Five years ago the World of Beatrix Potter tourist attraction got in touch with ENWORKS advisers based at theCumbria Business Environment Network (CBEN), which is part of the Cumbria Rural Enterprise Agency (CREA).
Since then a series of efficiency initiatives have been put in place to minimise energy and water consumption and waste to landfill rates, saving nearly 20 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) a year in the process.
Under the leadership of operations manager, Matt Chubb, several parts of the Old Laundry building, including the tearooms area, have had LED lights fitted to reduce electricity consumption.
Motion sensors and timers have also been fitted in the toilets and on signage outside, to make sure that the lights are only on when they are needed.
So far this has cost £500 but the annual savings are £1,620, together with eight tonnes of CO2e.
Elsewhere, mains water consumption has been reduced by 390 m3 per year, saving £970 on annual water bills.
This was achieved by fitting dual-flush toilet cisterns and urinal flush controls in the washrooms, and out in the kitchen garden that supplies the tearooms, rainwater is now collected in a butt to use for irrigation.
The washroom fittings cost £100 to install but they paid back within a couple of years.
The attraction has also been helped with its waste management policies. For example, cardboard boxes that arrive in the form of goods packaging are now flattened, stored and re-used by the mail-order side of the business, for dispatching giftware to customers.
It amounts to about 200kg of cardboard per week at peak times, so the business is saving up to £600 a year on the cost of ordering new boxes. The system also keeps about six tonnes of cardboard out of landfill each year.
Meanwhile, the attraction is doing its best to educate visitors on sustainability issues. For example, it promotes an understanding and appreciation of biodiversity through its Mr McGregor’s Garden replica and the kitchen garden, and it has also been awarded a Butterfly Conservation Certificate for its planting and gardening approach, which helps to attract lots of butterflies.
The gardener, Kate Jackson, has built up strong links with a local primary school, to get children involved in gardening projects, and all her surplus produce is now used by the school catering team.
The annual savings that have been achieved have accumulated, year on year, so that the overall savings are £36,500 to date.
Mr Chubb said: “Over recent years, we’ve been able to make some big savings with relatively small investments of capital, or as part of our continued maintenance and development of the facilities.
“Our ENWORKS adviser has helped us to prioritise, improve our management of resources and, in some cases, the resulting savings have paid for other investments. That’s been invaluable.”
Mr Chubb has a five-year plan for driving further resource efficiencies in the future, including a project to replace the existing visual display units (VDUs) and exhibition devices with more energy efficient alternatives.
The business also plans to invest in more LED lighting for the exhibition areas and theatre building, and could potentially use voltage optimisation technology to ensure that the new exhibition equipment runs at an optimal level, once it is installed.
Other ideas include improved roof insulation, reduced water pressure in the taps, and solar panels on the roof.
Altogether, the attraction could save another £6,400 on annual utility bills.
Dave Harris-Jones, adviser to the World of Beatrix Potter Attraction, said: “The challenge now is for the team to continue to make savings, when they’ve already picked most of the ‘low-hanging fruit’.
“But their efforts so far and the overall ethos of the business suggest that they’ll find ways of continuing to reduce their environmental impact.”
Case study published 18 April 2013.