June 13, 2024

Guest Centre Counts £5,000 Savings in a Year of Solar Transition

Fountains Abbey saves £5,000 annually after switching from fossil fuels to solar power. Staff reported that their first year with solar panels, installed in March 2023, has exceeded expectations.

Reducing Carbon Emissions


Staff at the popular National Trust landmark, Fountains Abbey, reported that their first year with solar panels has exceeded expectations. After switching from fossil fuels to solar power, the abbey cuts £5,000 annually. Installed in March 2023, the solar panels at the visitor center are part of the organization's ongoing efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

The site’s general manager, Justin Scully, mentioned that the center, which draws 400,000 visitors annually, previously relied on fossil fuels. When switching to solar panels, they had to consider the area's heritage carefully.

Justin explained that due to the site's complex heritage, every decision was made with sensitivity in mind. The installation involved integrating the panels into the roofline rather than placing them on top of the tiles to minimize intrusion and glare. This project cost approximately £50,000.

"We would have done this work anyway because of our commitment to sustainability," Justin says. "But after over a year, it's clear that the panels will have paid themselves off within a decade, which is incredible. It's a win-win for both sustainability and finances and means we're protected in case of more energy price rises in the future.”

Commitment to Addressing Climate Change


Justin highlighted that this initiative is beneficial for both sustainability and finances, providing protection against potential future energy price increases. He explained that the panels complement the heat pumps previously installed at the center and are part of a broader array of low-carbon initiatives, such as LED lightbulbs and electric vehicle charging stations.

He emphasized the National Trust's commitment to addressing climate change, which poses a significant threat to the lands and properties under their care. They aim to inspire visitors to consider their own carbon footprints.

"It is critical for the National Trust to be open about climate change, which is one of the most serious threats to the land and properties we care for," Justin adds. "We want to urge tourists to consider their own carbon footprints.

Justin emphasized that reducing carbon emissions from buildings is just one of many actions the National Trust is taking to protect the planet. Increasing the biodiversity of habitats on their land is another important effort, and this weekend’s event will celebrate that. Highlighting the link between climate change and the abundance of nature is a key focus for the National Trust, especially at Fountains Abbey, where visitors can get up close and excited about it.

Great Big Green Week


Visitors to Fountains Abbey this Sunday, June 16, will enjoy a special event celebrating Great Big Green Week by joining the site’s rangers in a BioBlitz activity. Families can act as wildlife explorers for the day, searching for bugs, beasties, and birds across the site and learning to identify various species.

Great Big Green Week is a month-long event organized by The Climate Coalition leading up to the General Election. It encourages people to showcase their climate action efforts to political candidates and urges politicians to commit to reducing emissions, restoring natural environments, and supporting those most affected by climate change locally and globally.

Helen Meech, Executive Director of The Climate Coalition, emphasized that Great Big Green Week enables many people to show the importance of nature and climate to them and share sustainable living ideas. It also reminds politicians campaigning for the General Election that there is strong public support for MPs to take more decisive action on climate issues for future generations' sake.

Fountains Abbey's successful transition to solar power not only highlights their commitment to sustainability but also serves as an inspiration for others. With substantial financial savings, reduced carbon emissions, and enhanced biodiversity efforts, the National Trust continues to lead by example in addressing climate change. Events like Great Big Green Week further engage the community, encouraging broader participation in environmental stewardship and advocacy for stronger climate action.


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