Marine window blind maker Solarglide moved into the Stottie Shed at Gosforth’s Baker’s Yard – the former home of Greggs – in January 2020 but knew their new home would need investment.

And following a free energy audit from the council’s Business Energy Saving Team (BEST) they were helped to access grants for efficient, low carbon heating. The audit was carried out by Frankie O’Keeffe on behalf of Narec DE, who are contracted by BEST to deliver the audits for businesses.

Company managing director Paul Pringle said: “We knew we’d need to invest in a solution to heat the new building, and an introduction to the BEST programme came just at the right time.

“As a business we are committed to reducing our environmental impact, and have invested in our packaging and fabric sources to use those made from plastic waste, while the packaging for our marine products is 100% biodegradable.

“It made sense to invest in the radiant heat technology, which not only helped to minimise our environmental impact, but also was the best option to reduce our energy costs.”

During their energy audit the firm, which designs, manufacturers and supplies solar screens, roller blinds, wipers, curtains and adhesive films for cruise ships, naval and commercial vessels, and yachts, including those owned by major global brands like Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival, were offered a range of potential options to reduce their costs and carbon footprint.

Typically, where a property – like the Stottie Shed – has no gas supply, a company would use oil fired space heaters or temporary gas heaters, but this “convective” method can be costly and inefficient.

Instead Solarglide were advised by BEST – which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme for 2014-2020 – to use electric radiant panel heating.

That works by emitting infrared radiation, which is then absorbed directly by people and objects, bypassing the need to heat the entire space and greatly reducing the energy requirements.

To part fund its installation, the company was supported to successfully apply for a £3,841 grant.

Coupled to savings of over £3,700 in energy costs, and over 29 tonnes of carbon per year, the investment in new heating will have covered its costs within 12 months.

Cllr Clare Penny-Evans, Newcastle City Council’s Cabinet member for climate change and public safety, said: “It is extremely positive to see local businesses benefiting from the services that our great BEST team offers and choosing to invest in technology that will reduce their environmental impact.

“Rising energy bills are one of the biggest spends for businesses and this case again shows how it is possible to both save money and make a valuable contribution to our city’s ambitious net zero ambitions.”

The BEST project was funded by £670,000 from England’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme for 2014 to 2020. It carried out over 200 energy audits for small and medium sized businesses, helping them to leverage nearly £500,000 in matched funding for energy improvements and cut more than 600 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

The main BEST programme has now finished however businesses are encouraged to contact for more information on future and alternative support.

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