Welcome To The Greenhouse
Norwich’s Environment Centre
‘Bringing people together to create sustainable living’
Organic Cafe Garden Bookshop
Environment Art Gallery
Charity No: 1037992
ANNUAL REPORT ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION 2014
Charity name: Greenhouse Trust
Established by Trust Deed – 11 May 1994
- 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.
Charity registration number: 1037992
42-46 Bethel Street Norwich NR2 1NR
Lord & Lady Joffe
Dr Mick Kelly
Marchioness of Worcester
Margaret Charnley (chair)
The Greenhouse building is owned by the Greenhouse Trust, which provides a working model of how to environmentally retrofit an old (and listed grade II*) building.
The building houses a shop and café selling organic, local, Fairtrade produce and an extensive range of fine quality bio-dynamic and low sulphur wines which assist us in promoting organic growing, species biodiversity and the benefits of living healthy sustainable lives.
The café and garden provide a place where people can meet, eat fresh, homemade food and study in a quiet, relaxed atmosphere. The bookshop and gallery specialise in quality second-hand books and contemporary environmental art.
The Greenhouse has a gallery space on the first floor, which is used to display visual art work, including poetry and written words in formats that explore the many issues linked to climate change. Exhibitions are themed to encourage collaborative work and to develop both new audiences and ways of working.
The Trust seeks to develop links with artists, scientists, writers and those who are engaging with the environmental impacts of climate change, now and in the future.
Increasing the public access information and images from our website. It is continually updated to promote and link the many local, national and international issues that underpin all our work in the building.
The Gallery has hosted a series of themed exhibitions. In 2013 we staged ‘The Pollen Path’ exploring the plight of the bee in the context of the economic and environmental impact of neonicotinoids on the process of pollination. We worked with Friends of the Earth, who are part of a wider Bee Coalition (Friends of the Earth, Buglife, Client Earth, Environmental Justice Foundation, Natural Beekeeping Trust, Pesticide Action Network, RSPB and Soil Association). The impact of neonicotinoids is increasingly understood as posing a major threat to a wide range of invertebrate species in soil, vegetation, aquatic and marine habitats. Supporting and promoting organic and bio-dynamic agriculture is a major aspect of our trading activity and practical education work.
The feedback from visitors and the artists involved then developed the idea of ‘Swarm’ as a theme for work that allowed the visual artists and writers to look at the behavioural patterns of a range of species, including humans. These ideas resulted in an exhibition in May 2014 with the title ‘Flight’. ‘Flight’ sought to communicate wider issues around resource conflicts, oil and fossil fuel wars, human and species migration and the complexities of global warming. This was particularly pertinent in the wider context as the Middle East and Eastern Europe were in increasing states of turmoil.
Following on from the success of ‘Flight’, the Greenhouse is organising ‘Melt’, a design completion and a series of co-ordinated events to help us increase the profile of the Gallery, and to increase and develop the relationships with have with visual artists and writers. With the support of our patron the Marchioness of Worcester, we are planning to establish a new Climate Art Fund. It is hoped that the Fund will provide the Greenhouse with funds to create exhibitions that will link into next year’s Norwich Festival and Open Studios and allowing us to contribute to the Norwich and Norfolk biennial festival of architecture (2015).
The Greenhouse is a member of the UK network of ‘Superhomes’. Super homes are old buildings that have achieved major reductions in energy use. 27% of CO2 emissions are generated as a consequence of heating building in the UK, which has some of the least efficient housing stock in Europe, with the related implications for energy use and fuel poverty. During September 2014, the Gallery is organising an exhibition of specially-commissioned images of the Greenhouse building. This will be the final show in our calendar of 20th anniversary celebration events.
The flat on the top floor of the Greenhouse was calculated by the Sustainable Energy Academy (SEA) to have made efficiency savings of 88%. The building opens periodically to promote retrofit design using low embodied carbon materials, renewable technology and practical design ideas. These public events are promoted nationally by SEA. The Greenhouse also takes part in Heritage Open Days with a particular interest in presenting ‘Future Heritage’ ideas.
RENEWABLE ENERGY –
THE POLITICAL CONTEXT
Public views on renewable energy technology remain positive The Department of Energy and Climate Change recently surveyed public opinion on renewable energy. Overall, the poll found that support for renewable energy sources to provide the UK’s electricity, fuel and heat has hit 85%. It is also heartening to know that only 11% of the public oppose onshore wind farms (68% positively approve) and 76% support offshore wind, with just 7% opposed.
The public is widely enthusiastic for a ‘Green Deal’ but there is little sign that any political party will rise to the challenge. The initial Ministerial remit for the Green Deal was ‘whole house refits of fourteen million homes within the decade’. As of May 2014, fewer than 1,500 finance packages had been signed for a scheme that seems to have been designed for PR and not climate action, alongside the withdrawal of both subsidies for insulation and Feed-In-Tariffs, which successfully encouraged a market for solar panels being withdrawn. It is even worse at a local government level: town planners continue to prioritise development and buildings that design-in fossil fuel use, locking households into future fuel poverty, and the UK into increased carbon demand. Despite local cross-party proclamations of Norwich in Transition’ there is no strategy to decentralise energy away from the ‘big six’ utilities, and the endless list of missed planning opportunities continues to grow.
Conversely, central government’s enthusiasm for shale gas extraction ‘fracking’ has been loud and enthusiastic and sits in stark contrast to the clear environmental and social benefits of decentralised solar energy. It is no surprise that government listens to the fossil fuel lobby, who have the ear of policy makers, with many interns within key Government departments. Despite solar costs falling by 30% in eighteen months the government has instead initiated four reviews in three years, leaving investors and developers struggling to deliver the necessary step-change in energy infrastructure.
UK government intentions to offer the nuclear industry/centralised energy system a 40-year subsidy for nuclear power continues to block any progressive move to genuinely sustainable energy provision.
Not only will new nuclear reactors not generate electricity until at least the late 2020s, there is no evidence to suggest that the costs and subsidies won’t continue to spiral up. The parallel ‘dash for (shale) gas’ means that the large energy corporates will be locked-in to CO2 generation until at least the middle of the 21st century.
The decentralised nature of solar energy (hot water & electricity) helps cut large amounts of energy demand from the grid and homes. Solar systems generate electricity at less than half the C02 life-cycle costs for nuclear, and if money were channelled into the creation of markets and R&D, rather than into further subsidy for the nuclear industry, then further innovations and efficiencies could be expected. 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’ – skilled, valuable jobs and not just zero hours contracts and call centres. Converting old/large/empty buildings would go a long way to tackling the 1.8 million families (representing over 5 million people) that are on current council house waiting lists.
Visualising the changes that a decentralised energy system will bring to our homes and cities is a key challenge for the Greenhouse and associated artists. The successful Meeting of Parties of the Convention (MoP) on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context, also known as the Espoo Convention took one of the most significant decisions in European environmental history. The requirement of assessment of economic comparability to renewable energy will be as important as the competition regulation ruling in revealing that solar energy and community owned wind-power can, and should, be the drivers of the green economy.
In the words of Julia Davenport, founder of Good Energy:
“We don’t have to do it the same way as we’ve always done it. We can change the way we run our economy; we don’t have to run it the way we’re running it now. One of the biggest changes of a decentralised energy economy is the you wouldn’t have six big powers, you’d have lots of people, and we as a society need to get comfortable with that. My view is that it could happen very fast. It’s not about technology any more. It’s about people”. (Guardian 20.05.14).
TRADING WITH PEOPLE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
We offer volunteers and ‘Friends’ of the Greenhouse 10% discount on their shopping and have delivered a generous amount of essential health-food items to the local Food-Bank, via St. Peter Mancroft Church. Whilst Food Banks are an indictment of an uncaring government, we thank all our customers who have very generously supported the Norwich scheme to enable provision of emergency food boxes for people on vegetarian and other health diets. This has also created an opportunity to explain how small shops can better meet the needs of the disadvantaged, socially excluded and elderly, particularly those without mobility who cannot access distant shops.
Presenting supermarkets as delivering choice, value and convenience, ignores the consequences of driving down income and wages for the growers, suppliers and manufacturers, the insecurity of employment and the fragility of a ‘just in time’ supply chain. 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 are as much of a choice as £30bn of tax breaks to corporate businesses. When you compare the £1.2bn spent on benefit fraud, against £25 billion ‘lost’ annually in tax avoidance and the £70 billion in tax evasion by large companies and wealthy individuals, then the vested interests being served by current policies become clear. For every £1 spent in an independent store, over 70 pence of it remains in the local area and circulates three to four times in the local economy, compared with only 5 pence from supermarkets. Money spent in a multiple or supermarket is simply despatched onwards to other countries, often to avoid tax. The profit from dividends and shares does not circulate in the local economy and, as a consequence, local shops, character and community are destroyed.
Ultimately the fate of small shops rests with the commitment of local people to boycott supermarkets whenever possible, and to use their local shops as much as possible. Whilst the value of workers’ wages in the UK falls, corporate profits have increased as a share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 13% in the mid-70s to 21% today.
As the Nobel Prize winning economist Josef Stiglitz points out, “we must end the privatisation of profit and the transfer of debt onto the public purse”. In the years between 1918 and 1961, the UK national debt was over 100% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Yet, during that period, the government introduced: the welfare state, the NHS, state pensions, comprehensive education, built millions of council houses, and nationalised a range of industries including energy and railways. All in an era of post-war austerity. Public spending is an investment, not a debt.
As we enter a new financial year, we have a lot to look forward to – we have established a new avenue for communication through the Gallery, and its reputation and scope is growing. We are enormously grateful to Stephen Fry for his tweets which have helped promote our work. As ever we thank the many people who continue to donate second-hand books and CD’s to the Greenhouse to help raise funds to keep the building running.
This year we have embraced the challenge of diminishing grant funding through innovative new approaches such as an art auction planned for later in 2014. We have successfully added a new online giving facility on our website, and have introduced a scheme for becoming a Silver or Gold Benefactor of the Greenhouse, which is both easy and a great way to help the Greenhouse plan for the future. We are a small charity so every single donation counts.
We would like to thank all our customers and suppliers: what we buy, eat and drink is ultimately what we are. Each of the products on sale in the Greenhouse supports growers, co-operatives and projects all around the world. Our special thanks to Tom for continuing to select our organic and bio-dynamic wine stock, and for running excellent educational wine-tastings. And our thanks also to Tigger, Sylvia and Frankie who’s activities underpin everything the Greenhouse is and does.
As with all the products on sale here, understanding the people and the places from where the produce comes, means that shopping here becomes an affirmation of commitment to both personal and planetary health, to which we heartily and equitably raise our glass to toast the hundreds of volunteers who have joined in and supported the activities across the year.
On behalf of the board