Sustainability: it’s a big subject and a big headache and a big responsibility

Here at the Green Room and at Cranmer Country Cottages we factored in sustainability and eco-responsibility from the get-go of our business planning. Our vision was to “create a high quality sustainable self-catering holiday destination while minimising the impact of our business activities on the environment’.

Holidays don’t sit comfortably in the ‘go green’ model. Transport is a major stumbling block if, like us you are offering beautiful rural isolation as part of your appeal. Incentives to travel ‘green’ are never taken up (back to the drawing board there).  Holidaymakers who regularly recycle at home are less likely to want to bother on their holiday. We work hard to enable our guests to ‘Go Green at Cranmer’ and have comprehensive recycling facilities but if they want to dump all their rubbish in one bag, there is little we can do about it. It’s OK to do a Rotweiller impression in the office but prowling around the cottages checking into bins is an absolute no-no.  However, we can pat ourselves on the back as our supplier recycles over 90% of waste collected. So ‘A-’with some way still to go.

 Another stumbling block for rural sustainability has been a reliance on oil for heating and hot water. Oh, and we also have a stunning, heated indoor swimming pool.  Over the years we have installed a 20kw wind turbine, 2 ground source heat pumps and 50kw of solar thermal.
Sustainable  ü. However, the swimming pool was always a stumbling block so this summer, with much blood, sweat and tears and expense, we commissioned a 100kw biomass boiler. Swimming pool ü. Heating for the office and house ü. Heating for the cottages previously running on calor
gas and oil ü.
 Why is it such a responsibility?  Whether you believe in the problems of climate change or not the undisputed fact is that we are running out of fossil fuels (the clue is in the word – fossil). We have heard many arguments over why renewables are not efficient, cost too much and are a blot on the landscape but the stark fact is that we have no choice. We have to find different sources of energy otherwise we will run out. Power cuts may be just a threat at the moment (price rises are currently a very hot potato) but they are inevitable if we concentrate purely on the now and fail to invest in sustainable energy sources. Yes, they are expensive to install and run but we have to start somewhere and as the technology improves, it will get cheaper. Electricity was so expensive to install originally that only the very rich were able to benefit. And building electricity systems from scratch was hardly economic. And electricity pylons are not beautiful. And which would you rather have?  Wind farms or Chinese-funded nuclear power stations.
We have no choice.
It’s been a steep learning curve and we are happy to share our experiences with others, which we will do in this blog. Please keep reading.  And let us have your comments.