Green communities are a topic we like here. We’ve recently covered rural community-scale renewables in the North West of England, as well as Scotland’s progress in generating energy at similar scale.

We’ve also not so long ago awarded a whole bunch of grants to projects across the UK through the Leaf scheme, and more recently still, posted up lots of case studies of those successful to hopefully inspire others.

So, while there’s clearly a lot more to be done to make communities act as one in pursuit of a greener locale, things are ticking over quite nicely. But communities often have community centres, the bricks and mortar where the meetings that get projects off the ground are held. Surely energy efficiency right there would provide the ultimate beacon and example – so what of them, then?

Handily, there’s the ultimate example just opened its doors. Gamlingay Eco Hub claims to be the world’s first fully self-heating community centre, and “probably the most energy efficient community building in the country.”

Where green building is concerned, it’s important to consider all the materials and their life-cycles. In this case, materials were either locally-sourced or recycled. Then there was the super insulation, the heat pump and solar water heating, the use of natural lighting to avoid the need for electric lights during the day, and lots more.

Not that any of this means compromise to community centre staple activities: there’s nurseries, Parish Council meetings, am-dram, and even a library there. Best of all, in the midst of this being an ambitious work-in-progress involving local groups, they still found time to support Energy Saving Week

This is all well and good of course, but what help is out there to retrofit or even start thinking about bringing together resources to build a new community centre where you are? Well, Action for Communities in Rural England (ACRE) offer a service to provide centre energy audits and advice on making the most of incentives like Feed-in Tariffs.

Then there’s the modern phenomenon of ‘crowd-funding.’ Spacehive offers community groups the chance to generate funding for their big idea online via grants, trusts and foundations out there. There’s a great example this working for exactly what this blog’s about: Glyncoch Community Centre in Wales raised nearly £800k to get their project heading towards reality.