Case study – The GRANITE HOUSE
First carbon neutral stone shop
The Granite House
– Business type: manufacturing
– Building age: 1970s
– Primary goal: to reduce the environmental impact of the business
– Measures: LED lighting, absence detectors, installing radiant heaters in workshop, replacing front door.
The Granite House is a stone shop specialising in granite, based in Bicester, where they rent a premises containing a workshop, office, and showroom. The team had become increasingly aware of the need to do something about their environmental impact.
About the building
The Granite House have a long-term lease at a premises on an industrial estate in Bicester, Oxfordshire, with the buildings dating from the 1970s.
Their premises consists of a large workshop where they cut and shape materials, an office for staff (including toilets and kitchenette), and a showroom for potential customers to explore the granite options.
Motivations for energy improvements
The team at The Granite House were becoming increasingly aware of and concerned about climate change, and wanted to make changes in their own lives to make a different – and that included at work too.
They knew that energy would be a large factor in the carbon footprint of the business, with an energy use of over 96,100 kilowatt hours of energy each year, at an annual cost to our business of over £12,000.
“My colleagues and I have become increasingly aware of the need to be greener, both in our personal lives and at work. Our primary reason for engaging with energy efficiency was a moral one, rather than a financial.”Tim Rotherham, Owner of The Granite House
The process of making improvements
The Granite House had an energy audit by the Environmental Information Exchange team at Oxford Brookes University (one of our project partners) assessing existing energy usage and potential areas for savings.
predicted annual energy saving
predicted annual carbon saving
predicted annual cost saving
If followed, the report showed that these recommendations would bring about significant improvements, with a predicted 21,202 kWh of energy saved every year – representing 1.54 tonnes of CO2 emissions, and £5,618 worth of energy bills.
Replacing the front door
The front door to the building was replaced. Previously they had a 30 year old fire door which had become the main entrance to the premises, and was not well fit or insulated. With guests and customers regularly visiting the showroom, the door was often left open, adding to heat loss. The new replacement door is close fitting and well insulated.
Heating system: installing radiant heaters
There were two heating systems at the premises: an oil-fired air blown heating system in the workshop, and electric heaters in the office.
The oil-fired system in the workshop wasn’t effectively heating the space, meaning staff were getting cold when working in the workshop.
They installed 3 infrared radiant heaters in the workshop to help with this – these are heaters that heat quickly and directly, so are used to heat specific workstations.
This has meant they’re less dependent on the oil-fired heater, using less fossil fuels to heat the premises.
Lighting: LEDs and absence detectors
Five lighting fixtures were replaced with LED lights – which are more energy efficient and last much longer than traditional bulbs so bring both cost and carbon savings.
There were also two absence detectors installed in the staff breakroom which automatically turn off lights when the room is unoccupied, avoiding wasted energy on lights which didn’t need to be on.
What’s next for The Granite House?
The team didn’t stop there! The Granite House has an ambition to be the first carbon neutral stone shop in the UK, and so they’re already planning further improvements. This includes making improvements to their roof insulation, and switching some of their delivery vehicles to Electric Vehicles.
One barrier they have found to going carbon neutral is the time it takes to recover costs – you spend money upfront on these improvements but it takes a while to get the savings back on energy bills. For The Granite House, this was particularly tricky as they were investing money in a rented property that they didn’t own.
“We were grateful to receive grant-funding through the OxFutures programme, but we can see that the new support from Energy Solutions Oxfordshire in sourcing low interest financing opportunities would help massively with upfront costs too.”Tim Rotherham, Owner of The Granite House