Dear <<First Name>>,
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Wirksworth Transition Community Land Trust

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Charity number 1178158
Newsletter 3 -  May-June 2021

Link to our website.
In this issue
Our local news
Retrofitting possibilities
Innovations in house construction and heating
A low-key retrofit
Why are we waiting?
Useful links

Builders in or near Wirksworth

We are about to send a letter or email to about 50 general builders within 5 miles of Wirksworth, asking them if they are interested in doing retrofitting work for us. We will follow it up with a phone call to get more information. We are hoping this will provide a database for members as well as us, for helping to find local builders willing to undertake energy efficiency work

Can you recommend to us any builders inside or outside five miles of Wirksworth?  Please let us know. We would like to talk to builders who people recommend, whether or not they have done retrofit work, but if they have done retrofit work for you, we are especially keen to hear.

And not just builders - any architects, designers, installers of energy-savers like heat pumps, insulation, PV panels, or anything else that makes your house more energy efficient. Please contact us on


Wirksworth Environment Hub

In April we joined a meeting called by Town Councillor Pam Taylor of all the groups in town who are involved with the environment including Transition Wirksworth, Peak Extinction Rebellion, Wilder Wirksworth, us, and many others. We agreed that these groups need a central point for sharing information and for providing information about us to residents. Transition Wirksworth has agreed to host the group on its website, and a WhatsApp group has been set up for sharing between the groups. More information is on the Transition website. (The page with links to the groups is being updated and may not be complete.)

One of the local groups, Churches Together, would like you to add your signature to agree a Statement of Climate Concern to show how many of us in Derbyshire Dales are Flag for CoP26seriously concerned about climate change. They are meeting our MP, Miss Sarah Dines, to discuss these concerns and to ask her to press the government for urgent action. They point out that we are in the build-up to the incredibly important international conference CoP26 being held in Glasgow in November and our government is hosting it.  The statement and how to give your agreement are available on the Wellspring website. Click here.

Our CLT Board needs help!

We are doing more work now, but with fewer trustees! If you are interested in the work we are doing, but don't want to commit yourself, you can find out more by talking to one of us or ask questions using email. We would like to know why you are interested and what skills you have.

You are welcome to attend some of our board meetings to observe how we work, to ask questions, and to join the discussion. You aren't committed to anything unless you decide you want to join us and we agree you will be a good addition to our informal team. We meet monthly, still by zoom at present, and we communicate in between by email or phone and sometimes with distanced discussions outdoors.

If you would like to help in some way, but not as a trustee, that would be fine too. We can discuss what aspects of our work are of interest to you and find some satisfying work or project for you to help with.

Contact us on


A project called C.H.E.E.S.E. standing for Cold Homes Energy Efficiency Survey Experts has been so successful that they have been awarded a substantial grant from the government to improve their project some more, and turn it into a franchise arrangement - then it can be set up all over the country and run more cheaply but to a high standard.

The survey process is based on a unique methodology developed by Brian Harper, who has been working with thermal imaging for 45 years and has surveyed over 400thermal image of heat loss in a house homes. Brian is a director of The CHEESE Project.

The project, a not-for-profit Community Interest Company, has been offering cheap or free surveys of heating loss in homes using a thermal imaging camera. Then they talk to the householder to say what measures can be taken. Sometimes it is really cheap things like putting in draughtproofing around windows and doors. Othertimes they recommend insulation.

Someone who had a CHEESE.survey, explains in this video how what it found helped him put in some cheap but effective heat-saving.

Maybe we should set up a franchise here with Belper and Matlock...

More about the project on their website


Here is an example of a voluntary organisation doing amazing things in Cumbria, a rural county like Derbyshire. The link below  is to the section on "For your home", but the website also has sections on Sustainable Living Guide, For Communities, and For Business, plus a section on their projects, which include an Advice Service, Following a real-life property retrofit in Appleby, Rebuilding Together to adapt to flooding and a Festival.
Click here.

These are just two local projects in the UK There are dozens more if you look for them online!
The major changes we face need many different ways of doing things. Here are just a few examples of some of the innovations that are being worked on that are relevant to homes.

Factory-made houses

What innovation? Aren't these prefabs - used after the war to house homeless families? That is often the perception, but with new methods and materials, they are entirely different.

The general rule of thumb is that prefab construction is cheaper than stick-built homes by an average of 10 to 25%. Why? Mass-produced materials on an assembly line cut down house being built in a factory costs because factories buy supplies in bulk. The cost of labor is also less because you don’t have to send carpenters, plumbers, and electricians to individual construction sites. And a faster build time saves money too.

Factories are springing up in a surprising number of places to develop MMC - modern methods of construction. Totally Modular makes the case. Click here.

Low carbon concrete!

What? How on earth? The concrete industry is well-aware of the unacceptably high carbon footprint of making concrete and is working hard to find solutions. Last year Cemex claimed a 70% reduction in emissions by introducing a new geopolymer cement solution, with an option for customers to offset the residual CO2 (by buying credits for projects like tree-planting, a discredited way to proceed)

Cemex launch Click here.

Meanwhile, there are practical ways at least to reduce the carbon emissions of concrete by using recommended practices:  Click here.

Carbon Coop Manchester.

Our power systems, our meters, and our homes are all getting Logo Energy Data Do-opsmarter. In this digital age, community energy is distinctly analogue, so here is a digital-first energy services co-operative: Carbon Coop (Manchester).  Click here.

Carbon Coop also helps home-owners undertake energy efficiency retrofits, If you prefer to find out more about their low-energy retrofits, try this: Home Retrofit planner project
Derek Trowell is a Wirksworth architect who embraced sustainable design and building techniques many years ago. He tells us about an unusual low-key retrofitting project he has undertaken of a croft on the Isle of Jura, Scotland.
Eader Luban
As a family, we stayed in this croft for at least 25 years from the 1980s. It was owned by Callum, a fierce Scottish Nationalist, who invited us to stay in his croft on one of our early visits to the island. The house was damp, drafty, with no heating save an open fire, and a very basic bathroom with a shower that occasionally worked. We had to go outside every morning to get from the bedrooms to the bathroom and living area. It was however a fantastic place to stay, with views to the Paps of Jura, Lowlandmans Bay and Small Isles Bay, and a standing stone within touching distance.

When Callum died several years ago, he left instructions with his family that we should still be able to stay. They didn’t share his passion for the house and stopped visiting. It was sold to someone on the island, which didn’t work out, and the house was abandoned and became uninhabitable.
Looking at it two summers ago, we felt sad at the thought it would probably end up being demolished and become a building plot. In the pub that night, two island friends suggested we should buy it. With no real thoughts on what we would do with it, or money to do anything, we stuffed a note through the owner’s door on the way to the ferry the next morning.
To cut a long story short, we now own it. It had no insulation, no damp proofing and was open to the elements and to the occasional sheep. We decided to make the building sustainable but in a low-key way. We did not aim to make it highly energy efficient, comfortable year-round, or with all mod-cons. We wanted to make it an example of how similar seemingly “beyond repair” vernacular buildings like this, of which there are many, can be saved.
So far, we have carried out some of the following:
* A new galvanised sheet roof with as much insulation (not much!) as would fit without raising the eaves and spoiling the proportions.
* Four sash windows “beyond repair” have been replaced to match but with thin double-glazing to improve performance wittout increasing the size of the glazing bars.

*The lean-to and the sort-of-bathroom have been re-built.
* The previous owner had removed most of the internal walls to the main house to create an open space. We might not have done that but since it was done, we can heat the entire living area and kitchen with a single stove with a back boiler and three radiators. It was never built with central heating in mind.

* Insulating and damp proofing the floors and insulating the walls would be prohibitively expensive and would also take away the charm of the original. But the stove and radiators will take advantage of a leaky envelope to draw air into the house and keep it dry by “letting it breathe”. Nothing will touch the walls – no fitted kitchen or cupboards – so nowhere to create damp. The floors will be a mix of ceramic tiles which will breathe or just masonry paint.
* The wiring will be surface fixed in galvanised trunking to avoid cutting into the historic stonework.
croft on Jura, Scotland
We could do more (heat pump etc.) but we cannot afford it and we are also keen to carry out the work within a budget that means it will not have cost more than it will be worth. Otherwise, it becomes a pointless exercise.
Work is in hand, but progress has been slower than we had hoped mainly due to Covid. It is now nearly habitable, and any sheep are outside.

gif of rabbit tapping fingers impatiently
The government announced a Heat and Buildings Strategy last summer to be published by the end of the year. At the end of the year it was delayed until "early in 2021". It is now the middle of May and we are still waiting.

It is one of the main reasons why no one can  easily do more than draught-proofing to retrofit their houses following the collapse of the Green Homes Grant. Read more about what the report will cover and why it is so important:  Click here.

Marches Energy Agency

Marches Energy Agency (MEA), working  closely with the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Local Authorities Energy Partnership (LEAP), is a registered charity and social enterprise, specialising in the delivery of practical, effective and creative ways of promoting and enabling energy reduction and renewable energy solutions. They are a great source of useful information on their website and publish an e-newsletter that you can easily sign up for.  Click here.

Centre for Sustainable Energy
Packed with useful information on home energy. Click here. - on the sustainable road to zero carbon
This website is another amazing source of information about what businesses and the government are doing to get to net zero. It also has e-newsletters you can sign up for.
Click here.


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