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  1. Christmas & Sustainability Celebrations

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    Erthygl Gymraeg yma

    Ebbw Vale families were invited to a Christmas Celebration event at the EVI recently. We were marking the end of a yearlong sustainability project, improving energy efficiency at the historic building and involving and training volunteers from the community.

    In December 2018 the EVI received £32,523 from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme, a Welsh Government Programme managed by the WCVA. Over the year we’ve made improvements to the heating and lighting at the EVI, held a Plastic Pollution workshop with young people, created a bug paradise in the front of our building during a wildlife gardening workshop, trained volunteers in blog writing and creating videos creating a bank of sustainability articles on our website, and lastly a huge Christmas celebration with a sustainable twist.

    Driftwood christmas trees at Landfill Christmas celebration event

    An invitation to celebrate

    We invited people in the community to join us at the end of November to celebrate a sustainable Christmas with festive food and a pedal powered disco for the children, mulled wine and a mince pie for the parents, and workshops making Christmas goods from recycled materials.

    The 100 spaces we had on offer for the event filled up quickly. Entertainment was provided by the U3A (University of the Third Age) singing group, who sang and held singing activities for the children. The food went down very well, and every scrap was eaten, no wastage here!

    Pedal powered snowman at Landfill Christmas celebration event

    Powering a party

    Everyone loved the pedal powered disco, and the snowman, with the children keeping the music playing, the snowman inflated and the Christmas tree lights powered all night. People power!

    The workshops proved popular with everyone taking part, people loved taking home the Christmas trees and baubles they had made using driftwood and old pallets and learning a bit of pyrography.

    Two of the volunteers who had been part of our blog writing training came to help out. Jamie Lee and Victoria helped with the workshops and we loved hearing how Jamie Lee’s Planting Trees to Save the World article inspired them to plant trees in a woodland sanctuary.

    Llamau's pledge tree at Landfill Christmas celebration event

    Pledging to be greener

    Blaenau Gwent Council’s waste and recycling department also came along to give information and advice about weekly recycling collections.

    Llamau learners (who also took part in some of our previous workshops) came along with an interactive display. They asked people to make pledges for a sustainable Christmas and help the environment.

    “The learners had a really good time working together to make the display boards up, and they all learned something new about sustainability, and we hope these messages will be passed on,” said a Llamau Learning 4 Life tutor.

    There were some great pledges made and stuck onto the pledge tree. Here are just some of them:

    • – Use cotton carrier bags for my shopping
    • – I promise to us as less plastic as I possibly can
    • – Wrap all my Christmas presents in newspaper!
    • – I will recycle as much as I can
    • – Pick up the plastic at the beach

    People could also put in orders with Llamau for plastic free Christmas crackers and were given handy tips on environmentally friendly ways to wrap presents.

    Christmas tree pyrography at Landfill Christmas celebration event

    This is not the end

    Samantha James, Operations Coordinator at the EVi, was overjoyed with the success of the event and thought it was a perfect end to the yearlong project.

    “We’ve come to the end of this project and we’ve achieved so much here at the EVI,” she said.

    “We’ve helped raise awareness of biodiversity and environmental issues and our volunteers have been integral to this. They’ve helped us with our communication campaign. After receiving training with us some of them have gone on to help other environmental projects. The Christmas event was great to cap it all off by involving the whole community in what we’ve been doing here.

    And this is not the end for the EVI’s sustainability drive says Sam.

    “This has just been the beginning of the EVI becoming more sustainable and greener. We have learnt lots of new skills and information along the way and strive to keep up this good work”.

  2. Join Us To Celebrate A Sustainable Christmas

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    Erthygl Gymraeg yma

    Over the last few months the EVI has been doing lots to improve the sustainability of the building and the surrounding area. As we come to the end of this period of our special sustainability drive we’re inviting the residents of Ebbw Vale to join us in a Christmas Celebration and create some environmentally friendly decorations.

    On Wednesday, 27th November we invite all members of the community to join us between 4pm and 7pm for our Festive Family Fun event. There will be a pedal powered disco, a buffet for the kids and a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie for the parents. We’ll also have some fun recycling workshops turning driftwood into fun Christmas trees and creating Christmas baubles… and we’ll be doing all this for FREE.

    Festive Fun Day - a Sustainable Christmas

    The event is being held to celebrate the end of our sustainability project that has been running for the past few months with £32,523 funding from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme through WCVA. A load has been going on at the EVI as a part of this project.

    EVI light - a Sustainable Christmas

    The Light Fantastic

    The first thing we did was attempted to reduce energy consumption at the EVI. An energy review that had been carried out previously at the EVI highlighted where energy was being wasted the most in the building. The funding the EVI received allowed us to carry out improvements based on recommendations made in the energy review report. Lighting was a huge energy waster therefore some of the funding was used to convert all the lighting to LED, which uses 90% less energy. New eco driers that use cold air rather than cold air were also fitted in the bathrooms.

    Drafts and heating were also an issue in this large, historic building. Doors being left open, heating empty rooms and expensive electric heaters being used was a big issue. This was solved by fitting automatic door closers on all the doors, automatic controls were fitted on radiators and energy meters were installed. The portable electric heaters were banished as new energy efficient wall heaters were fitted with 10-minute timers. The air source heat pumps that were installed when the EVI underwent restoration over a decade ago were in dire need of repair works as they had become inefficient meaning that in the winter we had to rely on heating the building with a back up gas boiler. The fund allowed the repairs to take place meaning the EVI was once again being heated primarily through the energy efficient pumps.

    Bug houses - a Sustainable Christmas

    Community Spirit

    As a part of our sustainability project we wanted to involve the community by offering volunteering and training opportunities. The aim was to teach skills and inform the public about sustainability and what they could do. In April we ran a plastic pollution workshop at the EVI for Earth Day. Here we shared information about the prevalence of plastics in our lives and what we could do to cut down on this.

    In June we held a wildlife gardening workshop with Eggseeds to increase the biodiversity of the area. Young volunteers built bug hotels and made seed bombs. The colourful bug hotels take pride of place at the front of the EVI.

    Knowledge is Power

    An important part of the project for us is that we encourage people in the area to help us share the sustainability message. We invited those that were interested in helping us spread the word to attend two separate training sessions. The first was a blogging and video creation workshop. Attendees learnt skills on how to plan and create their own videos. They also, despite only having a day to fit in everything, managed to create the following video detailing all the work that had gone on at the EVI so far.

    The second session was a blog writing workshop. Attendees chose a subject that interested them and created a number of articles to promote the sustainability and energy efficiency message.  Articles included how to cut down on carbon, planting trees, sustainable tea and more. All these articles have been published on the EVI website. Check them out in the related articles below.

    Join us

    This Festive Fun event is our way of celebrating all the work that has been done and to keep spreading the sustainability message in a fun way by creating some Christmas goodies to take home. To reiterate – a pedal powered disco, buffet, mulled wine and mince pies – and did we mention it was FREE? Join us to celebrate and make by registering your interest here:

    Related articles:

    5 Steps To Live A More Sustainable Life

    5 Things You Can Do To Help The Earth

    The Ultimate Guide To Sustainabili-TEA

    Planting Trees To Save The World

    Easy Ways To Cut Carbon For The Environment

  3. Easy Ways To Cut Carbon For The Environment

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    Erthygl Gymraeg yma

    This article was written by Thomas Morris during a recent workshop held at the EVI. Community members volunteered themselves to create content focusing on environmental issues. During these video and blogging workshops they were taught the skills to create their own online content. This was all made possible with funding from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme. Check out the related articles at the bottom of the page.

    It’s tempting to think that it’s someone else’s problem to fix our totally screwed environment. But we all have a responsibility to show the powers-that-be that we care about our planet and the human race’s future existence. I’m going to show you some easy ways to cut carbon in your daily life.

    Rolls of material for cutting carbon article

    Make it your outfit of the day, every day

    Apparently some people only wear an outfit once! Considering the massive amount of energy and resources used by the textile industry, this is a terrible idea! Think about how much money you waste by only using something once. Re-wear all your clothes. Look stylish every day and send a message to fast fashion – this has to stop!

    Move greener

    There are many ways to make your day-to-day travel green. The great thing about greenifying your transport is that it improves the local environment as well as the global. However, this may require some legwork (ha!) in terms of the politics.

    • – Use you car less by using alternative methods of transport when you travel alone
    • – When thinking about moving house, consider the public transport and active transport potential of your location. Let housing developers know that you won’t buy a house if it’s not near a railway station
    • – Write to railway companies to ask for more and better bicycle parking at railway stations
    • – Instead of buying a second car, consider an electric bike
    • – Educate your friends eg. did you know that hybrid cars are not as environmentally friendly as advertisers would like you to think? Many are worse polluters than petrol cars. (but not diesel)
    • – Instead of buying your own car, consider joining a car sharing club for the times when you need a car
    • – Ask the Government to subsidise active and public travel more than they currently subsidise private car travel through cheap fuel, free parking etc.
    • – Work to make streets and towns liveable and walkable – if our hometowns are utopian, we’ll want to go on holidays less and therefore fly less
    Wind farm image for cutting carbon article

    Switch to a green energy tariff

    Whilst all energy on the National Grid is mixed together (they don’t know whether it comes from coal or wind power) you can choose to pay your bills to an energy company that only puts electricity into the grid from sustainable sources. 

    Change to LED and double-glazing

    But not if you already replaced your lights and windows recently. This will save money. This is what the EVI has been doing with funding from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme.

    Take a staycation

    Commit yourself to one return flight a year if you can help it. There are probably plenty of places in the UK that you have never visited. Consider a multimodal bike-on-a-train trip for yourself or pack up a car with your whole family and head somewhere new. 

    You’ll not be contributing to the erosion of famous places like Venice by tourism, and you’ll be contributing your hard earned pounds to British local economies that are often suffering.

    Divest and boycott fossil fuel

    Don’t put money in banks that invest in oil. Ask your school, company etc. to take stocks out of oil. Check what your pension is invested in.

    Prepare when shopping

    If you’re trying to reduce your plastic waste, you need to be prepared when you go shopping. Bring boxes and jars to the shop with you, this way you can buy things loose but keep them clean. You might spend less also by only buying what you came for.

    In order to further reduce car journeys you could consider cycling to the shop or ordering online. Businesses can even consider getting money off a cargo bike through the Energy Saving Trust.

    Steak with red cross over it for cutting carbon article

    Eat local and eat less meat

    Beef in particular is known as a big producer of greenhouse gases. Cutting down on meat such as beef, lamb and pork is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.

    However, even a vegan diet can end up costing the Earth if it’s all fresh produce being flown in from overseas. Look for food which is grown in Britain or at least Europe- this may mean adopting a more seasonal diet.

    Teach people how to recycle better

    Help the people around you to do better when it comes to recycling. If you know them well and they trust you then you’ll know how to get on their good side!

    Leave your lawnmower to rust

    Improve local biodiversity by growing your garden wilder- don’t mow or use grass. Here’s why:

    • – Obviously most mowers run on petrol or electricity, so that’s less fossil fuel being used
    • – You’ll be contributing to local biodiversity. In modern cities, bees, butterflies and many other insects will be looking for a place to nest. Your garden of delights – rather than a boring patch of cut grass – provides them with a handy home
    • – Letting your garden grow wild not only helps the planet but also functions as a local carbon sink
    • – Plant wildflowers using seed bombs and have a small pool – perhaps you could use an old tyre and tarpaulin to create a wet area for bugs. We did this at the EVI in our bugs and flower bomb workshop.

    So there you go, hopefully some of the tips above will help you to cut your carbon use and do your bit to help the environment. Just one person cutting their carbon use might not make much difference, but if we all decide to make these small changes then it can make a huge difference.

    Related articles

  4. 5 Things You Can Do To Help The Earth

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    Erthygl Gymraeg yma

    This article was written by a volunteer from a recent workshop held at the EVI. Community members volunteered themselves to create content focusing on environmental issues. During these video and blogging workshops they were taught the skills to create their own online content. This was all made possible with funding from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme. Check out the related articles at the bottom of the page.

    There are many ways to help the Earth. Some are efficient, and some are not.  This blog will show you the most efficient ways to help the Earth along with the reasons why they are efficient. 

    1. Getting serious about water 

    We use water everyday in our lives, some people use it more than others but that doesn’t matter.  If there are any noticeable leaks in your home then make sure to fix them as soon as possible to prevent any water loss and to improve your local environment. 

    Another essential thing you could do with the water in your household is to turn off any taps that are being unused. For example, some people leave the tap on while they are brushing their teeth – wasting water that could otherwise be put to good use. 

    Tips to save water from the Energy Saving Trust.

    2. Installing smart technology

    Installing a smart meter in your home will let you keep track of the energy you’re using and it’s cost. Seeing how much energy your actually using might encourage you to make changes and cut down on your energy use. A smart meter connects through your Wi-Fi connection and sends your energy usage to your supplier meaning you don’t have to submit energy readings yourself. This gives you a more accurate bill based on the energy you’re using rather than a guesstimate.

    Installing a smart thermostat can also help you cut down on your energy costs. This allows you to control the heating in your home through an app on your phone; you can be at work and connect to your smart thermostat to turn the heating down at home.

    Further information about smart meters and technology – Energy Saving Trust

    3. Energy efficient light bulbs 

    We all use light bulbs- we couldn’t see inside many internal rooms without them.  A way to help the environment is to use LED light bulbs instead of the old tungsten bulbs.  LED light bulbs are more efficient, can be easily replaced, last longer and they shine brighter too! 

    The lighting at the EVI has been replaced with LED thanks to funding from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme. Find out more here.

    4. Installing solar panels 

    Another way we can get energy is from the sun via solar panels.  Solar panels take heat and light from the sun and convert it to energy for our everyday usage.  Solar panels don’t produce energy at night due to there being no sun but energy that isn’t used during the day can be stored in batteries to be used during the night, or if there isn’t enough you can get still get your energy from the grid if you need it. Any solar energy you don’t use can be sold to the grid, which can make you a little money.

    Check out this How Solar Power Works in the UK information from uSwitch.

    5. Recycle and reuse 

    Recycling is a must if we want to save the Earth.  Recycling itself uses energy, so re-using is better where possible. There are two simple things you can do to start – reuse bottles to drink out of and ask your local council to add more recycling bins around town so that the oceans and local wildlife habitats can stay safe and clean. 

    You might find some ideas to reuse everyday items from this list on Recycling Guide – like using old clothes to create cushions or donating old egg cartons to schools.

    Related articles:

  5. Using Air To Heat the EVI

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    Darllen yr erthygl yn Gymraeg

    In an age where saving money and being aware of your carbon footprint is more important than ever, Ebbw Vale Institute has been through it’s very own energy efficient makeover.

    We’ve already told you about changing all the lighting in this historic building to LED lights after receiving funding from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme. In this article we’ll tell you about the changes made to improve draught exclusion and the heating source.

    EVI is a Grade II listed building ran by ProMo-Cymru. We are a landmark community venue dating back to 1849. We provide a programme of creative activities, learning and social enterprise developments. A variety of third sector organisations have settled into EVI and we welcome over 5,000 people a month.

    Banishing the drafts

    New automatic door closers were installed

    It’s inevitable that a big historic public building like this has draughts and this was a big problem when it came to the EVI’s energy bills. Doors were left open all the time so it took more energy to heat up rooms, empty rooms were being heated when it wasn’t needed and tenants were using electric heaters to warm their rooms.

    Following receiving £32,523 through the WCVA funded scheme we decided to use some of this to try banishing the drafts and improving the energy efficiency of the building.

    Automatic door closers were fitted on top of the doors. Automatic controls were fitted on the radiators, meaning they activate only when the room is occupied. This saves energy on unnecessarily heating an empty room.

    “We identified that the kitchen and the recording studio were the areas with the highest energy consumption,” explains Samantha James, Operations Coordinator at the EVI.

    “So we had energy meters installed and we took corrective action to reduce the power requirements in the kitchen.”

    Cold air and warm rooms

    Using cold air to dry hands saves energy

    The hand driers in the toilets were replaced with eco-driers, which use cold air rather than warm air. This should reduce energy consumption and reduce the use of hand towels.

    “Many of our tenants and hirers had been using electrical heaters to warm cold areas of the building. We’ve now installed energy efficient wall heaters which ensure safety and efficiency.” adds Samantha.

    “The heaters are on 10 minute timers and are invaluable when it comes to eradicating cold spots.”

    Using air to heat

    ProMo-Cymru took over the running of the historic building over ten years ago, saving it from demolition. The building went through a huge regeneration and energy efficiency was top priority back then too. Two state of the art air heat pumps were installed.

    The 40kW air source heat pumps were installed at the rear of the building and provided low-grade heat. These would work with the original cast iron radiators as well as installing SmartRads to keep the building warm. A gas boiler was also installed to supplement the heat pumps in extremely cold weather.

    Using air to heat the historic building saves money and energy

    Problems and solutions

    We carried out an inspection of the heat pumps when we were looking at making further energy efficiency changes and found that one was not operating. The pumps had been running at significantly different times on the compressors. There was a blocked condensate pipe with fluid leaking and the piping was too small and poorly insulated. The pumps were also operating at 50 degrees, which is expensive to run. It made up 41% of the EVI’s energy consumption.

    But we didn’t have the funds to fix these issues and repair the heat pumps, resulting in having to use the back up gas boiler in the winter. This caused a spike in energy usage, while the inefficient heat pumps were still running and increasing consumption further.

    “The funding received through the Landfill Disposal Tax Community Scheme came to the EVI’s rescue and allowed the repairs to go ahead,” says a relieved Samantha.

    “The EVI is once again being heated primarily through the energy efficient heat pumps.”


    Check out our other article looking at the changes made to the lighting at the EVI to help cut costs and become more energy efficient.

    This is a WCVA supported project made possible through the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme.


    If you’re interested in hiring facilities at the EVi then contact us to find out more.

  6. An Energy Efficient EVi: Lighting The Way Forward

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    Darllen yr erthygl yn Gymraeg

    It’s been a hive of activity at the Ebbw Vale Institute (EVi) recently with lots of energy efficiency works going on thanks to generous funding from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme managed by the WCVA. All work is now complete and we wanted to let you know exactly what we’ve been doing.

    EVi cafe for Energy Efficiency article

    The EVi is ran by ProMo-Cymru. We are a landmark community venue that provides a programme of creative activities, learning and social enterprise developments. We are home to a variety of third sector organisations, welcoming over 5,000 people a month.

    One aspect of the work to reduce energy consumption at this historic building was the lighting improvements, which we will look at in this article. We’ll also take a look at why LED lighting is a good idea for all homes and buildings.

    Light Improvements

    A massive 21%* of the EVi’s energy consumption went towards keeping all the lights on. It’s a big building so it needs a lot of light!  (*Results of an energy review carried out by REW)

    “Our lighting was out of date and inefficient,” explains Samantha James, Operations Coordinator at the EVi.

    “The fluorescent tubes were constantly shorting out, some of the diffusers were broken and we were continuously purchasing new bulbs.” 

    The main hall is the biggest space in the building. The space has been hired out for live performances, conferences, exhibitions, private parties, weddings and more. But two banks of lights in the main hall were not working, not a great look when hiring out the space to people! But the cost of replacing them was high, not just because they needed specialist bulbs, but also scaffolding had to be hired and specialised electricians had to be called in repeatedly to fit them.

    Funding Success

    A solution had to be sought, and the funding received from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme made this possible.

    “We used some of the £32,523 we received to source state of the art LED lighting for the hall,” said Samantha.

    “The scaffolding and works were organised and carried out with no disruption to any of the groups hiring the hall.”

    And it’s not just the hall that’s had a lighting make over. The entire buildings lighting has been converted to LED.

    The benefits of LED *

    LED, or a Light Emitting Diode, uses up to 90% less energy. While a traditional bulb produces a lot of heat to be able to produce light, an LED uses far less heat to do the same thing and is therefore much more energy efficient.

    Lighting can make up to 20% of your energy bills so you can make significant savings by switching to LED. They also last, about 20 times longer than a traditional light bulb, meaning you don’t have to keep popping out to buy bulbs and change them all the time. Another bonus is that LED bulbs are also recyclable, as they don’t contain mercury like some older bulbs.

    The good news for anyone who’s thinking of changing to LED is that there’s been a big reduction in prince since they first came out, and it’s not just spotlights anymore either. There’s now a wide range available, like bayonet, screw or strip lights even. (*Information source: 7 Reasons Why You Should Swap To LED Lighting – thegreenage.co.uk)


    Check back with us soon when we’ll be looking at the draught and heating improvement works that have been carried out at the EVi.

    This is a WCVA supported project made possible through the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme.

    If you’re interested in hiring facilities at the EVi then contact us to find out more.

  7. Increasing Energy Efficiency At The EVi

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    Erthygl Gymraeg yma

    The Ebbw Vale Institute is pleased to announce that we have received £32,523 funding from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme. This is a Welsh Government fund programme managed by WCVA.

    We will be improving energy efficiency at the EVi increasing the local biodiversity and involving the community through volunteering and sharing what we learn.   

    The EVi 

    The EVi is ran by ProMo-Cymru. We are a landmark community venue that provides a programme of creative activities, learning and social enterprise developments. We are home to a variety of third sector organisations including Barnardo’sBlaenau Gwent Youth ServicesLlamauLeeders Vale, Careers Wales and Learn About Us.   
     
    Over 5000 people a month visit us here at the EVi, with a wide variety of uses and users for this community building. Reducing energy usage in a large building like this creates major savings and helps reduce our carbon footprint. 

    EVi outside for Energy Efficiency article

    Improving the building

    This year marks the 170th year of the EVi. It’s been over a decade since ProMo-Cymru took over the running of the building. When we originally moved in, we knew that it needed a lot of work to improve the fabric of the building. From the very beginning we worked with the future in mind. We installed two state of the art ground heat pumps to make heating more efficient. Thanks to this fund, we will soon be implementing a number of other energy saving features. We will also be involving the community as volunteers to help increase biodiversity around the building.

    Energy efficiency and cost-saving may not sound very exciting to those using the building, but it is very important to all that goes on at the EVi. This behind the scenes work allows the EVi to continue to support the local community. Over the next year we will be asking volunteers and staff to share what makes it such a special place to work and play. We are also excited to get the young people who use the building to share what they are doing. We will broadcast everything over our digital channels. This ensures that everyone gets to see the work that ProMo-Cymru and the community does to develop sustainability in Ebbw Vale.


    This is a WCVA supported project made possible through the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme.

    If you’re interested in hiring facilities at the EVi then contact us to find out more.

Foundation Funders:

National Lottery Community Fund Logo
Welsh Government Logo

Current Funders:

Lloyds Bank Foundation Logo
Landfills Tax Scheme Logo
WCVA Logo
Blaenau Gwent County Council Logo
UK Gov Wales