower them and reduce heat loss.
(4) North facing walls were next to have insulating upgrades, with new internal 50mm insulating thermal boards added before plastering.
3. Plan of utility developments
Based on the audit survey, we created an electrical and water services development plan.
In principle, upgrading unit fittings and equipment was achieved in relation to their specific consumption of:
i) Electrical energy (in watts per kilowatt hour)
ii) Water use (in relation to litres per minute)
Any fitting which we identified (as not currently matching the best available energy saving standard) was considered for an upgrade based on:
a) When they became faulty
b) Grants being available to bid for (to reduce our capital outlay)
c) Spending our own capital on upgrading, so each specific area could be upgraded in one go.
4. Energy Saving Planning
4. Energy Saving Planning
We decided to: replace faulty equipment with the most energy efficient fitting or equipment available;
We sought grant providers and set up a programme of building development. This meant:
a) Replacing external timber doors and windows with double glazed uPVC frames.
b) Upgrading the building – firstly the halls then W.C.s and kitchens.
c) For the halls, this stage involved constructing insulated internal walls and suspended grid ceilings to reduce heat loss.
d) For the lighting: all new light fittings installed were the latest LED technology – in order to reduce running costs
e) For the lighting controls – areas of hall lighting were split into three separate sections (each part with on/off switches) – to ensure it was easy to switch on/off . f) Lighting controls – in all W.C.s PIR controls with movement sensors (including maximum-on-time) were installed.
g) In other areas, time lag switches were installed to provide 20 minutes of illumination. Microwave technology style LED light fittings were installed – which are ideal for passages, lobbies and W.C. toilet cubicle areas.
h) 2 litre Dual Flush W.C. cisterns were installed in all toilets.
i) All tap outlets in W.C.s were installed as 5 litres per minute with aerated flow reducer filters. Both (h) and (i) reduce water wastage.
j) Hot Water heaters were updated to point-of-use mains pressure 15 litre or 10 litre electric storage units (rated 2 or 3Kilowatt). Additionally because of this change it became easier to meet Legionella requirements.
5. Energy saving Programme
- Spending our own capital may or may not be economic in the short term but it will be energy saving and hopefully cost effective in the longer term.
- In 2016, we had two arrays of solar panels installed on the East and West facing roofs at a cost of £6,000.
- Although Grant Export payments were higher in the early days of the solar programme, we decided to have panels installed at the figures that were available in 2016.
- One definable saving is the carbon footprint for our installation which rates at about 3 tons per annum
- The feed-in tariff generates approximately £800 per annum depending on sunlight. Including the reduction in daily electricity bills by 2023 we hope to be profiting from the expenditure.
6. Utility monitoring
- Without regular monitoring of our energy use we wouldn’t have the knowledge of the centre’s consumption of electricity, gas and water.
- We take monthly readings of all electricity, gas and water meters plus solar panels.
- We produce graphs of usage for trustees and our Centre Manger(s) to identify any areas of concern.
- For gas usage there are timing controls, which are set from a computer controlled app. This is managed when user groups are in attendance at the centre. Although it provides greater control the system it isn’t entirely efficient as sometimes groups arrive later or leave before their allotted times without informing the centre.
- Monitoring water consumption means that if there is a higher than normal level of use, it usually means that a tap has been left running, a W.C. flush button has become jammed on or there is an undiscovered leak.
- Our monitoring of electricity usage is similar. Plus we have ‘switch off’ notices and lighting controls etc for all our users.
- Electricity usage: the change to point-of-use electric storage water heaters in all locations has proved to be more efficient (as indicated by the actual saving shown on graphs).
- We ensure that our employees are trained and aware of the importance of efficient energy usage which has a large impact on reducing unnecessary wastage of all resources.
- Keeping the user groups, who attend the centre, informed has also been a contributing factor.
- Other energy saving controls are more directly cost related such as utility charges. The Trustees Executive group meet annually to review and the Treasurer monitors energy price changes to ensure the Association gets the best possible utility deal.
During Covid it became essential that halls were well ventilated. The previous system with key operated window openings was inefficient. To make it quick and easy for user group leaders to open windows we installed automatic window ventilation systems in the halls. This was a successful venture. Also before groups left the centre it was equally as easy for them to ensure that all windows were closed and locked by simply pressing a switch. Building in security is also an important aspect of protecting our investment in green technologies.