White Design Associates Ltd were the architects behind the building, and a group of young people worked alongside the design and construction teams, informing the decision making process throughout. The building is a straw-bale build, designed with environmental sustainability at its heart.
We have leased our roof to the Bristol Energy Co-op who have installed 104 x 240 Watt Innotech panels and four inverters. The 25kW solar PV array was installed in July 2012. We are also participating in a battery storage and DC system trial, with Western Power Distribution, which supplies energy to power the lights in our Training Room and charging points in the kit store. Its main purpose is to provide additional power during local surges in demand.
This has reduced our mains electricity cost by 25% and the panels generate approximately 40% of what we used to use before we had them. The difference is what we export to the National Grid. The remainder of our mains electricity is purchased from renewable source, from Biomass.
We take weekly meter readings to monitor our power generation and usage and we are also able to monitor our solar panel energy production on the Solar Web website. Live data from this website links to a screen behind our reception desk, to show how much power we generate every day to all visitors and staff. At KWMC we often commission artists to help people to make sense of data through creative visualisations. The visualisation below was created by Dane Watkins and it illustrates what we could power with the electricity we’ve generated, from a dishwasher to a number of homes.
The Biomass boiler was installed when the building was first built and is our primary source of heat with the gas boiler acting as back up.
We have a rainwater harvesting system in place, which has been shown to reduce our water consumption by a third, but this system is currently awaiting repair.
As a values-driven organisation, our team are committed to reducing our environmental impact and every member of staff is involved in the KWMC environmental action plan. This includes targets ranging from reducing our use of paper and increasing the use of our electric car for meetings off site, to holding meetings and lunches at cafes that use locally sourced food.