Sustainable Venue or Space

Newydd Housing Association / Eggseeds -The Solar Powered Bench

Wales first solar powered digital bench, providing a safe, comfortable and accessible space for all

Working with local disengaged young people and 13 partner organisations; Scott Tandy, Community Regeneration Officer at Newydd Housing Association and Sam Holt, Community Educator at EggSeeds, led a truly collaborative project in Rhondda Cynon Taff with multiple benefits.

The innovative idea first came about from members of Rhydyfelin Youth Club. They began developing their woodwork skills during training with Eggseeds and identified the problem of charging a phone when out and about and wondered whether a station such as a solar powered bench could assist.

With support, they developed the concept, looked at the challenges and explored the digital bench idea in the wider community context. Suddenly the disengaged young people started working alongside local residents, homeless people, church members, local PCSO’s, builders, contractors, industry leaders and it gave them all a chance to break down barriers and stigma, they could see each other’s world and connect through this project.

The completed wooden bench acts as a shelter for local residents. It has a solar panelled roof that stores power and allows the public to charge devices through one of two USB ports. The trellis on either end of the bench will be used to grow fruit bearing vines such as strawberries or tomatoes, while the wooden planters will be used to grow root vegetables. The guttering acts as an irrigation system, diverting water away from the bench and to the planters.

The skills, confidence and experience gained through this project enabled some of these young people to gain qualifications, access to work or further education and apprenticeships. They also gained valuable memories, proving that they can be committed, they were part of something unique, something that others are talking about. This has boosted their self-esteem and has become a new starting block for whatever comes next.

The project is now exploring options within Newydd Housing Association and partners to form a social enterprise to tackle social issues, provide training and collaboration opportunities for young people and adults as well as social enterprise development opportunities built into the scheme. We are excited for the future!

You can watch a video about the project below:

LINC Cymru – Growing Green Spaces

Reimagining the relationship between social housing and its environment

Growing Green Spaces / Mannau Gwyrdd Yn Tyfu’ is a project developed by Linc Cymru Housing Association (Linc) and funded in partnership with Natural Resources Wales.

The project works with communities and partners to develop, use and increase their access to high quality, bio-diverse green spaces and to improve overall health and well-being. The project has been supporting numerous communities in South Wales from Aberbeeg to St. Mellons across a range of projects including community gardens, and biodiversity projects.

The project embedded in the Well-being of Future Generations Act, aims to improve green spaces in two ways. One through supporting communities with advice, funds, contacts, enthusiasm and permission to re-engage and use land around them to benefit their well-being via community gardens, biodiversity projects and even licensing unused car parking spaces to tenants to develop a safe garden and play space for local residents. The other is working with development and executive teams to plan high quality green space into new developments and to facilitate organisational change. Recognising the potential for housing associations to benefit future generations with such work the project ends with a conference drawing on expertise of our partners.

SPECIFIC, Swansea University / BIPVco – Active Buildings

Pioneering the future of sustainable spaces

Project Lead: SPECIFIC, Swansea University
Collaborating partners: BIPVco

At SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre, we are developing Active Buildings, which generate, store and release their own heat and electricity from solar energy. Buildings account for 40% of carbon emissions in the UK, so by developing innovate solar technology, and driving forward our ‘Active Buildings’ vision in the construction sector, we can help the UK achieve its net-zero emission goal by 2050.

Active Buildings connect solar technologies into one, integrated system that captures heat and electricity from the sun and stores it within the building. We have demonstrated the ‘Active Building’ concept works in various building uses: including a warehouse that has run without gas since 2016, a classroom that generates more energy that it consumes, and most recently, an office that is also designed to be energy-positive. Some of the technologies are developed here by our research teams, who specialise in scale-up of technology from the lab to full-scale buildings; and we also work with a wide range of partners, such as the supplier of the integrated photovoltaic roof, BIPVco, to promote early commercialisation of renewable energy technologies.

[SPECIFIC IKC is led by Swansea University and funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Innovate UK and the European Regional Development Fund, through the Welsh Government].