11 February 2016

Devon care home recognised for leading energy strategy

A leading Devon care home for adults with learning disabilities is leading the way in energy saving technology having made major financial savings and receiving two coveted awards in recognition of its eco-friendly efforts.

Midas Energy, a division of Exeter-based firm The Midas Group, worked with Stallcombe House, a residential care home and working farm for adults with learning disabilities and autism, to help the charity cut its energy consumption to save money, as well as reducing its carbon footprint.

The group’s Mi-space division then managed a renewable energy project to install solar panels at the home in Woodbury near Exeter, as well as helping to fit a biomass boiler, which will help to make Stallcombe House more energy-efficient for the future.

The project was such a success that the charity won a prestigious Devon Environmental Business Initiative (DEBI) Award at the end of 2015 when it was judged the Business with the Best Sustainable Ethos, and Stallcombe House so impressed DEBI judges that the care home also scooped the ‘Winner of Winners’ award and was named Best Overall Sustainable Business in Devon.

A key strand of the work involved minimising disruption to residents at Stallcombe House, and Midas Project Manager Julian Phillips met with residents regularly and used a story board to help explain what plant and machinery would be on site, what it would look like and how noisy it might be.

The entire Midas Energy and Mi-space project teams on site also ensured they learnt residents’ names, and that Stallcombe residents got to know them in return, so residents felt comfortable with staff.

Chris Thistle, General Manager of Stallcombe House, said: “From start to finish, Midas Energy was extremely professional and empathetic. Any disruption or change in routines can cause our residents anxiety, so Midas arranged for residents to actually feel part of the process throughout, inviting them to watch work on site, and become fully involved in the project. It was really well managed, and we are delighted with the results.

“Stallcombe House has always been very focused on looking after the environment, with our own reed bed sewage filtration system to dispose of waste, organic gardens where we make our own compost, and a private bore hole to produce water for the gardens. This project was about securing the future of our energy use as well as reducing costs, and we are absolutely positive it will help us to save money on our energy use, and be hugely beneficial to the organisation.

“Midas recommended that we enter the DEBI awards and to win was brilliant, we were really overwhelmed.”

Midas Energy was commissioned to investigate ways that Stallcombe House could reduce its operational costs which would safeguard its business function for the next 20 years, as well as reduce its carbon footprint and enhance the sustainable profile of the operation.

Jonathan Davis, Head of Midas Energy, said: “Stallcombe House is one of Devon’s best kept secrets in the care sector, accommodating 16 full time residents, and enabling them to have meaningful and full lives, working in a farm on site in a variety of practical roles.

“We are immensely proud to have been pivotal in helping to shape the innovation and creation of a new heat and power strategy for Stallcombe House which has brought about real solutions, and for the charity to have gone on to win two prized awards at the DEBI awards - including the Winner of Winners overall award - which was a great accolade for a very worthy recipient.”

Midas Energy provided an in-depth consultancy and assessment service to Stallcombe House and carried out a feasibility assessment for the solar panel scheme, as well as surveys, design and consultancy work, and managing the planning application process before organising installation of the solar PV panels through the group’s Mi-space division.

The project impressed judges at the DEBI Awards, which have been running annually for the last two decades to recognise environmental achievements in Devon amongst businesses, charities, social enterprises and community projects. The 2015 DEBI Awards were given out at a ceremony held at the Met Office near Exeter last November.

Lucy Robinson, DEBI Administrator, said: “When Midas Energy and Mi-Space went in to  Stallcombe House to undertake an extensive project installing renewable energy materials, the teams worked collaboratively with staff and residents to ensure the whole process ran seamlessly. For many people on the autistic spectrum, building work has the potential to be very distressing, yet with imagination and lateral thinking, the team pulled this off.

“DEBI was extremely impressed by how Stallcombe has gone to extensive lengths to utilise and harness renewable energy from solar PV, biomass and ground source heat pumps, as well as the sympathetic use of the grounds to work in harmony with the environment.

“The judging panel was blown away by the work being done at Stallcombe, so they scooped the Sustainable Ethos title.”

ENDS

Image: L- R – Collecting the DEBI Award, Jonathan Davis, Head of Midas Energy; Chris Thistle, Stallcombe House Operations Manager; Phil Rackstraw, Chair of the Board of Governors at Stallcombe House and Julian Phillips, Midas Energy Senior Project Manager.

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