I saw a Facebook post a while back from Sutton-in-Craven Cricket Club who were making some interesting upgrades to their clubhouse and ground with sustainability and the environment in mind.
I caught up recently with Stuart Todd, their Head of Media and Advertising, to talk through the reasons behind those improvements and the difference they’ll make.
For all cricket clubs, it’s vital to keep one eye on the future. It’s an integral part of winning grants and funding but also just smart.
Ground heat pump
Sutton-in-Craven Cricket Club’s new pavilion was built in 2016 and they put in ground-source heating – which is as it sounds, a system (ideally for new builds and well-insulated properties) where natural heat from the ground is used inside.
Stuart told me: “When we built the pavilion, cost of energy wasn’t as important and at the forefront of our minds as it is today. However, we wanted to reduce running costs as well as looking for a more efficient and more environmentally-friendly way of heating the pavilion.”
He added: “At the time we looked at solar panels but thought the benefits would be better for the ground source heating system. We always knew we could add solar panels in the future.”
It won’t suit all cricket clubs and situations – a heat pump underground does the same job as a traditional boiler but doesn’t burn fuel to generate heat. Potential savings over time need to be weighed up against more expensive installation, sometimes substantial groundworks and that initial upfront cost.
it is definitely something to think about for a future build though. As it happens, we’ve seen energy costs skyrocket due to global events in Ukraine and electricity and gas prices have impacted grassroots cricket, as with everyone else.
“We have always wanted people that use the pavilion to be warm and comfortable, ground source heating running the underfloor heating system makes sure we can keep the pavilion at a constant, comfortable temperature. Without the ground source heating this would not have been possible with the current energy rates.”
Stuart Todd, Sutton-in-Craven CC
I’m curious to gauge how important sustainability is perceived as well as the environment for Sutton-in-Craven CC – and club cricket more generally.
While the will is often there, it can be cost-prohibitive or just mind-boggling to know where to start. As Stuart shares, it’s about baby steps as and when circumstances allow – but they all count.
“For Sutton in Craven Cricket Club, the environment has a huge part to play. We want to protect and play our part the best we can. We have beautiful surroundings in Yorkshire and we want to protect it. We are always looking for ways to improve on our carbon footprint. One step at a time, we can do this.”
He reckons there is a huge opportunity for other clubs to do this too. Many grounds have some spare space where they could plant trees, add a wildflower area or look at solar panels.
Installing solar panels
So many questions here. What was the thinking about installing solar panels? How have they funded it and it’s obviously a long-term strategy but what kind of returns do Sutton-in-Craven imagine getting down the line – either financial or saving energy costs?
Here is solar panel advice and guidance from Which? (the UK’s consumer champion) whose website is very good indeed if you want to research around topics.
Sutton-in-Craven Cricket Club had solar panels on their agenda for some time but with other priorities, they put it off until this year.
“We enquired with a local company to us called McNally EV. The service they provided convinced the whole committee that this was a no-brainer. They came down to see us, gave us a full personalised presentation on the benefits and what we can expect to get from the panels. We would recommend McNally EV to anyone, not just other cricket clubs.”
If you’re wondering what the eventual bill was, Stuart shared that too:
“The cost of the solar panels was £14,000. We got in touch with Yorkshire Cricket Board and we got awarded a grant of £10,000 towards the solar panels from them.”
These kinds of investments don’t happen overnight but there is support out there, allied with opportunities like crowdfunding to raise sizeable amounts of money.
The benefits of solar panels will be in the months and years ahead but it’s a way to tap into a natural resource and not be as dependent on the fluctuating energy markets.
I am hugely impressed with the measures at Sutton-in-Craven; not least because in the helter-skelter world of running a cricket club, forward planning might be part of the equation but it’s often more about the here and now.
Having the foresight to fundraise and invest in measures that won’t give a return for some time takes nerve.
I think the first time I saw solar panels on a clubhouse was at Hessle on the banks of the Humber. We rocked up mid-afternoon just as a game had concluded but had a nose around and their roof was plastered with solar panels.
The last part of what this innovative North Yorkshire club is doing is all about trees.
Coincidentally, one of my favourite books sits on my desk as I write this, more of a short story really, by Jean Giono and illustrations by Harry Brockway. The Man Who Planted Trees is well worth seeking out.
The tree planting idea really appealed to me as an initiative because lots of clubs can do this. From an environmental point of view, trees absorb carbon dioxide and convert it into oxygen. They literally help us breathe.
Planting trees, inspiring generations
Stuart explained the thinking behind a mass planting event rather than a smaller initiative, that I’m sure some clubs already do.
“Like many clubs, we have some space around our ground. We wanted to again improve our carbon footprint and do something good for the environment. It was a no-brainer to plant some trees around the ground. When looking online, we found out that the Woodland Trust were offering clubs, schools and charities the opportunity to apply for some free trees.”
They applied for 135 trees and got awarded the full quota. The cricket club wanted to then do something for the people that support and live locally, as well as raising some funds.
The light bulb moment was deciding to give people the opportunity to dedicate a tree in someone’s name.
It worked like this: Members or the general public could buy one or more, come down to the club, plant the tree and visit whenever they wish in the future. Each tree has a unique ID number.
“This was a win-win for everyone involved. Great for the environment, great for the club generating funds, great for the local people that could dedicate a tree in the ground.”
Out of the supply, 100 trees were offered for sale and were all snapped up with a tree-planting ceremony. A beautiful way to remember someone or make a positive contribution locally.
Sutton-in-Craven CC now turn their attention to the season in the Craven Cricket League. Their firsts are in Division One and kick off at Haworth Road Methodists on Saturday 15 April while the seconds host Denholme.
Whether it’s planting trees or organising on match-day, they are fortunate to call upon a dedicated bunch: “One thing is that we are fully run by volunteers, from the ground staff to bar staff. We have a fantastic team that all want to contribute in every little way.”
Thanks to Stuart for the insight into Sutton-in-Craven Cricket Club and you can check them out on their Play-Cricket site: https://suttonincraven.play-cricket.com or social media.
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