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Eco Guest House in Snowdonia

Nestling at the foot of the Moelwyn mountains, Bryn Elltyd is a guest house with lockable storage for bikes and other gear.

What makes it special is its astonishing success in winning awards for eco sustainability, including, in 2014, the Considerate Green Hotelier Award, which last year was won by the Savoy hotel, London, no less!

John Whitehead who, together with his wife is joint proprietor, writes:

Bryn Elltyd eco guesthouse, 700ft up in Snowdonia has made it to the last 3 in the prestigious Considerate Hotelier awards. This national UK competition examines the sustainability and green ethos of, usually much larger hotels. Ceilia and John’s tiny 3 star, 6 bedroom, guesthouse are on a shortlist of 3. Pitted against the likes of the Best Western Hotel chain’ hotel in Suffolk. It does not worry them, last year they competed in the awards against large 20 bed, 5 star hotels. They won and sat next to the Savoy green team to discuss carbon reduction.

Green does not mean compromise as Bryn Elltyd shows. Wi fi, sauna, 3 electric car charge points etc. It is all carbon neutral, all energy comes from renewable. Having had solar panels since 1983 John and Ceilia like to think they tread lightly on the land for their grandchildren. Many organizations discuss climate change and carbon reduction, but this business has acted and runs only on renewable energy.

Heating uses a local wood bye product that is turned to gas and burnt at 900c. Amazingly for a house up a Welsh mountain it has computer inter-grated solar panels that work to make hot water. Other solar arrays make 240v electric. All the work has been done by John or by employing local engineers.

Rain can be a welcome resource here. It is harvested to flush loos and water the garden and there are also two commercial hydro plants within 200m. Sewerage goes through 3 natural biological chambers then a small reed bed and into a duck pond, with ducks. John says " Don't panic the system is smell free and the loo flushing is normal. Bryn Elltyd was built in 1883, had an out side tap in 1983 and has now evolved into carbon neutral. It has been a long adventure using my 25 years experience of teaching technology and engineering. High tech solar integration works, as does low tech conservatories, soaking up the heat into 39inch thick walls and vents to put this warm air into the house. Together with my wife Ceilia we did what most parents dream about. The children went off to uni so we put the house on the market, sold up and moved to this stunning area where we used to holiday. Take care in the Hobbit room, lined with cozy sheep’s wool, turf roofed and dug into the mountain. It has had two marriage proposals in it so far……..

Demonstrating that refined zero carbon is a choice guests can take. All energy inputs are from from renewable energy sources. Many organisations talk of climate change and reducing their carbon foot print. We have set a zero target for emmissions and reached it. That includes the heating, lighting, sauna, 3 electric car charge points, kitchen. all electric is made on site or from UK renewable sourses. There are 2 local hydro station within 200m of our mountain retreat. All enenergy input from renewables.

We harvest the rain water, filter and use it for loo normal loo flushing. after that loo waste is treated biologically then a small reed bed and our duck pond. No smell, no electrics and native brown trout live in our duck pond. our own ducks on top.

We harvest our own wood for dining table, coffee tables, window sill, flower beds, structural timber and fire wood. We hold about 15t of firewood seasoning. Guests relish a blazing log fire. The difference here is the log burner is expensive, very high efficiency and can be intergrated into room thermostats / remote control and is burns very nicely and uses about a third the wood of a normal wikes log burner.

Combine this with cunning building work to intergrate our 39inch thick stone walls that come from quarry 30ft away. Massive insulation is vital. as is using two conservatories to soak heat into stone walls then vent the warm air into the house. Original 1883 slate floors help as thermal mass."