We converted our former barns and outbuildings during 2004 with the prime aim of using reclaimed bricks as well as using low energy bulbs and naturally renewable materials such as sheepswool for insulation. Our intention is to offer luxurious self catering accommodation whilst keeping in check our impact upon the local environment and wildlife.
On our farm we operate a waste and recycling policy as well as instigating energy saving initiatives and we wanted to carry this through to our holiday cottages. We are aware that some of our activities can cause harm to the environment but once identified we do try to minimise the detrimental effect being caused.
Our farm has made a commitment to planting trees and hedges and since 2000 we have planted over 2000 trees and nearly 3 miles of hedges.
The following environmental points have been identified and are regularly monitored:
We record our water meter readings on a monthly basis so we can quickly identify leaks (Anglian Water only check meters once or twice a year and a leak could go undetected for months wasting thousands of litres of water). Showers are available in every holiday cottage as a water saving option to a bath; in four cottages a shower is the only option. We have purposely not fitted power showers as they use so much more water than a bath.
Only 'A' grade dishwashers and washing machines have been fitted. Dual flush toilets have been fitted throughout our accommodation. Woodchip is used on the gardens reducing the need to water plants. A treatment plant is used to treat all sewage with the aim of returning as much treated clean water back to the environment.
We use email and the telephone whenever possible to reduce our paper based usage for communications. We send our used printer cartridges for recycling. Whenever possible we buy refills and bulk-buy in an effort to reduce packaging waste. We utilise recycled products if the option is available and our brochure is now made from environmentally friendly card.
Individual recycling bins have been added for paper and card, cans and tins, clear glass, green glass and brown glass. Energy: We actively monitor our energy usage by separating the amount used between the farm and the farm cottages by fitting our own electricity meters, thus helping to identify potential savings in both businesses. We have tested an energy monitor which shows the cost per kilowatt, amount of energy used and the kilograms of greenhouse gas produced, and a monitor has been placed in each holiday cottage.
Where appropiate we have fitted energy efficient bulbs throughout. All exterior lights are fitted with energy efficient bulbs with a light sensor so they turn themselves off as soon as there is enough daylight. This ensures that the lights remain on only when needed unlike electronic timers. All windows are double glazed and draft free.
During renovation our cottages had insulation placed under the floor and along all external walls where cavity walls were not present as well as sheepswool in the loft. All convector and storage heaters are fitted with temperature controlled thermostats. Curtains have been fitted to all external French doors to reduce draughts and heat loss.
'A' grade fridge/freezers, ovens, hobs, extractor fan, dishwashers and washing machines have been fitted throughout. Tastes of Lincolnshire Welcome packs are made up from locally produced foods to reduce food miles. We advertise the fact that we have a train station 300 metres from our cottages allowing guests the option to travel to us by train and leave their car at home. A notice has been placed in each cottage and reads:
Energy Conservation We believe we have a duty to care for the environment and you can help by turning off cottage lights, the television and electrical appliances every time you leave the cottage. Check you are not wasting water by leaving any taps running.
Employment within Elms Farm Cottages is sourced as local to Boston as possible. Our cottages were renovated and are currently maintained by local builders to reduce the impact of their travelling to our property. We use local suppliers for all our materials, goods and services to save transport costs.
Encourage guests to reduce their water and electric usage (signs in each cottage fitted in September 2006).
Encourage guests to recycle by providing separate waste bins in each cottage for glass, paper, cans and tins. (introduced in March 2007)
Provide a bin for composting kitchen waste.
Although we use a large number of low energy bulbs we are evaluating the possible use of solar powered lights for the courtyard and pathways and LED lights inside each cottage.
We are considering charging guests for using the tumble driers by using a coin meter. This would bring to their attention the fact that they should be using natural air for drying their washing whenever possible.
We are evaluating the pros and cons of fitting a woodchip and wheat boiler which would allow us to replace the the storage heaters with radiators. We estimate that we would reduce our consumption of fossil fuels by 50%, and replace it with a sustainable natural fuel that can be grown on our farm. Ideally we would like to produce electricity at the same time. Unfortunately, even with a government grant, the cost is quite prohibitive at the moment.
We are considering the best way we can collect rainwater in storage tanks for watering the gardens and containers wherever possible.