Penpont House, situated in the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales, is a privately owned Grade 1 Listed house built in 1666. Its’ current owners, Gavin and Davina Hogg, along with their two sons, opened the house and grounds to the public for the first time in the building’s history, in 1996. With sustainability at the heart of its operations, including a Euroheat biomass boiler and rainwater harvesting system, Penpont now offers accommodation for 17 guests in a self-catering Courtyard Wing, plus a venue for weddings, parties and conferences.
Located on the banks of the River Usk, Penpont is surrounded by a 2,000 acre working rural estate, with the house, the centre piece of a remarkable group of buildings spanning various periods. Penpont’s owners have always had a great respect for the environment and a desire to cut carbon, winning their first green award the ‘Wales – Business and Sustainability Award’ in 2006 and more recently a ‘Green Business Tourism Award’ in May 2014.
Gavin Hogg, Penpont’s owner, said: “Going ‘green’ was always a priority for us. We feel very strongly about the need to reduce our carbon footprint, and, over the past ten years, the advent of new and better technology has made this more achievable.”
Green initiatives introduced at Penpont include a Euroheat HDG Compact 200, woodchip biomass boiler, which provides heating for the main buildings on the site; a rainwater harvesting system for the stable block, where weddings, parties and conferences are hosted; and an organic garden, with produce sold through Penpont’s own farm shop and locally to restaurants and cafes. In addition, Penpont uses sustainable material where possible for any new building work, including locally source Lime Mortar and sheep wool for insulation.
Gavin explained why wood heating was the ideal choice for Penpont. “We have our own managed woodland, making the fuel effectively ‘free’, apart from the cost of turning it into chips. Prior to the biomass system, this wood was unused and by managing our woodland in order to fuel the boiler, we have improved conditions for flora and fauna, creating greater bio-diversity. We had planned to add hydro-electricity into the mix, but unfortunately cut backs in the RHI have made this a less viable option.
About Euroheat’s biomass system:
The HDG Compact 200 wood chip boiler delivers 150kWs of heat, providing central heating and hot water to all the main buildings on the sites, via a district heating system. Wood fuel is sourced from the 200 acres of estate woodland, utilising poor grade timber and therefore enhancing greater biodiversity. In an average year, approximately 100 tons of timber is burned, equating to an annual saving of 66 tons of carbon deposits per year when compared with the equivalent use of oil.
The HDG Compact 200 wood chip boiler, is housed within an existing out-building, alongside a 4,000 litre accumulator, saving the owners £6,000 a year in fuel, compared with previous heating system and earning an RHI income of £22,000, paying for itself in four years.
“Apart from the benefits from an ecological point of view, choosing renewables and other sustainable measures makes financial sense,” said Gavin. “We’ve saved thousands of pounds a year on oil bills thanks to the biomass boiler, plus make considerable returns under the RHI. The rainwater harvesting system will eventually pay for itself owing to the number of guests that use our stable venue and the organic garden gives us a small income from the produce we sell.
“In terms of the affect ‘going green’ has had on business, some guests are interested, others less so. More importantly, people are starting to expect that hotels have taken steps to improve their green credentials; increasingly, this approach is becoming a necessity.”