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Home / News & Opportunities / Blog / June 2015 (1) / JAMES BRIDGES: HELPING GIRAFFES KEEP WARM

Date: 24/06/2015

The debrief meeting with a manufacturing client I had helped with energy savings was ending. We were both of cheerful dispositions with the respective 20% savings he had made on his electricity costs and heating system. I was enjoying a freshly brewed steaming coffee and munching away on cookie biscuits, when he asked me: “So, James, are all energy assessments you do for businesses similar or are there differences in the  recommendations you make?”

I replied, thoughtfully: “Well, it’s not every day you make a giraffe happy!” 

I got a slightly stunned look as my client choked on his biscuit. I went onto explain that last year I undertook an energy assessment at West Midland Safari Park (WMSP) and this involved looking at measures to improve the heating efficiency of buildings including animal enclosures and the giraffe building. In turn, this would mean the giraffes would be living in more comfortable accommodation!

“Oh!” laughed my client, as he exclaimed “tell me more?!”  I answered that WMSP have invested in a new biomass boiler to provide heating for the giraffe house to replace the inefficient Liquid Petroleum Gas (propane) heating system.   

I continued to explain that the biomass boiler is currently in the process of being installed and will run on locally sourced Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) approved wood pellets to help it be more sustainable. Other advantages include: a more balanced distributed heating output throughout the building making it more comfortable for the giraffes, reduced running costs and carbon emissions, and income generation - WMSP can benefit from the Renewable Heat Incentive for generating their own energy for space heating.

My client then asked me what other measures the Safari Park has taken forward. I explained they have recently won the Sustainability Award at the annual Chamber Awards for the measures they have or are looking to implement. For example, they have undertaken a broad cross-cutting approach to sustainability, including: utility monitoring with energy and water reduction targets, reducing waste to landfill, sourcing alternative energy, involved in a greener tourism scheme, supporting conservation of native habitat and species, sourcing more ethical and sustainable products, and promoting sustainability and conservation through education. 

More specific examples included: the Asian rhino house and the lion house make use of natural light through translucent roof panels which significantly reduces the use of electric lighting, solar panels have been installed on the Asian rhino house, LED lamp upgrades with light sensors are being installed across the site, and an air source heat pump provides space heating for the lorikeet bird enclosure.

I also mentioned to my client the reptile house could benefit from window film on the window panes to further reduce heat loss and improve heating efficiencies by the electric blower heaters and ceramic heat lamps that keep the reptiles nice and warm. I then joked I would not want to be the one installing the window film if the alligators were present!

I’m employed as the Resource Efficiency Adviser at the Chamber and deliver the Resource Efficient Worcestershire (REW) scheme.
I look forward to sharing more about the success of REW in my next blog post.
Thank you.

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James Bridges

Resource Efficiency Advisor

After leaving school James began his working life as a welder and fabricator of cargo containers at a major port. After a four-year stint in this field James chose to engage his interest in environmental issues, policy development and technologies by returning to University. After completing a BSc in Rural Resource Management at Bangor University, James went on to complete an MSc in Urban Governance & Development at the University of Birmingham. Further to working in India and Russia on socio-economic projects, James completed a PhD in Environmental Governance at Durham University. This extensive education experience has led to James to his current role via positions in both the public and private sectors. 

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