We are committed to the Longhouse as luxurious holiday home in a sustainable and socially responsible way, minimising our impact on the environment, and with care and thought given to every aspect of its operation.
Though sometimes called the ‘eco-house’ locally, our actions will always be meaningful and relevant, driven by a desire to do the right thing, not just to tick ‘eco-boxes’. Our values underpin our behaviour. They are not an afterthought. From the design of the house to the soap our guests wash with, we aim to have as low an environmental impact as possible whilst still giving every consideration to the needs of our guests and the most comfortable living space.
Our commitment is underpinned by 6 principle action areas: (click on tabs for more )
Reduce our consumption of resources and minimising the amount of waste:
- The building design incorporates energy efficient features such as solar gain heating and fully insulted building and low thermal loss windows, all contributing to our ‘AA’ EPC rating, a first for the islands.
- Monitor to minimise – weekly tracking of power generation/usage as part of the UK Feed In Tariff scheme
- We minimise energy use as checked by the 'Energy Isles' project by e.g. using LEDs, switching off, managing water heating and ensuring room stats are set appropriately.
- An air source heat pump uses external ambient heat energy for heating and hot water.
- All taps and shower heads are 'low-flow' or aerated to save water but still ensure you'll always get a decent shower! Our kettle can boil just a small amount of water for a single cup of tea!
- ‘Bag for life’ provided to guests for their shopping whilst on Lewis and when they get back home.
- We encourage guests to explore the surrounding area which is accessible by foot or bike straight from the door, with lots of local OS maps, walking/cycling route guides and wildlife guides.
- We are on the local bus route and timetables are provided, encouraging guests at minimum to leave the car behind for a night out in Stornoway!
Reuse materials as much as is practical to extend their useful life.
- Linens or crockery which have served their purpose for guests but are still good quality are donated to local charities or used by ourselves at home!
- We have moved to rechargeable batteries wherever possible in appliances for the house.
- We avoid disposable items and choose alternatives e.g. in bulk buying or providing full-size shampoos and liquid soaps which can be refilled for guests and picnicware which can be used over and over.
Recycle products to recover and reuse the components, materials and energy
- We actively encourage separation of waste and participation in all Council recycling opportunities on this island location, separating waste into our clearly labelled recycle bins. In fact our recycling bins are often so full, our guests are clearly doing their bit!
Share – to think and act in a more considerate and constructive way.
- Inspire our guests to make one small change. We believe 100 people making 1% change will have more impact than 1 person making a 100% change.
- Use local and fairtrade suppliers and seasonally available foods; encourage guests to do the same
- Support our community wherever possible by using local producers, restaurants, pubs, cafes, promote local tourist attractions, shops, cultural events.
- Provide local information to guests and support local businesses, to keep money local.
- We listen to feedback and new ideas from our guests and hope they can also help us in our efforts to conserve energy.
- In addition to being members of industry associations, we also support the Green Tourism Business scheme and the 'Tourism is for Everybody' campaign.
- 4KW PV panels, significant insulation way beyond that which is required, 8.5kw ASHP, minimum 'A' energy-efficient appliances and low energy LED light bulbs throughout the house for low energy consumption.
- We now have an EV chargepoint at the Longhouse so guests who are travelling in an electric/hybrid car can recharge, making use of PV energy if done daytime.
- Use natural, recycled or sustainably sourced materials wherever possible – recycled paper products and eco-cleaning materials
- The house construction is primarily of wood, built by local contractors, with some elements sourced locally. Use of high energy cement and mortars was kept to a minimum in foundations and stone work only where other options were uneconomic.
- We’ve taken advantage of natural light and heat from the sun through large areas of highly insulated glazing to the south, east and west.
- Guests are encouraged to heat water and use appliances such as the washing machine, daytime, when PV panels mean we are generating it ourselves.
- A highly efficient multi-fuel stove takes its combustion air supply directly from the outside to avoid draughts and firewood is sourced locally from managed woodland.
Offset the net energy we do consume.
- Maintain the reeds by the Longhouse as a natural habitat for wildlife and birds, encouraging guests to record which birds they spot in and around the garden.
- The garden area is current left to grass with the local wildflowers left to grow through the reeds each Spring.
- Our preferred charity, IDE-UK, works with farmers and entrepreneurs in poor rural areas around the globe to create income and livelihood opportunities to empower them for a better future. We donate annually to their cause.
We are delighted to have been recognised as GOLD level by Green Tourism and to have won ‘Best Green Holiday Home in Europe 2016’. But, where we fall short, we commit to better. We continuously assess and seek to improve, to keep abreast of advances in technology and practice to go beyond what is required.
Linda & Paul Brown