Case Study: Green Initiatives – North Lands Creative Glass workshop

8th December 2014

North Lands Creative Glass has been making progressive steps towards reducing their environmental impact - and discovering additional benefits along the way.

The centre provides support for artists working with glass as an artform: providing facilities, opportunities and creative inspiration at an international level. Based in the North East of Scotland, in Lybster, Caithness, North Lands Creative Glass studio has a general & mould area, hot shop, kiln room, sand-blasting room, air powered grinding tools, a lamp-working station and a cold working and finishing shop, and hosts regular classes, conferences, residencies and workshops.

We heard from Technical Manager, Michael Bullen, abot their environmental efforts in a variety of areas:

  • Data Gathering and Analysis – The centre has focused much time on monitoring and analysing the energy use in their glass making equipment, and will soon be testing the use of a PC interface for recording energy alongside more qualitative information on equipment performance. This allows for a more nuanced understanding of the equipment – particularly regarding timing and power requirements for optimum use of the furnaces – and a continual programme of improvement.
  • Case-by-Case Treatment of Equipment – North Lands Creative Glass has also noted some surprising results, with some furnaces demonstrating variable temperature efficiency, and improved efficiency overall when a combination of heating elements are used. They also found that highly insulated furnaces can become less controllable due to a slower response rate, whereas less well insulated equipment dispels a lot of heat into the workshop. From these findings, the centre has focused more on effective management of each machine individually.
  • Upgrading Core Equipment – Upgrading equipment to provide the best technical, efficient, economical and artistic results is a consistent effort (when costs allow), with gas-fuelled furnaces gradually being replaced with electric equipment: enhancing control and reducing costs long-term! A nice bonus of this change has been audible: the new furnaces are much quieter, and improve the safety and comfort of the workshop for all!
  • Sharing Information and Best Practice – The centre has also been working with the manufacturers of their furnaces, to let others in the industry know about potential efficiency savings. Glass studios and art schools across the UK have benefited from their efforts!

North Lands Creative Glass was established in 1995 to stimulate the growing interest in glass as an art form. Click here to read more about them.

Image: Bruno Romanelli. Ida. 2013.

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