Blog | Eco-friendly HQ slashes Scout District’s costs

Eco Hut Outside

Epping Forest South District’s new HQ has vastly benefitted from a new energy efficient heating system.

On entering the cavernous Roscovo Hall - Epping Forest South District’s headquarters - on a bitingly cold winter’s day, it’s easy to be baffled by how warm it is inside. Underfloor heating keeps the building, completed in late 2015, at a constantly warm temperature that means it can be enjoyed not only by local Scout Groups, but also the wider community.

When the hall, in Wanstead, East London, was being built, the District team looked into their options and discovered that they were eligible to apply for a government subsidy, the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). This scheme pays out to individuals and organisations who install renewable technologies, like solar panels, rather than relying on traditional fossil-fuel sources for heating. 

This, along with the fact that gas and electric alternatives would have incurred significant up-front costs, swayed the District to plum for an ultra-modern air source heat pump system, for heating and hot water. The heat pump acts like a fridge in reverse, extracting heat from the outside air and absorbing it into a fluid which is passed through a compressor. Here, the temperature is increased, and then this heat is transferred to the underfloor heating pipes.

Eco Hall Inside 

‘In our first year, we received RHI payments of £460 to set against our fuel bills totalling £530. Without those, the higher up-front costs of installing the heat pump system may have been too much to have made it worthwhile,’ Steve Ladle, District Treasurer, explains.

‘I am also a bit of a tree hugger, and the fact that we are using a solution that doesn’t rely heavily on fossil fuels is a really good thing,’ he adds. ‘We are very confident that the system was the correct choice. I believe we can justifiably boast to be among the greenest Scout Districts in the country.’

In addition to the underfloor heating, which eliminates the needs for large radiators around the hall, the building is also very well insulated. Once it has heated up to the right temperature, heat loss is minimal and the hall always stays at a reasonable temperature. ‘That’s important because we don’t have a full-time caretaker,’ Steve continues. ‘While the system still needs to be serviced, the requirement is a lot lighter than for other systems, which, again, is a cost saving as well as a reduction in the overall fire and safety risk. We are also now less exposed to future increases in the cost of energy.’

Astonishingly, the Scout’s heating and hot water costs have plummeted from around £2,000 per year in the previous 1970s headquarters, to just £70 per year in a building more than twice the size of the one it replaced. 

‘Our old building was so cold and run down that few people would come to it,’ Steve says. ‘Now, all sorts of local organisations are clamouring to use the new facility.’ There are around 800 young people involved in Scouting in the District, and most local Groups have waiting lists of young people wanting to join. ‘Our biggest problem is finding the volunteers to run the sections,’ Steve continues. ‘Our aim is that the new HQ will help with recruitment of volunteers. We can now run training programmes for them in a warm and comfortable environment, and we hope that will bring people in.’

Inspired to make a change in your Group, District or County? Find out more about the grants available through The Scout Association.

 

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