Organic Energy Case Studies
700 years old Levens Hall, Cumbria
the 56kW Pellematic boiler with vacuum wood pellet delivery system
Buffer tanks and Flexilo wood pellet storage
Fixings and installation were sympathetic to the age of the building
Hal Bagot, of Levens Hall, with installer Martin Robinson
Originally built more than 700 years ago, Levens Hall is an historic building which has seen many changes throughout its life. It has undergone rebuilding and extensions on a grand scale and had improvements made which have included running water, electricity and sanitation. The Hall is the ancestral home of the Bagot family and was reliant on both LPG and oil for its heating and hot water, with fuel costs running at around £15,000 a year.
Levens Hall is a family home, but it also opens to the public. Attracting more than 35,000 people a year, with the Hall open from April to October, the estate's energy bills were a factor which needed addressing. Although opening the Grade 1 listed house to the public covers some of the running costs, escalating fuel bills were having a profound effect on the balance sheets of the hall and gardens.
The Bagot family, emulating the forward thinking of their predecessors and wanting to bring the historic house into the 21st century, were keen to consider alternatives to the costs of LPG and oil. The owners wished to take advantage of grant funding for sustainable heating systems and also ensure eligibility for related Government incentives for installing green heat. They approached Sustaburn, the North of England approved installer for Organic Energy, and the sole UK supplier of world-class ÖkoFEN automated wood pellet heating systems.
Given Levens Hall's location on the edge of the Lake District National Park and its status as a stately home, consultation about the installation was also required to take place with English Heritage and the National Park Trust. An interest-free Carbon Trust loan helped fund the installation which totalled around £75,000.
Two 56 kW vacuum suction wood pellet boilers were installed in the Hall's brew room. The system includes two compact pellet stores with a combined capacity of 12 tonnes. The project saw the removal of two oil boilers, and three LPG boiler systems.
The ÖkoFEN Pellematic wood pellet boilers, with automatic fuel supply, include an ash compression system, boiler 'back end' protection and fully automated digital heating controls. When pellets are delivered into the main hoppers, this is recorded on the boiler control panel and then an on-board weighing system measures the pellets used as they go through the internal hopper. The boilers also have an online component which enables remote monitoring on a webbased system.
The boilers heat the estate's hall, shop, potting shed area as well as the propagating greenhouse. Challenges which were overcome as part of the installation included careful excavation of the courtyard linking the main Hall to the boiler, which required an archaeologist on site, and installation of a twin, inside the original chimney, ensuring exterior brackets were sympathetic to the building's history.
The installation was completed in May 2011 and already Levens Hall is seeing drastically reduced fuel bills. The owners were previously tied-in to regular LPG and oil deliveries, which have been replaced by a delivery of wood pellets twice or three times a year.
The annual fuel bill has dropped from around £15,000 a year to £10,000 for the wood pellets. In addition, the installation attracts the Renewable Heat Incentive at a rate of around £12,000 a year. The installation has already cut the estate's carbon footprint by around 70-75 tonnes of CO2 a year.
An unexpected benefit has been a noticeable improvement in the efficiency of the Hall's heating system, with the installation retro-fitted to the existing pipework. The circulation pumps for the Hall's heating were changed as part of the installation, with the added benefit that the water circulates through the system moving slowly giving the Hall's limited number of radiators sufficient time to heat up effectively.