People with a long connection with The Warehouse mixed with some who had never been there before, at an Open Day on the 31st March.It is 35 years since Birmingham Friends of the Earth first took on their 19th century building in Digbeth.
Phil Burrows the building manager explained the progress made on making it energy efficient, in a quest for the lowest carbon emissions acheivable. Hot water is from solar tubes on the roof. We saw the biomass boiler designed to run off wood pellets. However the real secret of low carbon is to hold onto the heat with serious levels of insulation. The front reception area has had its solid walls insulated on the inside. Now the long, north facing wall of the building is getting 12 inches of polystyrene fixed onto the outside and rendered. It is twice the thickness that current building regulations require. This is a demonstration paid for from DECC’s Local Energy Assessment Fund, to inspire other property owners with solid walled buildings. The contractor is Jericho Construction a social enterprise that aims to get unemployed people back into work (Tony Cockayne filled in the technical details for us.)
Visitors were able to hear about how they can insulate the solid walls of their older houses and about the new Green Deal, which is a way to pay off the costs over time from the energy savings. Sixty per cent of a house’s fuel is used to keep the rooms warm and rising fuel bills are a big concern. Delicious vegetarian food sustained us, accompanied by a bottle of Rhubarb 1990 wine, well-matured in our cellar. A happy and illuminating day all round, if an exhausting one for Phil!