Sustainability at the Royal Oak, keeping it green
In 2021 The much-loved Royal Oak Hotel in Borrowdale was passed on to new owners. The buildings date back 300 years are stone built and reflect the construction methods of that era. There is little we can, or indeed would wish to do, to alter this as therein lies much of the charm of the hotel. However, as part of the refurbishment programme we have started to make steps on the road to creating a more eco-friendly and sustainable site – a fact already recognised by the award of Booking.com green leaf (level 2) for sustainable travel.
During the refurbishment we made a conscious decision to incorporate the best sustainability trends and initiatives within the hospitality industry.
We upcycled and restored many of the original pieces of furniture to give them a fresh lease of life and to help retain a traditional Royal Oak feel to the rooms and public areas. With a strong emphasis on collaboration with local artisans and suppliers, the new soft furnishings have been carefully chosen for a natural and authentic feel, soft woollen curtains, throws, cushions and bespoke carpets. The dining room was furnished with cherry wood tables made from the reclaimed flooring of the old Ogden’s Liverpool cigarette factory. The pillows and duvets are from recycled plastic bottles creating feather-like vegan down. Where it has been necessary to source items from overseas, we have tried to use fair trade suppliers or co-operatives.
We have to accept that there are constraints related to the site – the buildings are solid stone built long before cavity walls and insulation were considered. The site is very restricted limiting the options for on-site renewable energy, and the location in the National Park brings added restrictions. However, working within the inherent restraints we have made the first steps on the way to a more sustainable building.
- The old diesel-powered heating system and kerosene based hot water system have been removed and a new high efficiency LPG boiler and water heaters have been installed. The water heaters store a minimal amount of hot water, but heat rapidly ensuring that less energy is wasted in storing hot water, but when required, the water is always available.
- The kitchen that operated with a kerosene fuelled AGA has been replaced by a modern all electric kitchen.
- All the lighting system has been replaced with LED lighting.
- Insulation has been added to loft spaces and all the water pipes.
- An electric vehicle car charger has been installed allowing two cars to charge simultaneously.
- We have fully offset the carbon footprint of the LPG by buying carbon credits – all the carbon mitigation projects comply with either the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) or Gold Standard (GS), which are approved under the ICROA Code of Best Practice.
- We have selected a fully renewable electricity supplier.
These steps have already made a difference and we have calculated that the following improvements have been made:
- CO2production has been reduced by 55% equivalent to 36 Tonnes per year – and that which is produced is fully offset.
- NOx production has been reduced by 99%
- Particulate production has been reduced by 98%
- CO reduction is 63%
Those reductions are in addition to those that the guests manage themselves facilitated by us, by accessing our amazing location using electric vehicles.
Whilst A major part of our efforts has focussed on energy types and usage, we have also made a commitment to source locally where possible – this is good for the local economy and the environment. Examples of local sourcing:
- Food suppliers are primarily Lakeland based – eggs come from the valley, meat and produce from Cockermouth and Carlisle
- Our beers come from Tirrils based in Cumbria and we offer Lakeland gin
- Coffee comes from Farrers in Kendal
- Toiletries are locally produced in Sedbergh – and we have moved from single use products
- Even our signage and water fountain came from the Honister slate mine just up the road
We have started on our journey to a more sustainable hotel, but we are not complacent and will continue with our efforts.