Greenhouse – Annual Report 2013/14

The Greenhouse Annual Report 2013/14

The Greenhouse


Norwich’s Environment Centre
‘Bringing people together to create sustainable living’

The Greenhouse building is owned by the Greenhouse Trust. The Greenhouse is a working model of how to environmentally retrofit an old (listed II*) building.

The building houses a shop selling organic, Fairtrade produce and an extensive selection of fine vegan, organic, biodynamic and low-sulphur wines.

The café and garden provide a place where people can meet, eat and study
in a relaxed and quiet atmosphere.

The Café food is organic, Fairtrade, vegetarian/vegan and made on the premises by staff and volunteers.

The shop and gallery specialise in quality second-hand books and contemporary environmental art

Celebrating 20 Years of activity

From November 2013 to November 2014 the Greenhouse Trust will celebrate 20 years of development and activity and explore what the future holds by staging exhibitions and activities linked to the regional and national Open Studios and Open Buildings events.

For two decades the Greenhouse has provided information on renewable technology and green building design to tens of thousands of people. Over the last 2-3 years the number of virtual visitors has grown exponentially as the Internet has enabled ‘visitors’ to view information online. The Trust’s decision to redesign the first floor of the Greenhouse for use as an Environment Art Gallery two years ago has become an exciting way of promoting sustainability.

The shows and exhibitions assist local artists by generating income, and the collaborations are already creating interesting spin-off projects as artists research the environmental issues that are required as both an underpinning and inspiration for the work.

Gallery 2013_14

Developing the future

Last year we used the new gallery space for a group show entitled ‘The Pollen Path’ which involved 12 artists and 7 writers. The exhibition explored both the threats to bees and the increasing impact of climate change on food production during the Open Studios events. We worked with the local Friends of the Earth ‘Bee Cause’ group in order to support the call for a ban on neonicotinoids.

This exciting new mix of information and visual imagery has also helped support our local fund-raising efforts. Our first online auction, in December 2012, raised our profile as a new environment gallery. We relocated the books (fiction) into the shop area, increasing the Gallery space upstairs and making auctions and events at the Greenhouse easier to host.

books 2013_14The Greenhouse sells non-fiction books every Friday and Saturday upstairs and fiction throughout the week downstairs. It also offers a wide range of titles online. This is a vital source of income for the Greenhouse and the Trust is extremely grateful for every donation made, small or large.

The funds raised by these sales help cover the cost of maintaining and running the building. During the year we have had some major donations of high quality books and CDs, plus a steady flow of small book donations (some kind folks even return the books they buy here).

Inspiring others

The Greenhouse is a member of the UK network of ‘Superhomes’. Superhomes are old buildings that have achieved major reductions in energy use. Tackling heat wastage from buildings is a key aspect of tackling CO2 production.

The flat on the top floor of the Greenhouse was calculated by the Sustainable Energy Academy (SEA) to have achieved energy efficiency savings of 88%. As part of our 20th birthday celebrations, we plan to stage a ‘Future Heritage’ event in September as part of the UK-wide historic buildings ‘Open Days’. These public events are promoted nationally by English Heritage and locally by Norwich HEART (Heritage And Regeneration Trust).

It is heartening that public views on renewable energy technology seem to have developed positively. The Department of Energy and Climate Change recently surveyed public opinion on renewable energy. Overall, the poll found that support for using renewable energy sources to provide the UK’s electricity, fuel and heat has hit 82%. Furthermore only 11% of the public oppose onshore wind farms (68% positively approve) and 76% support offshore wind, with just 7% opposed. However, there is still much to do and it is extremely disappointing to find that after 20 years of lobbying and promotion of renewable energy, very little has changed at a local planning level. Renewable technology is still discussed by city planners in terms of ‘eco-bling’ and two decades on, the City’s development plans include little in the way of decentralised energy provision.

The decentralised nature of solar energy helps cut large amounts of energy waste and demand from the grid and engages the consumer in understanding energy at home.

Solar systems generate electricity at less than half the C02 life-cycle costs for nuclear. The £240bn pledged in subsidies for new nuclear power stations in the UK is approximately £10,000 for each home in Britain. It has been estimated that overhauling the country’s housing stock could create over a million ‘climate jobs’. Yet, today there are 1.8 million families (representing over 5 million people) on council house waiting lists.

Storms ahead

” Earth has its boundaries, but human stupidity is limitless “ – Gustave Flaubert

The level of CO2 in the atmosphere has reached 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in human history. To put this in context, the last time levels were this high: global average temperatures eventually reached 3°C or 4°C higher than now; the polar regions were up to 10°C warmer; the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets were smaller; and sea levels range from between five and 40 metres (16 to 131 feet) higher.

Hitting 400 ppm reveals how far we have come from the pre-industrial levels of 280ppm. Not only are we moving into climatic territory that humankind has never experienced, we are still engaged in accelerating the process. Humans are altering the conditions within which civilisation has developed, and at a rate that seriously challenges our capacity to adapt. This process also generates unprecedented issues for every other life form on Earth.

The people with their foot on the accelerator are the dirty fuel and logging industries. The coal industry alone is responsible for two-thirds of recent emission growth. Massive coal expansions are planned in Australia, China and the U.S. which would lock in increasing emissions for decades. Much of this energy demand is fueled by the ‘need’ to produce consumer products – including for us in the UK. Stopping or scaling back these projects, and the unsustainable consumption that underpins them, is absolutely vital.


UK government plans to offer the nuclear power industry a 40-year subsidy continues to block any progressive move to decentralised energy provision. Not only will new nuclear reactors not generate electricity until at least the late 2020s, there is also no evidence to suggest that the costs and subsidies won’t continue to spiral upwards. This, along with the government’s dash for gas, (including shale gas) will mean millions more people in fuel poverty. Lack of investment in housing and building design will be revealed as having failed us all and the impact of new gas plants will mean that energy companies will be locked into CO2 generation until at least the middle of the 21st century. Fatal.

The Greenhouse

Administrative information

Educational Objectives
The principal objectives of the Trust are: to advance the education of the public in the efficient and effective use of energy, land resources, water, transport, waste recycling and other environmental issues to conserve and protect the environment in the United Kingdom and particularly in Norfolk to raise the public’s awareness in all aspects of energy and resource conservation.

Lord & Lady Joffe, Bruce Kent, Dr Mick Kelly, Marchioness of Worcester

F Abel, K Amos, M Charnley, A Ives, R Leaton

L French (Accounts), T Loudon, G Smith, Tigger

Co-Operative Bank Plc
P O Box 1011 Balloon Street
Manchester M60 4EP

Independent Examiner:
Peter Ellington FCCA
Peter Ellington Limited Norwich

Company Review 2013/14


High quality, organic, vegetarian, vegan food and gifts

For every £1 spent in an independent store, over 70 pence remains in the local area and circulates three to four times in the local economy. This compares with only 5 pence of every £1 spent in supermarkets. Small shops also better meet the needs of the disadvantaged, socially excluded and elderly, particularly those with poor mobility who cannot access distant shops. Not only has the dramatic increase in Internet shopping and the Government’s ‘austerity plan’ hit small and independent shops hard, money spent in a ‘multiple’ or supermarket is simply despatched onwards to other countries to avoid tax.

” Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing ”
Oscar Wilde

Presenting supermarkets as delivering choice, value and convenience, drives the relentless downward pressure on wages for the growers, suppliers and manufacturers, the insecurity of employment.

The profit and dividends made for distant shareholders do not circulate in the local economy and, as a consequence, local character and community are destroyed. Sir Terry Leahy, ex-boss of Tesco declared that the closure of small shops on the high street is “progress”. Clearly it is no such thing. £30bn of welfare and tax credit cuts is a calculated ideological choice when you consider that an equivalent £30billion of tax breaks has been made available to corporate businesses. Compare the £1.2bn benefit fraud bill with the £25 billion ‘lost’ annually in tax avoidance and £70 billion of tax evasion by large companies and wealthy individuals and the vested interests served by current policies become clear.

The All-Parliamentary Small Shops Group have warned that the relentless expansion of Supermarkets may well mean that the small independent retailer soon completely disappears from our streets.

Ultimately the fate of small shops rests with the commitment of local people to boycott supermarkets and to use their local shops as much as possible.

shop 2014

The Greenhouse stocks a range of vegetarian and vegan products which are organic and Fairly traded. All the products on sale, are about understanding the people and the places from where the produce originates. This makes shopping here a affirmation to both personal and planetary health and a commitment to people and communities all around the world.