Thursday, 21 January 2010

On the road in Devon and Cornwall

Last week Simon, the manager of our UK support programme, spent several days visiting two past Ashden Award winners in Devon and Cornwall. These are just two examples from the Southwest of communities and enterprises tackling environmental and economic challenges with innovative and inspiring solutions. By identifying key areas of need and including their views and experiences into our current research, the aim of this visit was to ensure we continue to build a strong programme of support for our UK award winners.

Kensa Engineering was Simon’s first stop. Kensa Engineering, designs, manufactures, and tests heat pump systems for installation throughout the UK. Most are small-scale ground-source heat pumps (up to 32 kW), which are supplied in kit form so that they can be installed by non-specialist plumbers and builders. Set in an old tin mine, Simon had the chance to visit and view Kensa’s manufacturing process first hand. Kensa’s offices themselves, entirely heated by ground source heating, were an example of how old buildings can be retrofitted to use a more sustainable energy system. Cornwall has a high number of “hard to treat” properties that are either off the grid or have solid walls making them difficult to insulate and heat. Ground source heating has the potential to provide an alternative solution for some of these issues through providing locally sourced energy.

Simon’s second visit was to Community Energy Plus (CEP) . This organisation is tackling the financial challenges of inefficient energy usage. CEP runs the Home Health programme which provides free energy efficiency advice and efficiency measures to communities in deprived areas of Cornwall. This has significant and long-term impacts on households for whom over 10% of their income is spent on fuel, reducing both energy use and fuel poverty.

But this trip wasn’t without its challenges. A snow storm halfway through left Simon stranded for 6 hours through the night! After finally being rescued from a drift of snow Simon continued on his visits- what a trooper!

You can find out more about all of our winners by visiting our website.


Peter Graves said...

What worthy winners both those companies are. I have had experience of CEP and I found them very helpful and informative. The heat pumps I have come across are not Kensa engineering but from a swedish company called Danfoss. They can be seen in operation along with a variety of other eco housing products at Fairglen Eco Homes in Hayle, Cornwall. To see some of their houses which are still available on the market visit houses for sale Cornwall. They are definitely good examples of what we should be striving for in any new homes built.

Ashden Awards said...

Thanks for the comment Peter - It’s great to hear about the good service of our winners first hand!