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Trafford furniture manufacturer makes low carbon upgrades

Bluebell Fitted Furniture is taking impressive steps to improve its efficiency by installing wood waste heating, LED lighting and solar PV following a bespoke event with local technology suppliers.

Bluebell Fitted Furniture is taking impressive steps to improve its efficiency by installing wood burners, LED lighting and solar PV following a bespoke event with local technology suppliers.

The company, owned by husband and wife, Mike and Alison Reuben, has over 23 years’ experience in advising and working with customers to create perfectly fitted furniture solutions for bedrooms, kitchens and home study and media rooms.

The business has grown to a stage where it has a large team of employed fitters and their own dedicated manufacturing unit in Trafford. As a result, it is now working with the Business Growth Hub’s Green Growth service to maximise its efficiency and minimise the environmental impact of its operations. 

Identifying opportunities

Following an on-site review from resource efficiency advisors, Laura Bramley and Claire Scott, three key opportunities were identified to help Bluebell improve its efficiency and save money. 

  • By installing an air heating unit fuelled by waste wood from its manufacturing operations, Green Growth calculated that Bluebell could save £6,000 per year in reduced waste and gas heating costs, paying back the cost of the heating unit in around three years
  • By upgrading its lighting to energy efficient LED technology, Green Growth found that the company could save a further £800 per year, paying back under 1.5 years
  • Finally, installing a 30kW solar PV array of 120 panels on its roof was calculated to save Bluebell over £5,000 a year, paying back under seven years. 

Engaging suppliers

Recognising the potential to make significant cost savings in the long term whilst also making improvements to its premises, Bluebell was keen to investigate all three of the measures identified. To help it make an informed decision on the best solutions available, Bluebell then worked with Green Growth to invite technology suppliers to its premises for a bespoke event.

This presented a great opportunity for Green Growth’s low carbon sector programme – which provides growth support for Greater Manchester’s low carbon technology suppliers – to team up with the resource efficiency team to connect Bluebell to local suppliers. 

Six local companies working with Green Growth’s low carbon sector team attended the event in February 2015, each providing quotes and presentations on their biomass heating, LED lighting or renewable energy solutions.

As a result, Bluebell has reached agreements with three suppliers and has already installed new LED light fittings. A wood waste heating burner is set to be installed in May 2015 and a 30kW solar PV array is expected to be fitted later in the year.

‘Reaching our potential’

Mike Reuben, director at Bluebell, said: “Working with the Business Growth Hub to run a bespoke event to invite suppliers to our premises was a great way to help us find the best technology solutions for our needs.

“The competition was intense, and the Green Growth team’s support throughout the process – from identifying what technologies we needed to providing guidance with suppliers – was hugely helpful.” 

Laura Bramley, Green Growth environmental business advisor, added: “Bluebell’s story is a great example of how both sides of the Green Growth service – resource efficiency and low carbon sector support – can combine to connect local suppliers and local buyers, boosting Greater Manchester’s low carbon economy in the process.”  

Green Growth support is delivered by ENWORKS as part of the Business Growth Hub. To learn more, or find other success stories, visit the website.