Shell founders house goes green

A National Trust property, once owned by the family that founded the Shell oil company, has made the switch from oil to a renewable energy heating system.
Upton House 1.jpg
Upton House, in Warwickshire, was using 25,000 litres of oil each year to heat the estate. It now produces the equivalent energy from two new wood pellet boilers, which is enough to heat eleven average sized houses. This will save £6,000 a year on heating bills and 55 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
The successful completion of the Upton House and Gardens project is the first milestone in the Trust’s £30 million investment programme in renewable energy, announced last year, to heat and power some of its historic places [1].
The estate and gardens were gifted to the Trust by owner, and then Shell chairman, Lord Bearsted, in 1948.
Ed Wood, the Trust’s renewables project manager at Upton House, said: “The irony that the estate was owned by a family whose fortune was built on oil was not lost on us when we started our project to take Upton off this fossil fuel.
“In the past, oil was the most effective way to heat the property. Times have changed and to lower our carbon emissions and meet our targets to generate 50 per cent of all energy we use from renewable sources by 2020 we felt it important to change our energy source here.”
The property removed four oil boilers, and in doing so, the associated risks of oil leaks. The new biomass boilers, with the wood pellets sourced from the UK, are heating the house, property offices, the squash court gallery, restaurant and cottage. 
Julie Smith, General Manager at Upton House, said: “Installing the new heating system has met the energy needs of this wonderful country house with appropriate consideration for the heritage of the property and gardens.
”It took just eight weeks to install and clearly shows how we are committed to safeguarding our heritage and helping to protect the natural environment.”
Mike Hudson, Renewable Energy Director for the National Trust, said: “This is a great example of what support from the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme is enabling the Trust to do. Schemes like these cut carbon, promote local sustainable wood management and work in harmony with the natural and built environment. They work for the local environment and economy and support national energy and climate change ambitions.”

National Trust partners with Kotki Dwa for their inventive new album ‘Staycations’

Keen to invent new ways to make and release their music, art-pop trio Kotki Dwa have called upon the support of the National Trust in the production of their new album ‘Staycations’, scheduled for release in June 2012.

The partnership will see Kotki Dwa recording parts of their new LP in a spectrum of National Trust places picked for their aged acoustics and grand backstories, most recently Upton House in Warwickshire, and Fenton House and Sutton House in London.

The Trust’s picturesque outdoor spaces will also inform the album’s artwork and music videos, with the band visiting scores of places from the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales to Devon and Wales.

Alex Ostrowski, lead singer of Kotki Dwa, said: “We thought of approaching the National Trust after deciding on the album’s title.

“Their places attracted us as a way to add atmosphere to the album and build on some of the idealistic imagery in our music, as well as its darker dramatic themes.

“We each live in different parts of the country too, so we’re used to travelling around to make our music.”

Andrew McLaughlin, Assistant Director of Communications for the National Trust, said: “Kotki Dwa approached us last year with impressive proposals to celebrate National Trust properties in a new and creative way, taking their album title as the starting point.

“Thanks to the staycation trend, more and more people are discovering the amazing places on their doorstep.

“Whether it’s the great outdoors or the great indoors, visitors often tell us that the places that we look after give them great inspiration. Recording an album with us is a perfect fit for everything we’re about.”

The band are collaborating with film director Geoffrey Taylor to capture the project as it unfolds, allowing fans to follow the album’s progress online.

For the album artwork, Kotki Dwa have enlisted photographer Alex Edouard to explore the beauty of The Trust’s most dramatic outdoor spots.

‘Staycations’ will be released by Kotki Dwa in June 2012, with limited edition physical packages distributed through a selection of National Trust outlets.

To launch the album, Kotki Dwa will invite audiences to one of the Trust’s London properties for a special live performance this summer.

Kotki Dwa have steadily earned a loyal following for their exciting independent ethic, uniquely armed to execute the unconventional project.

To date, the band have had their music exhibited in the Tate Modern gallery, hosted Polish paper cutting workshops on The Southbank, and combined molecular gastronomy with live performance to release their Lunch EP last November.

‘Staycations’ is their biggest project yet, yielding the first full-length album since their self-released debut in 2007 (“8/10, utterly essential” – NME).

Follow the project at