School Farm Cottages are self-catering cottages, located in the unspoiled Suffolk countryside. Each cottage is centrally heated by the site’s biomass boiler. The cottages also benefit from renewable electricity through a 16 panel (4kWp) solar PV array. Two of the cottages have been awarded Level 1 Mobility under the ETC National Accessible Standard.
A former farm workshop has been converted into a space that is used primarily as a games room for guests, but is also hired out as a conference room or meeting space.
Managing our impacts
School Farm Cottages has been working to improve the efficiency and reduce the environmental impacts of the cottages for several years and in this time, we have implemented several measures:
• The cottages (and the farm house) have their heating and hot water provided by a woodchip biomass boiler; they used to be heated with oil. Woodchip is sourced from sustainably managed local woodland in line with Forestry Commission / Woodfuel East guidelines as well as the farm itself. This reduces carbon emissions by 94% compared to oil fired heating.
• A 16 panel (4 kWp) solar PV array provides renewable electricity to the cottages and farm house.
• The majority of the lighting has been upgraded to low energy (LED) lamps, with a programme in place to replace the remainder during the coming year.
• The windows are all double glazed
• Whenever practical, bed linen and towels are dried on the line outside, rather than in the tumble dryer
• Thermal imagery of the buildings has been obtained for the purposes of ensuring thermal efficiency
• Communication is made with guests to encourage low impact behaviour and activities including recycling, local farmers’ markets, events, walks and cycling routes amongst other practices
• Cycle storage is available together with maps, leaflets and other local information
• Produce from the farm and neighbouring farms is available to purchase and other goods made available to guests are purchased locally as listed on our Sustainable Procurement Policy.
• All cottages are equipped with environmentally friendly toiletries and cleaning products.
• The farm itself is managed for wildlife through hedgerow conservation and the majority of grassland is a grass / clover mix which receives no artificial fertiliser (as the clover fixes atmospheric nitrogen).
Our Carbon Footprint
In 2013, School Farm Cottages calculated its carbon footprint - we considered the environmental impact of wood chip consumption, business mileage, electricity consumption, water use, waste disposal and procurement. It was estimated that this resource consumption and waste generation (and associated residual emissions) from 2012/2013 was responsible for the emission of 19.2tCO2e. Our carbon footprint was recalculated for 2014/2015 using the same parameters and was found to be 16.4tCO2e. This is a reduction of 14.7%
We recognise that there are more measures that we can take to reduce our environmental impact further, and we have developed a detailed action plan to ensure that they are taken forward. By January 2018, we will:
• Use a resource monitoring spreadsheet to monitor our resource consumption and seek opportunities for further reductions
• Upgrade the remaining third of lighting to LED lamps
• Reassess the costs of filling the games room cavity wall and implement if financially viable
• Reassess the costs of sub-metering and implement if financially viable
• Develop the website to include more information about the business’ environmental commitments and achievements.
• Continue to promote local produce during events held at the cottages (e.g. wedding receptions)
We will also be looking for support from our suppliers and contractors in our commitment to continual environmental improvement. We will continue to assess the sustainability of products that we buy and carry out further research into whether better alternatives exist.
It is anticipated that the adoption of this environmental policy and the implementation of the associated action plan will result in reductions in consumption, which will allow us to grow our business sustainably. It is expected that opportunities exist to:
• Reduce our woodchip consumption by 5%
• Reduce our electricity consumption by 10%
Monitoring our progress
To understand and quantify our progress against the above targets, we will be closely monitoring our energy and resource consumption by taking regular meter readings and increasing the amount of evaluation that we do. We will update this document and the associated action plan annually, or if our business changes its activities significantly.