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by Robert Kyriakides
Date added: 2006-10-09 02:06:28 Filesize: 55
Genersys Solar Panel installation.
Date added: 2006-10-09 02:06:28 Filesize: 70
Genersys solar panels.
Date added: 2006-10-09 02:06:28 Filesize: 142
Burton Townhall
Date added: 2006-10-09 02:06:28 Filesize: 37
Management software controls your heating through your PC.
Date added: 2006-10-09 02:06:28 Filesize: 416
Screen shot of software controlling heating for Burton Townhall.
Date added: 2006-10-09 02:06:28 Filesize: 66
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When it comes to dealing with global warming and climate change most of us who understand the issues and are concerned for the future feel helpless. Whatever we do to modify our actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will be a small step on a long journey to sustainable energy. It would be easy to give up and say that the problem is too large for us to handle. It would be easier still to deny that the problem exists.

Heating Managment
We need good leadership on these massive issues because the issues that we have to deal with in modern times are simply too complex, too numerous and too profound to enable us as individuals think out an original standpoint on each of them. We can only examine the arguments and the evidence supporting the arguments.

Good leadership is never "do as I say". It is really "do as I do". When we see how our leaders behave with their own environmental behaviour, we copy them.

Leadership at local government can often be more influential than leadership from central government. At local government councillors and officials inevitably mix more intimately with the electorate than their equivalents at central government. Constituents meet their councillors in the street, ring them at home; they socialise with them.

Councillors and Council Officers are at the pit face of understanding what society wants. In face-to-face terms, they are hugely accountable.

In East Staffordshire, the town of Burton upon Trent is a very interesting place to visit for two good reasons; it dates before the Norman Conquest and it is the brewing capital of England. East Staffordshire Borough Council wanted to provide leadership on environmental issues. The Council commissioned a solar thermal water heating system for its Town Hall after considering the engineering projections and reports that estimated that 70% of the Town Hall's hot water could be provided by solar.

The many people who work and meet at the Town Hall now use hot water provided mainly without contributing to global warming. Their decision will not by itself solve the issue of climate change but it will be yet another step on the way.

Paul Bridges, Facilities Manager for the Council and the initiator of the project, connected the Genersys controller to his building management software and now monitors the solar installation from his office in the Town Hall. He tells us that he is very pleased with the results, so far. He can show how much energy is being provided and can calculate the fossil fuel saved. The carbon dioxide emission that will be saved over a whole year's use will be more than the normal CO2 output of four average homes - another small step on the journey.

The Council has very limited budgets for projects like these, which have a payback that we calculate to be between six and eight years and thereafter the energy will be free. Six or eight years payback might be considered by some to be too long, but for a product that will last over 25 years it is respectable; after all, the conventional energy companies do not offer any pay back when you use their fossil fuel, not even over a lifetime.

By putting a solar hot water system on the Town Hall, East Staffs has provided leadership; in the clearest terms it has said "do as we do" and not "do as we say". Perhaps now, some of their famous brewers will look to solar as a means of heating the large amounts of water they use in brewing their excellent products, especially as there are enhanced capital allowances available.

We must travel the journey to sustainable energy, step by step, one step at a time.

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