A royal recruit has marked the successful one-year anniversary for an innovative carbon cutting network that brings together some of Britain’s biggest landowners.
The Fit for the Future Network, which was launched by the National Trust and the sustainable energy charity Ashden in November 2013, now has an international membership of 85 land-owning, charitable and sustainability organisations.
The network provides a model of change – where leading organisations can share and learn practical tools and techniques to help achieve their own cleaner energy targets and together contribute to the UK’s climate change targets (80 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050).
The latest organisation to sign up to the not-for-profit network is the Royal Household, which operates at Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace, Kensington Palace, Windsor Castle, The Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Queen’s Galleries.
Other key organisations that have joined the National Trust and Ashden in the network include the RNLI, Church of England, RSPB, Oxfam, YHA (England and Wales), Northern Rail, the University of Oxford and Trinity College, University of Cambridge. Several local authorities and schools have also signed up.
Together the Network’s member organisations look after 18 world heritage sites and more than 665,000 hectares, which equates to around three per cent of all British land – or roughly the area of Devon.
Sharing and learning best practice
A system has been developed by the Network so that members can share advice and offer feedback on energy saving and generation projects. This is carried out through workshops to evaluate best practice, site visits and regular conversations between members.
Andrew Muskett, Building Projects Officer at Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, said: “After carrying out an energy audit we began to implement ‘quick wins’ – that is to insulate, replace lamps and manage our properties in a more efficient way. Once this was achieved we started to install more sustainable heating systems and solar panels.
“We have put the lessons learned from the Fit for the Future Network into practice and that’s helped us to reduce energy bills and be a more sustainable Authority. The great thing about the network is that you learn about what didn’t go so well, as well as the success stories; by sharing this information it prevents us from making the same mistakes.”
Ideas for cleaner energy generation
National Trust’s award winning marine source heat pump scheme, which heats the 18th century Plas Newydd mansion on Anglesey, has also provided a learning resource for network members. The conservation charity built the 300kW scheme as part of its Renewable Energy Investment Programme, after sharing knowledge with the RNLI on its existing water source heat pump at the Lizard Lifeboat Station in Cornwall. Now the Trust is helping to inform and support similar future projects planned by Ullapool Harbour Trust and Historic Scotland.
Helen Ghosh, Director-General of the National Trust, said: “To look after the landscapes, wildlife and heritage we love as a nation, we need to do everything we can to reduce carbon emissions. When you see years of coastal erosion take place in a matter of months and are battling the destruction of flooding, new pests and diseases on our natural and historic heritage, you have to be concerned about climate change and its effects.
“The Fit for the Future Network provides a real opportunity to harness the power of many for the benefit of our landscape. It helps the National Trust and other organisations share innovative solutions and work together to achieve greater things. By sharing our learning and expertise, we can also spend less, which means more money for each of our charitable objectives.”
Ashden Founder Director, Sarah Butler-Sloss, said: “At Ashden we’ve learned that peer-to-peer learning is invaluable in spreading best practice in saving energy, cutting fuel bills and reducing carbon emissions, and the rapid growth of the Network demonstrates that many others feel the same. The fact that such a diverse range of organisations is now on-board gives us renewed hope that heritage buildings can dramatically reduce their carbon emissions.”
While it has made great strides in its first year with funding from the National Trust and Ashden, the Network’s fast-growing appeal means further external funding is needed to ensure it can continue to thrive.
To find out more about the Fit for the Future Network or to get in touch, visit www.fftf.org.uk