The halls are well used for both church organisations and outside agency activities. Typical weekly usage includes a mother and toddler group, uniformed organisations, local lyric group and dog obedience training. There is a monthly ploughman’s lunch and occasional coffee mornings and concerts, etc.
One of the church elders has a particular interest in all matters green and he raised the possibility of pursuing available financial help to upgrade what is a comparatively old suite of halls which were decidedly draughty and wasteful of energy. He obtained the permission of the Congregational Board to investigate the costs involved and any potential grants. A feasibility study was carried out in the summer of 2010. With BeGreen’s assistance a grant was obtained through Community Energy Scotland to cover the £1,500 cost involved.
The energy supply options explored were renewable energy possibilities and energy efficiency improvements. Of the options suggested the following were pursued. 1. A solar voltaic array on a south facing roof slope. 2. Insulation to loft spaces. 3. Overhaul existing windows and provide secondary glazing to virtually all windows. 4. Comprehensively upgrade lighting installation. It was also suggested that draught proofing be carried out on external doors. However given that the internal front double doors which swung in and out tended to stick in the open position (creating probably the worst heat loss) we decided to replace them with a more user friendly and draught proof electrically and/or hand operated with push buttons for wheelchair users and others.
The overall costs were estimated to be around £34,000 and grants were sought from and promised by BeGreen Dunbar and Viridor (by way of Future Balance). BeGreen’s assistance in this area was much appreciated. The eventual final cost was £33,859.40 of which £11,000 was funded by BeGreen / Community Windpower Ltd and the balance by Viridor Credits Scotland / Future Balance.
It was realised that before the solar array could be undertaken planning permission and building warrant were required. These were obtained with the expeditious assistance of a local architectural practice. Competitive tenders were sought from local contractors where the required expertise was available and work commenced in October 2011 and was completed by the end of November apart from the electronically operated inner front door. The door was delayed due to consultation as to what would be the most practical solution given that the fire officer required it not to open inwards so there was the potential for a clash with the outer front doors which open inwards. Once a satisfactory outcome was reached the door had to be manufactured prior to its installation which took place towards the end of February 2012.
The outcome of all the work involved is a much more comfortable, well lit suite of halls which it is anticipated will be far more economical to run, using less gas and electricity with savings of in excess of £500 per year being anticipated as well as an income from the solar panels which could amount to as much as £1,000 per year or even more. These estimates will only be provable once a whole year has passed. Any income will assist with future maintenance costs and help to keep down the rates for hiring the halls. There have been many positive comments from the users with draughts being a thing of the past, shorter heating up times for the halls and lower settings being required on the radiators.
There should be an income from the solar array and lastly but not least the front door is now draught resistant, more welcoming and user friendly.