Feasibility studies for the Community Sustainable Energy Programme

Assessing the potential for low-carbon measures in community buildings

Project duration: February 2009 to April 2009

The Community Sustainable Energy Programme (CSEP) was an open grants programme (now closed to new applicants) funded by the Big Lottery Fund and administered by BRE.

The programme aimed to increase the uptake of community-scale microgeneration installations by offering grants to not-for-profit community-based organisations such as schools or colleges, registered charities and trusts, parish councils, and faith groups. It funded technologies such as solar (PV or hot water), wind turbines, heat pumps, biomass boilers and certain energy efficiency measures (e.g. cavity wall insulation).

Two kinds of grant were available. Firstly, there was a £1million pot for ‘project development grants’ – studies investigating the feasibility of installing one or more low-carbon technologies. The maximum grant available was £5,000 or 75 per cent of the study cost – whichever is lower.

The second ‘capital’ grant is for the purchase and installation of the technology and energy efficiency measures. Some £8 million was available, and organisations could claim up to £50,000 or 50 per cent of the project cost – whichever is lower.

CSE was one of a number of Project Development Consultants for the programme. We were selected for the programme because of our expertise and experience in assessing the suitability (or otherwise) of various renewable energy options and other energy efficient measures for buildings, particularly those used by communities of all kinds. As a registered consultant for the programme we undertook feasibility studies for many groups seeking to apply for grants.

Steve Andrews was the technical project worker at CSE assigned to this project and describes some of the sites that he visitied.

Goring Almshouses
“These lovely old buildings are Grade I listed and date from 1724. They include 12 apartments for retired (or-soon-to-be retired) local people, a chapel, a small hospital building, a school (now converted to flats), and a recently built community building, all set within some 25 acres, most of which is woodland. Our assessment revealed that the energy efficiency of the building should be increased as much as is possible – not always easy in buildings of this vintage.

“The almshouses’ trustees are very keen on renewable energy and we were able to recommend a combination of a biomass heating system (making use of the supply of wood on the doorstep), solar water heating and a small wind turbine – which will be able to provide a small income once the new feed-in-tariffs start in 2010.”

Roadwater Village Hall
“This building – solid walled and within Exmoor National Park – presented considerable challenges from a low-carbon point of view. It’s well used in summer, but not so much in winter when it becomes quite cold and uncomfortable.

“Further energy efficiency measures including internal wall insulation would help. The hall’s managing committee was interested in the possibility of generating electricity from the river that runs close by, but this has neither sufficient flow nor ‘head’ to be viable. Solar options are limited by the very small section of south-facing roof. Instead, we recommended a log-fired boiler and central heating system using wood from a nearby woodland that belonging to the village hall trust.”

Spaniorum Hill scout facility
“This was an unusual feasibility study, chiefly because there was no building to assess, but large amounts of building materials instead! These included thousands of concrete blocks and dozens of roof trusses, along with doors, windows, flooring and timber. We had the opportunity to work with the scout group to ensure that the building that will eventually be constructed on this exposed site to the north of Bristol met the highest standards of energy efficiency.

“As far as renewables are concerned the best option was wind, and following an assessment of the potential wind resource, we were able to recommend a 15kW turbine. The scout group has subsequently applied successfully for a capital grant for this.”

For further information contact:

Martin Holley | 0117 934 1419

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