This Franciscan Friary consists of eight buildings, heated with a central 200kW woodchip burner fed automatically from the chip store. 10,000 litres of water are heated and distributed through a community heating system into 17 controllable heat zones. Chips are supplied from local sustainably managed woods.
Since the beginning of December 2014 the Friary has been relying on the burning of biomass (woodchips) for its heating and hot water supply. Sceptics warned that there were likely to be significant problems with woodchip burning, but two years on the system has been working almost faultlessly. The fuel is fed automatically to the boiler which heats water in a 10,000 litre tank, which is then pumped to the different houses of the Friary. The whole operation is programmed to achieve maximum efficiency and can be controlled by laptop from anywhere within the site. The system is also monitored by both Bioheat in Gillingham and Eta in Austria, who can advise in the event of any fault. The design of the system and the supply of the Eta 200kW boiler has been undertaken by Bioheat, a specialist renewable heating firm based in Gillingham (Dorset), and this firm will continue to oversee its operation. The installation was by Amber Heating of Shaftesbury. From 2016 fuel will be drawn from the Friary’s own woodland and from the Dorset County Council woodland on the edge of the Downs just above the Friary, both sites being managed sustainably.
The insulation has also been upgraded: The large Recreation Hall has been internally insulated with 6" celotex on walls and floor. Another building has been externally insulated with celotex and wood cladding.
Other alternative energy and energy saving initiatives have been undertaken over the past seven years. The chapel roof holds 44 photo-voltaic panels which supply part of the electricity needs and feed into the National Grid. Two types of solar thermal installations have been fitted, flat plate and tubes.
We have two electric cars, a Nissan Leaf and a hybrid Outlander, with charging points. The friary has just received an award as part of the Eco Church scheme
You could combine your visit with participation in a weekend conference on "Just Living – Faith and Community in an Age of Consumerism". For details follow this link.
All this is not just about saving money and keeping warm, but arises from the Friary’s particular Christian and Franciscan insight of creation as a precious gift from God, and of nature as a community of creatures, animate and inanimate, of which we are a part. A world in which we live at peace, harmony and reverence with all around us is one which gives glory and praise to the Creator and Redeemer.
Just Living weekend (PDF, 479kB)