Yesterday we welcomed the NT Trustees and Executive Team to Ickworth in Suffolk and invited them to go behind the scenes to discover more about the basics of running a large estate. A bit of a ‘show and tell’ about oil use, water and sewage management, and the potential for biomass heating. As you’d expect there were plenty of good questions – all very constructive and supportive stuff.
Ickworth is one of the national renewables investment programme’s pilot projects, designed to provide Ickworth House with a biomass heating system – most likely fuelled by woodchip, sourced from a sustainable yield of 250 tonnes/year from its 1800 acre estate.
But to size a biomass boiler and system properly, you need to start with understanding the energy consumption and address efficiency. The property spends over £86K a year on heat and power (793 mWh), £26K alone on filling one massive oil tank. You’d need 469 NT memberships to cover that cost alone each year. It’s made some great strides in reducing its energy use – oil consumption dropped by a quarter last year despite the colder than average weather. How? Property commitment, combined with some investment in simple measures – nothing particularly sexy – a combination of improving the building management system and training so that people know how to use it, and insulating the iconic Rotunda roof.
We took some before and after thermal images. The actual colours are not so important as the external temperature was different, but the relativity is the thing. The contrasting colour in the ‘after’ pic is the uninsulated glass ‘lamp’ at the centre of the dome. Staff and volunteers say they are more comfortable too.