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House of Dun in Angus

House of Dun’s John McKenna has always been committed to reducing resource use, but even he was surprised to see just how much money could be saved

‘The savings exceeded our wildest expectations. At a conservative estimate, we have cut at least £2,400 a year from our energy bills alone” John McKenna, House of Dun site manager  The nearly 300-year-old House of Dun in Angus is widely considered to be one of the finest county seats in Scotland.  

As a National Trust for Scotland building, House of Dun is committed to conservation and protecting the environment. However, once John McKenna saw the scale of the savings that could be made by cutting energy and water consumption, investing further in resource efficiency became a no-brainer.  

'At first, our main objective was to show that we were taking conservation seriously and to demonstrate our commitment to green tourism’ said Mr McKenna. ‘But when we started to cut thousands from our energy bills it became clear that there was a big financial benefit.’

Cutting energy, water and raw material use, and handling waste more efficiently, are the easiest ways for organisations in Scotland to make savings. Zero Waste Scotland, which supports small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to become more efficient, helps to save businesses an average of £16,000 a year though implementing sustainability measures.

When Mr McKenna performed his own audit of House of Dun’s resource use, his team went from room-to-room assessing opportunities to enhance efficiency. They quickly realised that upgrading the old filament bulbs used to light the rooms to energy efficient light emitting diodes (LEDs) would reduce energy consumption for lighting by 95%.

One of the biggest challenges that businesses face in implementing their energy efficiency plans is sourcing suitable equipment. That is why businesses that work with Zero Waste Scotland receive free due-diligence support to ensure they get the best result for their projects.  

House of Dun faced similar challenges when trying to source low-energy light fittings, but for an unusual reason.

‘We needed to ensure that the light would fit the history of the house, which would have originally been provided entirely by candlelight. This meant that the bulbs used in the offices weren’t appropriate for many of the rooms explained Mr McKenna. ‘Fortunately, we were eventually able to source candle-style LEDs that created the right atmosphere at a fraction of the energy costs.’

When making recommendations for energy efficient actions, Zero Waste Scotland looks at the lifetime savings of new equipment alongside other benefits to a business. House of Dun did the same when it reviewed the impact of installing LEDs. It calculated that because LEDs have a longer lifetime than halogen bulbs, the level of maintenance required would be greatly reduced. This meant that House of Dun staff would be able to avoid disturbing many of the house’s precious artefacts as much as possible.

‘The first rule to maintaining a historical building is to avoid touching anything as much as possible’ said Mr McKenna. ‘The more you handle something, the greater risk there is of damaging it. Changing the lightbulbs in a priceless chandelier can take nerves of steel. With the new LED bulbs, the only time we need to touch the fittings over the next 30 years should be when we dust them.’

And the savings don’t stop at lighting. House of Dun has implemented systems to reduce water use in its bathrooms, including dual-flush toilets.

External properties of the estate, which include holiday accommodation, have also been fitted with solar thermal panels. In the summer, these panels supply nearly all of the heating requirements for the buildings.

Going forward, the team is investigating the potential of installing a biomass boiler to provide heating throughout the site.

As the National Trust for Scotland is a charity, the savings made at the House of Dun through resource efficiency improvements are reinvested in conserving the site for visitors and future generations. However, were House of Dun a private-sector business, then these savings would go straight to the bottom line.

For SMEs considering their own resource efficiency projects, Zero Waste Scotland offers a range of funding to help unlock these savings. This includes unsecured, interest-free loans up to £100,000 from the Scottish Government and the European Regional Development Fund. 

‘Green tourism is important for us to meet the high expectations of our environmentally conscious visitors’ said Mr McKenna. ‘But if you look at it from a purely commercial angle, then reducing resource use is a no brainer. The savings you make mean implementation is effectively cost neutral and everything after that is profit. What we have done isn’t difficult, it could be replicated by practically every type of business or organisation.’

To find out how much your business could save, contact a friendly Zero Waste Scotland adviser on 0808 808 2268 or through enquiries@resourceefficientscotland.com 

Leisure/hospitality/tourism
Solar water heating
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