In case you weren’t aware this is Climate Week, your chance to switch your lights off, recycle leftover food and stop watching TV – no really – try reading a book instead but a real book not a Kindle because you’ll need to charge that! Anyway, here at Big Lottery Fund Scotland we thought this was a good opportunity to highlight one of our many environmentally friendly, energy efficient, sustainable projects courtesy of our Growing Community Assets programme.
The Galson Estate covers most of North West of Lewis. It’s a community owned estate managed by Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn – the Galson Estate Trust. Supporting a population of 2000, three years ago, the Trust undertook a major Business Centre and Wind Energy development project.
With an emphasis on energy efficiency the Business Centre was designed by architect Chris Morgan, of Locate Architects, who specialise in environmentally friendly developments. A local building firm, Alex Murray Construction, won the tender to complete the project and, working with the architect, learned new techniques which incorporated a number of technologies to reduce the building’s carbon footprint and energy use.
Three years on, the Business Centre has been open for a year and is the headquarters for the Galson Estate Trust which is now employing seven staff. Their Commercial Development Manager, Lisa Maclean, is delighted with progress so far:
“The Centre is proving very successful having gained a number of awards already and becoming more recognised as a central hub for the community. It supports business and community initiatives, providing offices for rent and meeting and conference rooms for hire. There’s also a vast area that’s been used for crofters’ markets but, in line with our ecological remit and the aim to ensure economic regeneration, we’re exploring the idea of a retail outlet. This will capture the essence of the Hebrides by showcasing quality, locally produced merchandise created using local materials and resources.”
“Our “A” energy efficiency rating helps the building’s running costs but the true impact will be felt when the Community Investment Fund is set up and we’re distributing funds back into the community. As part of the three-year grant, funded through Big Lottery Fund’s Growing Community Assets area of investment, the community is planning to erect the first 900kW turbine in July. This is the first phase of the 2.7MW consented development to harness the natural resource and generate a six figure sum for the community through government incentive schemes.”
So, watch this space – or blog – we’ll be bringing you updates.