Energy efficient transformation for Newburgh Hall
The Vattenfall Unlock our Future Fund has supported a coastal community in Aberdeenshire to transform the energy efficiency of their village hall. Energy-saving measures plus air source heat pumps, solar panels and batteries bring the hall as close to zero carbon as feasible.
The hall dates from the late 1800s and is a traditional granite construction with a 1950s concrete extension. The Hall Committee began a consultation in 2017 to understand the refurbishment priorities for users and design a programme of improvements that would secure the building’s future.
Enhancements have included an entrance ramp, accessible toilets and a new kitchen. The Hall Committee saw improved energy efficiency as a priority, reducing carbon emissions and reducing costs, making the Hall more financially sustainable. Advice was then sought from Zero Waste Scotland's Energy Efficiency Business Support service, whose report, alongside community consultation, informed the refurbishment plans.
The refurbishment involved upgrading insulation using materials with a low environmental impact, such as diabase rock wool and recycled plasterboard. Windows were refurbished using energy-efficient glazing, and all lighting was replaced with LED. Three air source heat pumps provide heating for the hall. This first phase cost over £100k, with £13,860 provided by the Vattenfall Unlock our Future Fund, specifically for the air source heat pumps. Other funding was received from the Scottish Government’s Community Climate Asset Fund, the Robertson Trust and developer obligations.
As well as saving on energy costs, users of the hall have noticed that the space heats more quickly and is more comfortable. The temperature can also be adjusted rapidly, which the badminton club and exercise classes have appreciated, who prefer a cooler temperature to other users.
In 2021, the Vattenfall Unlock our Future Fund made a further award of £15,000 to fund the purchase of solar panels and a battery storage unit. This was informed by an updated assessment provided by Zero Waste Scotland, which estimated the likely costs, savings and feasibility of renewables generation options for the building. The generation of renewable energy from the solar panels, alongside the high energy efficiency of the refurbished building, makes the hall as close to net-zero as is feasible. The inclusion of a battery maximises electricity generation, which can be used directly by the hall rather than sold back to the grid. Limited evidence is available at present on the effectiveness of battery storage in community buildings. This is an area the Unlock our Future Fund Panel plan to investigate further.
As well as the direct impacts of the refurbishment on the Hall’s sustainability, the Hall Committee has helped establish a local climate action group. This new group has shared information about the refurbishment with people in the wider community, demonstrating the difference which can be made, even to a granite built, difficult to heat building. As told Foundation Scotland:
"We hope that our project will be an inspiration for others to reduce their CO2 emissions in similar ways both individually and as communities"
Jane Bradford, Hall Committee Member
One lesson learned during the refurbishment has been about the practical difficulties involved in phasing work supported by a multiplicity of funders. This meant that work phases were informed partly by grant funders’ decisions and deadlines rather than by what would have made the most sense from a construction point of view. However, the Hall Committee and their contractors managed these complexities, providing the community of Newburgh with an energy-efficient building fit for the future.
To find out how your project can benefit from free energy efficiency advice, visit Zero Waste Scotland's Energy Efficiency Business Support. To find out more about the fund, visit Vattenfall Unlock our Future Fund