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11 Sustainable Spaces

It's Sustainable September. At What's On were shining a light on venues and cultural sectors and the steps they've taken to tackle climate change.

1. The Lost Gardens of Heligan

The team at Heligan are working in various ways to enhance the sustainability of the site and the wider environment. Improvements include monitoring energy consumption through weekly meter readings, collecting rainwater for use in the gardens, low flush toilets and use of an onsite borehole. 

Heligan has replaced all existing light bulbs with LED bulbs, invested in equipment with ‘A’ grade efficiency rating and installed secondary glazing where possible. They champion the purchase of recyclable materials and encouraging all staff and visitors to actively reduce, reuse and recycle; using recycling stations for customers to use in high use areas that make it simple for visitors to segregate their waste and recyclables. 

In Heligan’s productive garden, they have a staggering 500 varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs. So all produce travels just a few yards from the soil to the kitchens. Heligan also promotes green travel options to the public by offering a discounted entrance price for visitors who arrive by public transport, bicycle, or foot.

2. The Greenbank Hotel

The Greenbank Hotel has been praised for its responsible purchasing, with sustainability at the top of its agenda. Sourcing the food and drink from local suppliers wherever possible, to showcase the incredible produce Cornwall has to offer, to as well cut down their carbon footprint.

The Greenbank uses The Cornwall Good Seafood Guide, a local sustainability programme that supports Cornish fisheries, healthy seas and sustainable species when purchasing seafood for our restaurant to ensure they aren’t having a detrimental effect on the fishing industry or the marine environment.

When it comes to coffee, their guests can enjoy a guilt-free cup, as they use bio-degradable coffee capsules supplied by Eden Project, as well as working with Cornico Coffee in their coffee recycling scheme.

Greenbank have also introduced branded refillable glass water bottles in all the hotel rooms, replacing plastic bottles, which were inevitably contributing to their plastic waste. Greenbank has teamed up with a local potter Natalie Bonney, who has created beautiful hand-crafted ceramic bottles for each hotel room. With 61 rooms in the hotel, this will be avoiding throwing tens of thousands of plastic toiletry bottles away per year.

3. Mount Plesant Eco Park

Mount Pleasant Eco Park has been developed over the last 19 years to become a flexible and imaginative community resource. It provides a high-quality workspace for businesses and groups and organic growing space for local people through the community garden scheme. Through their charity Down to Earth Foundation, schools, colleges, universities and the general public come to their site to learn traditional sustainable skills. 

Electricity across the Eco Park is powered by a wind turbine, producing 30% of their electricity. The campsite’s solar showers and shepherd’s huts run from 4kw solar panels. To reduce the need for lighting, all the buildings have been designed to let in as much natural light as possible. They have Pioneer EBC, an environmental building company, on-site, who donates all their waste wood to help keep everyone warm in the winter. 

4. The Eden Project

Eden is one of the best-known venues in Cornwall for its sustainable practice. Initiatives include reducing energy use, making soil from recycled waste, buying locally, driving electric vehicles and supporting responsible global trade. 

Power is generated on-site through solar panels and a 5kW wind turbine, and the charity is exploring the possibility of hydro and geothermal energy too. At Eden’s, it’s all about nature and the millions of plants help to capture carbon. To keep all of those plants watered, the biomes are irrigated by underwater drainage systems harvest water coming onto the site. Eden also introduced a fleet of 18 Renault electric vehicles used by the team on and offsite. The Eden Project is determined to educate us all on how the natural world supports us, informing, educating and enabling us to take realistic actions that will make a difference to the world.

5. The Working Boat

The Working Boat are immensely proud of their Gold Level Green Tourism award, an accreditation that they have held for several years, which requires a dedicated approach to sustainability.

They host a bi-yearly beach clean for Surfers Against Sewage to support the coast, supported by Sharp’s Brewery. Many Working Boat team members also volunteer to help at Falmouth’s Spring Clean, which happens every March.  As part of the nationwide project to encourage litter picking, The Working Boat and Greenbank invested £400 to install one of the Two Minute Beach Clean Stations in the Greenbank Gardens. The station has a litter picker and refuse bags so members of the public can do their bit to keep the surrounding areas of the Greenbank beach clean.

During events, The Working Boat has launched a reusable glass scheme to eradicate single-use plastic, asking customers for a £1 deposit when they order a drink in one of our lovely branded Working Boat glasses made of reusable plastic, which they get back when they return the glass to us. 

6. Trebah Garden

Trebah considers and strives for sustainable practice in every aspect of what they do, including purchasing goods and materials, transport, water consumption, waste management, energy usage, responsible purchasing, local sourcing, seasonal catering and low food mile. 

They have a Solar Photovoltaic system on the Visitor Centre, which provides sustainable power to their Shops and Cafe. The system reduces energy consumption by an estimated 25% and saves over 28,500 kg CO2 a year – the equivalent of planting 28 trees per year!

In 2019, work started on a Ground Source Heating System at Trebah. Installed under the site of the Walled Garden, 100m deep boreholes were drilled and pipework installed. The Ground Source Heating provides hot water for the Visitor Centre, using cleaner energy and replacing their old propane gas-powered boilers.

Trebah also monitors their performance regularly and communicates with visitors and staff, survey and implement actions and promote green credentials, wherever possible.

7. Heartlands

Heartlands use a top-down approach to reduce energy consumption within buildings where practically possible by improving insulation, reducing air permeability and adding draught lobbies. They’ve used energy-efficient systems such as low energy lighting and renewable energy technologies (biomass district heating, solar photovoltaics and wind turbine) throughout the development.

Heartlands consultants have devised a communal rainwater harvesting strategy to use existing below-ground storage structures to store rainwater collected from roofs across the site. The combination of water-efficient fixtures and fittings and the rainwater harvesting system should provide a 60% reduction in potable water demands.

8. Chyan Cultural Sector

Chyans Cultural Sector has a mission is to involve as many people from the local community in activities as possible. These include producing local, organic food; teaching and learning about sustainable living and traditional crafts and encouraging adventurous play and connection with nature. 

To enable these goals Chyan Cultural Sector gave 2.2 acres to the local community as organic land for projects. It was painstakingly developed by local volunteers and members who set up a strawbale tea shed, tool store, a polytunnel and various compost heaps alongside they developed a sensory garden, a covered cob seat,  playground, a mud kitchen, a willow den and playscape area and community orchard.  

There are plans for a Wind Garden Play Area and an outdoor classroom/theatre space too. They also run training courses in gardening, traditional crafts, tree & orchard maintenance, sustainable building, woodland and bushcraft, art and nature for the public and the local community. 

9. The Fleapit

Miracle Theatre has a new portable performance structure – The Fleapit.

The Fleapit creates an intimate and safe performance space for audience members. The Fleapit is a 360-degree canvas made from upcycled materials, second-hand scaffolding and old marquee canvas lit with LED lighting. It provides a completely immersive and safe theatre experience, and with separate audience booths, up to seven friends and family can come together in a safe, eco-friendly environment.

10. Newquay Orchard

Newquay Orchard is a business striving to create an environmentally conscious and sustainable community. They provide educational services to local schools and residents and work to support the local community through events, job creation and environmentally sustainable economic growth. 

Newquay Orchard launched a community programme, ‘Sustainable Lives’, enabling the community to learn simple self-sufficiency skills in the Community Wood workshop and their Community Grow Space at the 7-acre urban green space.

They are continuously promoting sustainable ways of living, be it growing food locally, using recycled materials or protecting precious wildlife. Sustainable Lives is about sharing this process and empowering people to find practical solutions and inspire each other.

11. Krowji

Krowji building The Percy Williams Building which has 70 creative studio spaces for artists, has a BREEAM Excellent rating. BREEAM is a sustainability assessment method for master planning projects, infrastructure and buildings. The Percy Williams Building was credited on the low impact design and its carbon emissions reduction; the design durability and resilience; adaption to climate change; and ecological value and biodiversity protection.

Prior to and in the development/construction of the Percy Williams Building, ecology surveys and reports were carried out, ensuring they maximise the value of habitats within the site and that the outdoor areas are maintained to enhance their biodiversity interest. Many of the trees planted at Krowji, although ornamental, are cultivars or native trees chosen for their attributes to provide good foraging, shelter and nesting opportunities for bird species. Two bat tubes and six units for birds, which nest in association with human habitation, have been installed.

Krowji’s primary energy suppliers provide electricity from biomass, wind power and solar. In 2019-2020 15% of their electricity was supplied via Solar Photovoltaic, a renewable onsite source. Additional 10KW Solar PV and Solar Thermal systems were installed on the Percy Williams.

Florence Cashel

Theatre, live music, comedy, community workshops with social impact: these are a few of Florence’s favourite things. When she’s not at Cornwall 365, Florence is a theatremaker and performer.