Top 5 courses for christmas presents

Looking for a different kind of gift for the person who has everything or wants nothing?

Fire their enthusiasm with a course they won’t have seen before.

Here are our top Christmas present picks for 2014 from our huge range of short courses:

Introduction to Horse Logging

1. Be a Horselogger for a day 28-Feb or 1 March / £70

Build an Earth Oven

2. Build a pizza Earth Oven 28-Mar or 2nd May  – £60

Rustic Furniture Making

3. Rustic Furniture Making 04-Apr  / £60

Make a Wind Chime or Xylophone

4. Make a Wind chime or Xylophone 02-May  / £60

Make a Bird Table

5. Make a bird table 06-Jun  / £60

Book online for specific courses or order a Gift Certificate. This is just a taster of the courses available at CAT. See the full calendar for more ideas.

In a hurry? We can email you the Gift Certificate on request.

The stakes are tropospheric; Why the Lima climate talks are so important.

The climate talks have opened in Peru,  their aim is to lay the foundation for an agreement in Paris and the stakes could not be higher. 195 countries are meeting to lay the groundwork for a new global deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The stakes are tropospheric, and far clearer now than when Kyoto was negotiated. High tide floods are becoming common across the coastal U.S. Greenhouse gases are making seas hotter and more acidic. Climate change is clearly amping heat waves, which are fueling wildfires. Global temperatures have risen 1.5°F since the Industrial Revolution, pushing sea levels and storm surges up an average of 8 inches. Greenhouse gas levels are rising now faster than ever.

Whilst everybody agrees that they want a deal, the devil, in this case is very much in the detail. This article explores some of the sticking points around COP20/21



The 196 parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have set an outside target of limiting global warming to 2°C over pre-industrial levels. The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and other climate-vulnerable countries want a tougher 1.5°C goal.

Legal Format

Should the pact be a “treaty” to be ratified by national parliaments, a slightly less formal “protocol” or some other form of agreement? And to what degree will it be binding under international law? These questions, crucial and explosive, are likely to be decided in the final hours in Paris, say insiders.


The deal is meant, for the first time, to bind all countries to a common climate text, with nations making pledges to curb emissions of Earth-warming greenhouse gases. Developing countries point to the principle of “differentiation” and want rich economies, who have polluted more for longer, to shoulder a bigger burden for addressing the problem. Wealthy countries, in turn, point to the rise of China and India as massive emitters of carbon from fossil fuel driving their growth, and insist on equal treatment for all. Poorer economies fear the talks are too focused on emissions curbs, known in climate jargon as “mitigation”.

They want the agreement to spell out financing for their own mitigation plans, but also help for adaptation, technology transfers, and compensation for climate damage. Not yet settled is the very wording of the pact – should the targets be called “commitments” or “contributions”?

Emissions pledges

Countries are being asked to submit their emissions pledges (“intended nationally determined contributions” or INDCs) by the first quarter of 2015. In Lima, negotiators will be tasked with agreeing on the type of information the INDCs must contain, and whether they will be housed in an annex or attachment to the main accord or in less formal “national schedules”. Before they become formal, will the pledges be assessed to determine whether they are sufficient, combined, to meet the warming target?

And if they are found lacking, will parties reconsider their commitments voluntarily or would there would be a “top-down” adjustment based on a global carbon budget (the total amount of fossil fuel the world has left to burn without exceeding the warming limit)?

Countries also disagree on whether the pledges should be for five- or 10-year cycles, and how frequently they should be reconsidered, if at all.

Follow up and compliance

Reviewing and disciplining countries that fail to live up to their commitments is another thorny issue. Will there be an international review of countries’ performance, a compliance mechanism or committee, or none?

(AFP, Paris) 

Green Capitalism

The failing market in carbon

Despite the failures of the carbon market to date ( it has not reduced emissions or prevented environmental degradation) some countries seem determined to keep trying.  A new carbon market that will spur emerging nations to cut emissions is the key element of next year’s planned global climate accord.  Amber Rudd U.K. official said, “winning United Nations support for a market that would give credits for emission reductions would be the most important part of any international agreement,”

But as Oscar Reyes puts it in his briefing for Carbon trade watch– “Try again, fail again, fail better.”

There is significant opposition to schemes such carbon trading at REDD+ from a wide range of campaign groups as well as Latin American countries such as, Bolivia Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua that have a record of rejecting market-based approaches to cutting emissions. Evo Morales blames capitalism squarely for climate change: “The real cause of climate change is the capitalist system. If we want to save the earth then we must end that economic model. Capitalism wants to address climate change with carbon markets. We denounce those markets and the countries which [promote them]. It’s time to stop making money from the disgrace that they have perpetrated.”

The people’s summit being is being held in Lima at the same time and is calling for  an ambitious, fair, equitable, and binding climate agreement. That is able, in record time, to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by no less than 50% based on the principles of equity and common and includes climate justice for the most vulnerable. If no such agreement is reached, the life of future generations is at risk. At the summit issues such as Payment for eco system services, Green capitalism ,REDD+ will be debated and alternatives proposed that are not based in perpetuating neo liberal market economies.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————-A breakthrough in Lima is vital if we to get see a global agreement in 2015, the agreement of China and the US to reduce emissions has been seen as a major boost for the climate talks. In order to reduce emissions to net zero by 2070 and earlier in developed countries there is no time to waste. Government processes are needed to create change but equally importantly is a global, popular, mass movement for climate change that builds and demonstrates the world we want to see. From the massive protests world wide in September 2014 to the mobilisations already going on ahead of Paris 2015 we can only achieve this enormous task by working together with a renewed focus and unified voice- presenting a powerful force for change.



The sun shines on Mynydd Gorddu Windfarm.

The sun shines on Mynydd Gorddu Windfarm.


A REBE trip to Myn ydd Gorddu Windfarm.
A REBE trip to Myn ydd Gorddu Windfarm.


Yesterday the REBE (Renewable Energy and the Built Environment) students were taken to visit Mynydd Gorddu Wind Farm located near Tal-y-bont, Ceredigion, West Wales and given a tour by the site manager. As a media volunteer I get to document all the interesting excursions students make, and so I thanked the weather gods for a sunny day, pulled on my long johns and packed my camera. After bumpy ride down narrow roads on the local coach, we arrived and were greeted by the sites operational manager, a sharp man in his forties. With the sun on our backs, we huddled round like penguins as he explain how this wind farm, which has been successfully running for nearly 20 years was started.


IMG_9713     IMG_9722_1


Developed initially by Trydan Gwynt Cyfyngedig in 1997 – a company owned by a local family, Dr Dafydd Huws and Mrs Rhian Huws, npower renewables was involved in the early stages but in 1993 ceased to be involved with the project. Beaufort wind Limited are listed as the owner now, RWE Innogy as the operator. Dr Dafydd Huws had been inspired by the turbines at CAT and later through visits to Denmark where the technology has been developed further. In 1997 however, npower renewables agreed to assume responsibility for the financing and construction of the wind farm. Trydan Gwynt Cyfyngedig became a co-operative venture between npower renewables, now called RWE Innogy and the Huws family company, Amgen, the welsh for “positive change”. Dr Huws and his company Amgen continue to have, a leading role in the development of the wind farm and its operation.


By all accounts this wind farm was remarkably successful, with a good track record of fulfilling its potential, but like all machines they do need maintenance.It was interesting to hear direct from the horses mouth what its like to manage a site such as this, what kind of decisions you have to make when lightening strikes and melts the conductors. Calling crane companies and having to pay them double so they can come lift off the hub and propellers the next day, and get the turbine back in action as quick as possible. These kind of quick financial calculations, mixed in with practical monitoring and maintenance are all part of a days work for a wind farm operational site manager.



The site was awarded European grant of £1.3m to trial four different types of turbine but today there stands 19 turbines, with two different diameters, as the planning authorities weren’t so happy with the idea of too many different machines scattered across the hills. The planners also ensured that the sub-station, where the electricity is sent into the grid and where the turbines are monitored (with P.C’s STILL running from 1995, a little fact to amaze the techo- heads) is built in a true vernacular style, with stone walls, wooden doors and iron detailing.


Myn ydd Gorddu Windfarm
Myn ydd Gorddu Windfarm


If you are interested in the performance of these medium sized wind turbines then you may be interested in the following; 7 of the turbines are each rated at 600 kilo Watts with a hub height of 34 metres  and a rotor diameter of 43m. The other 12 are rated at 500kW each with a hub height of 35m and rotor diameter of 41m. The rotors on both turbine sizes turn at an approximate speed of 30 revolutions per minute (rpm), driving a gearbox within the nacelle which is in turn connected to a generator. The turbines start to generate electricity automatically when the wind speed reaches around 11 miles per hour (mph), and achieve maximum output at around 33 mph. They shut down when the wind speed exceeds 56 mph, which is rare. The farm has a combined maximum output of 10.2 megawatts.


IMG_9818IMG_9834REBE Students taken notes about the Mynydd Gorddu windfarm.

I have no pretentions of being an engineer, and so many of these technical details the REBE students were avidly scribbling down passed me by and I tuned into the gentle sound of the blades swooshing above me in the cold winter wind and their majestic white silhouettes cutting into the crisp blue sky, a symbol to me of beauty and hope. I was also noticing the red kites sailing high in the sky, the fresh strong blast of cold wind whipping around my ears and noticed a suprising birds nest above one of the windmills doors at the base.

I am interested in the politics and people behind these endeavours and was intrigued to hear how carefully Dr Dafydd Huws tried to maximize the returns to the community by ensuring the windfarm infrastructure spread across more than one owners land. There is a fund, “Cronfa Eleri” that’s administered by Amgen, who have set up the Cronfra Eleri Advisory Committee, ensuring that people who understand the needs of the community decide how the money is spent to provide the widest community benefit. The fund yields about £10,00 a year and in 2011 the fund helped buy a new heating system for a community centre in Ysgoldy Bethlehem, Llandre, a new shed for the local Talybont nursery,  the re-wiring and renovation of the local church in Bontgoch, and towards a new tennis court in conjunction with the Playingfield Society Rhydypennau.


the wind blows us back to


As we wandered back to the coach, we waved good-bye to the beautiful bullocks, (the wind farm was fully integrated with the traditional farming practices of the area, with sheep and cows grazing beneath the turbines) and all looked forward to a delicious lunch awaiting us at CAT. The electricity from the farm traced our steps, passing along a cables supported by wooden poles from Bow street to Machynlleth, carrying clean electricity to the local electricity grid network for use in local homes, schools and businesses.  All in all it had been a very successful trip, but lets see what Alexandra King, a REBE student who came too had to say;


An interview with REBE student Alexandra King.
An interview with REBE student Alexandra King.


Who are you and what do you do when your not studying at CAT?


“I’m Alexandra King. I live and work in Bath. My husband is a consulting engineer, I work with him, mainly as a support at the moment, but hope that after finishing this course, I will be more involved in the engineering design.”


Why did you decide to study at CAT?


“CAT is the obvious choice – to my knowledge it is the best place in the country to study renewables. Why? For a long time now I was a mecologist by choice. I believe in sustainable lifestyle. We’ve installed PVs on our roof as soon as we had a chance. Renewable energy is clean and available everywhere, even in the most remote locations. It will not run out anytime soon, unlike fossil fuels. And if we start making changes now, by the time we do run out of coal and gas, we should have good enough infrastructure to keep us going. I don’t know if we could slow down the climate change, but there is always hope.”


What did you learn from the trip to the windfarm?

“I’ve always liked wind turbines, and this visit just reinforced this affection. They are so elegant and not at all noisy. The footprint of a turbine is very small. I love the possibility of the double use of land (cattle or crops), turbines scale easily, the construction time is relatively short, unfortunately so is the lifespan of a wind farm. But I am sure we can overcome this in the future.

One more thing, I’ve visited several wind farms and yet to see a single dead bird, yet, driving home a few days ago, saw 8 corpses on the motorway…  one of them was a badger, I think, but still.”



How do you find the teaching on the course, and is there anything you would change about your student experience with CAT?


“I love CAT, wouldn’t change a thing. Except I wish I’d started earlier, like several years ago, but never mind now. I think this course is well balanced; it will give me a broad understanding of principles and technologies that will be very useful in my future work.”


Many thanks Alexandra !



Is the world about to agree on net-zero carbon emissions?

Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in the message”- “Leaders must act. Time is not on our side.”

UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, attending what he described as an “historic” report launch earlier this month. 

This week the United Nations has released the most important assessment of global warming yet and warns carbon emissions must be cut sharply and quickly. The report also makes it clear that rather than falling, carbon emissions, mainly from burning coal, oil and gas, are currently rising to new record levels. It is the first IPCC report since 2007 to bring together all aspects of tackling climate change and for the first time states: that carbon emissions will ultimately have to fall to net-zero – a theme which CAT’s Zero Carbon Britain research has been exploring since 2007.

We marched for Zero Carbon Britain in October 2014, as we has before in December 2011

As the 2015 UN climate negotiations in Paris draw closer it is vital we have access to models for how each country can reach net zero emissions. Although the time allowed to reach net zero will vary between countries depending on their historic contribution to global emissions, the IPCC report makes it clear that getting to zero is a task facing us all.

However the IPCC report also makes it crystal clear that the solutions are both available and affordable and that quick, decisive action would build a better and sustainable future, while inaction would be more costly. “We have the means to limit climate change,” said Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC. “The solutions are many and allow for continued economic and human development. All we need is the will to change.”

Finding this ‘will to change’ has been another core aspect of CAT’s Zero Carbon Britain research project. Air flights, cars, high meat diets, conspicuous consumption shifting fashion and ‘constantly wanting the newest’ are powerful addictive social norms. Underpinned by abundant cheap fossil fuels they have taken a firm, yet sub-conscious hold on contemporary society, making it hard to question all that underpins them. But this is not a matter of moralising or inflicting guilt. We all awake to find ourselves having been deliberately, unwillingly led to place a burden on the earth, those in other places and those in future times.

member speaking
CAT members discussing Zero Carbon Britain

We do know we must change, we just can’t admit that we know. Even when presented with overwhelming scientific evidence by the UN’s IPCC, we still find that we can deliberately ignore it – even while being entirely aware that we are doing it. To make such a rapid emissions descent more ‘thinkable’ for those of us who have grown up in the industrialised west, it is necessary to help society see that the way we live our lives today is not “normal” but rather an energy extreme lifestyle. Such lifestyles have been deliberately designed for us, not only in terms of re-shaping the external physical landscape of transport systems and buildings but also in terms of the internal landscape of conspicuous consumption based social norms. Once this is revealed people can make their own leap and moving from today’s lifestyle is no longer seen as ‘a strange eco-challenge’ but a perfectly logical move to a more rational way of doing things.

But the vital thing to remember is that once we are equipped with the right tools, the way ahead can be a wonderful and exciting journey. From my perspective, renouncing consumerism gives me more time to do the things I love; spending much more time with community and spending quality time in nature – all directly replacing time, money and energy spent on conspicuous consumerism. Creative practice has shown how we can break through our prejudice, apathy and blind spots to catalyse a transformation of culture, attitudes and behaviours. Over just a few decades, our creativity has improved the lives of millions. It has helped to radically transform entrenched attitudes to gender, race, religion, class, employment law, exploitation and equity. Once a cultural shift is catalysed, legal & political frameworks quickly follow suit. To help society explore this leap I have been part of a group researching these ideas and we launched the report of our findings in Cardiff last week.

Young people work on their own vision for Zero Carbon Britain

Developing a path to net-zero as quickly as possible for Britain is necessary to show we can bring the impacts of our western excesses back down to our fair share – so we can look our brothers and sisters from across the globe in the eye and negotiate an equitable agreement at the next major UN climate summit in Paris in 2015. The UN calling for zero emissions is a hugely significant moment. At the moment, Zero Carbon Britain remains the only net zero emissions scenario for the UK. I hope, and expect, that won’t be the case for much longer



What is it like starting a new masters degree in renewable energy?


Toby Whiting, domestic energy assessor and new student on the MSc Renewable Energy and the Built Environment course at CAT reports on his introductory week. 

Looking back on the introductory half of the first module there has been a lot to take in! Meeting lecturers and other students on the course was re-assuring and surprising; the lecturers all have good levels of knowledge and practical experience (I have paid for some courses in the past where the trainers taught from a book and didn’t know the subject), whilst the students have come from a broad range of occupations and disciplines such as finance, engineering and teaching.

So far the course has laid the ground work with lectures explaining the current energy and policy status of the UK and covered global environmental issues and equipped us with the tools to learn; access to on-line research resources and essay writing lectures to name but a few (this is essential for me as I left college 25 years ago). A lot is packed into a day, with teaching finishing at around 8pm, then time flies as we sit in the evenings and discuss the thought inspiring lectures (often intermingled with anecdotes and drinks from the bar). I’ve been impressed with the lecturer/student ratio, there is always someone to ask if I missed something in a practical session. Saturday night sees an earlier finish at 6pm (this time following a seminar with our tutor which helps to demonstrate the type of work that is expected from us) after which some of us ventured into Machynlleth to find that the pubs are good and the locals are friendly. Sunday is a short day with two lectures and a packed lunch to see us on our way. I depart for a 6 hour train journey back to Southampton and feel pleased that my fears were unfounded; I have made the right choice, now I just need to write that essay and prepare my presentation for the second part of the module… That attendance covers the physics of energy use in buildings (closely related to my work), energy efficiency and an introduction to heat pumps.


The sun rises over CAT; one of the great views when the weather allows

Toby works as a consultant on domestic new-build housing, carrying out SAP (CO2) and Code for Sustainable Homes assessments along the South coast. He came to CAT because he wanted to challenge the answers that assessment tools give and he feels that a ‘hands on’ approach to investigating current technologies would be more useful.

Why our brains are wired to ignore climate change and what to do about it

George Marshall will be presenting his new book published by Bloomsbury at the Centre for Alternative Technology on the 11th of December at 7pm. The book looks at why, despite the overwhelming evidence, do we still ignore climate change? And what does it need for us to become fully convinced of what we already know?donteventhinkaboutit

George Marshall’s search for the answers brings him face to face with Nobel Prize-winning psychologists and the activists of the Texas Tea Party; the world’s leading climate scientists and the people who denounce them; liberal environmentalists and conservative evangelicals.

Along the way his research raised other intriguing questions:

  • Why do most people never talk about climate change, even people with personal experience of extreme record breaking weather?
  • Why did scientists, normally the most trusted professionals in our society, become distrusted, hated, and the targets for violent abuse?
  • Why do the people who say climate change is too uncertain become more agitated about the threats of cell phones, meteorite strikes or alien invasion?
  • Why does having children make people less concerned about climate change not more?
  • And, why is Shell Oil so much more concerned about the threat posed by its slippery floors than the threats posed by its products?

Don’t Even Think About It argues that the answers to these questions do not lie in the things that make us different and drive us apart, but rather in what we all share: how our human brains are wired, our evolutionary origins, our perceptions of threats, our cognitive blindspots, our love of storytelling, our fear of death, and our deepest instincts to defend our family and tribe.

With witty and engaging stories, drawing on years of his own research, Marshall shows how the scientific facts of climate change can become less important to us than the social facts – the views of the people who surround us. He argues that our values, assumptions, and prejudices can take on lives of their own, gaining authority as they are shared, dividing people in their wake.

He argues that once we understand what excites, threatens, and motivates us, we can rethink and reimagine climate change, for it is not an impossible problem. Rather, it is one we can halt if we can make it our common purpose and common ground.

And so this book does not talk in detail about the impacts of climate change or the things that make us turn away. There are no graphs, data sets, or complex statistics, because, in the end, all of the computer models and scientific predictions are constructed around the most important and uncertain variable of all: whether our collective choice will be to accept or to deny what the science is telling us. And this, says Marshall, is the most engrossing and intriguing question of all.

The arts can create a cultural shift in our approach to sustainability

culture shift report

A new research report produced by a collaboration between CAT and a number of other organisations in Wales argues that arts have a huge role to play in creating a cultural shift in our approach to climate change and sustainability. The report is officially launched today at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff, Wales. It was funded by Arts Council Wales.

The report is available as a download in English and Welsh.

culture shift report

‘Culture Shift’ gives an overview of the many pioneering sustainable arts initiatives currently operating across Wales. The report is a witness to what is going on already. It is also intended as a statement of intent and a call to action. It highlights the power of the arts to contribute towards or even take a leading role in the transition to a life-sustaining society. It is hoped that this report will contribute towards future arts policy within the context of the Welsh Government’s ‘Well-being of Future Generations’ Bill’. The report draws attention to how a growing number of artists are leading a paradigm shift in values and relationships around access to future resources.

Paul Allen, one of the authors of the report, leads the Zero Carbon Britain project for the Centre for Alternative Technology. Paul recognises a major role for the arts in transforming the way that society faces up to climate change. The report says:

“The Centre for Alternative Technology’s report, Zero Carbon Britain, shows that sustainable living within the finite resources of our planet is practically possible – however, it is the cultural challenge of making it ‘thinkable’… that we are now facing.”

It contains recommendations to the Arts Council of Wales regarding future arts policy in supporting the development of such pioneering practice. It is backed up by case studies and interviews from many artists and organisations and builds on the results from a sector wide survey conducted in Spring 2014. The appendices to the report give the survey data in more detail as well as naming many projects, formative books, articles, useful resources, contacts and organisations.

Although concentrating on Welsh activity the research is framed within the context of the wider changes and inspirations Welsh artists are drawing from those outside – including Artsadmin, Julies Bicycle, Tipping Point, Platform, Creative Carbon Scotland, People United, Encounters and Case for Optimism.

The work was undertaken by a team of artists and specialists in sustainability. These are; Fern Smith – actor and director and co-founder of Volcano Theatre, Sarah Woods – writer and performer, Emily Hinshelwood – poet and performer, Paul Allen – Communications Director for the Centre for Alternative Technology and Rhodri Hugh Thomas – actor, writer and sustainable development specialist with Cynnal Cymru-Sustain Wales.

tilting at windmills/Jess Allen
Tilting at Windmills/Jess Allen

“Emergence bid for and succeeded in the tender, not as consultants but as artists. We aimed at the process and outcome as being a creative collaboration between artists and those working in the field of sustainability designed to include as many voices as possible. We see this report very much building on and contributing to a growing narrative that appears to be gaining momentum and confidence across Wales, the UK and beyond. We hope that ‘Culture Shift’ will be a working document. We hope that it will serve as an impetus for others to join the conversation and to support those already doing this work.

Fern Smith, creative producer Emergence

“This is an important report and the issues it raises are worthy of debate. We are very conscious of the need for organisations such as ourselves to show leadership and commitment. The support and encouragement of the arts sector to continue the excellent work that is already going on is vital. Wales’ arts sector has already taken a lead on this and this report attempts to document, record it and share it.”

Sian Tomos, Arts Council of Wales

“Wales – a creative culture where artists are in abundance – is one of only three democracies willing to hold themselves legally accountable for promoting principles of sustainability. It is no surprise, therefore, that this leading edge report comes from Wales. Without artists how can we ever fully feel our way into a sustainable community or create the relationships that sustain us through difficult times?”

Margaret Wheatley, activist and author

Emergence is a Volcano collaborative project. It is designed to develop a low carbon, resource efficient arts infrastructure and to enable the arts to be a crucible for new ideas and thinking. Core partners on Culture Shift are Volcano, Cynnal Cymru-Sustain Wales, Awel Aman Tawe and Centre for Alternative Technology.

Chris Loyn wins prestigious architecture award

Chris Loyn is a guest lecturer on the Professional Diploma in Architecture course at the Centre for Alternative Technology. His designs for Stormy Castle have just won a Manser medal. Big congratulations to Chris and his practice.

Chris has run a drawing practical on CAT’s architecture part II course for several years. The purpose of the practical is to ‘re-value’ the act of drawing by hand as we feel “ design emerges through the graphic rumination of drawings…” so over a few days at the beginning of the course, we get the students to explore the space they are inhabiting. Most important of all through their time with us, we want to encourage a design process that explores analytically through drawing (and of course other mediums) a multitude of aspects of from which their design strategy and tactics emerge. This seeks to avoid a process where an imposed external form only driven by external context or a singular early concept, distorts the whole endeavour of holistic design.

‘Now, remember, that I have not been trying to teach you to draw, only to see.’    John Ruskin 1857


Sketch by Chris Loyn, who teaches architectural sketching at CAT
Sketch by Chris Loyn, who teaches architectural sketching at CAT

The 2014 RIBA Manser Medal winning house Designed by Architects Loyn & co, Stormy Castle is a contemporary private house in an area of outstanding natural beauty on a hillside on the Gower peninsula. The Building reflects the quality of the surroundings and, conversely, makes the most of the site in terms of views, landscape design and topography. The resulting design is a tour de force in terms of space, natural light, level changes and connection to the landscape. The palette of materials is kept to a minimum – polished concrete floors flowing throughout, shuttered concrete walls, crystalline white ceilings, full height glazing to maximise the views and Corten steel accents to external doors, cladding and the roof of the retained barn.


Here is a film made about the winning design:


Meet the Renewable Energy and the Built Environment students….

REBE Student Interview

MEET the new REBE’s ! (Renewable Energy in the Built Environment) Students…

Dashing between lectures, I managed to catch a quick word with some of the people studying on the MSc Renewable Energy and the Built Environment masters at CAT. Who are they, why did they come and what do they want?

Charming and professional it seemed like they were in thinking mode and it was only by the skin on my teeth that I (a media and marketing volunteer) managed to meet these lovely people on a mission. Lets hear what they had to say…

REBE Student Interview


What motivated you to do this MSc?

“I wanted to learn more about different renewable energy technologies, and so this seemed the right course for me. A colleague of mine did the course a few years ago and really enjoyed it. I came up to look around a couple of times and was really impressed by the enthusiasm and commitment from staff”

What were you doing before you came?

“Well I did and still do work full time for  a medium sized wind turbine consultancy in Swansea, called Seren Energy”.

What do you feel you are getting from the course?

“I am getting hands on practical skills and knowledge from people who work in the industry”.

What has the most interesting thing that you’ve learnt about since doing the course?

“Everything, All of it! Its too hard to choose as everything has been very relevant and interesting”.

How do you find the course structure/ teaching?

“Brilliant! But intense… Its a lot of work since I am working full time”.


REBE MSc student and Electrical Design Consultant for Atkins.


Occupation: REBE MSc student and Electrical Design Consultant for Atkins.

What motivated you to come on the course?

“I wanted to continue progressing in this field, following completion of an undergraduate degree in renewable energy. More specifically, I felt the practical aspects of the REBE course would help to solidify my academic knowledge”.

What do you feel you are getting from the course?

“Practical experience combined with new academic knowledge; it’s really interesting learning from people who not only teach, but also work within the renewable energy industry. They know their stuff!”

What is the most interesting thing you have learnt about so far?

“Learning about Passivhaus was especially interesting, with the practical we did in the self-build really bringing the concepts to life”.

What do you hope to do with your MSc after the course?

“I intend to apply for profession registration with the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET). Following this I would ideally like to complete a doctorate, hopefully based on the dissertation I do as part this MSc”.

How do you find the course structure/ teaching?

“The first week was a bit of a shock, as its quite an intensive schedule, but I have got used to it now. The teaching is of a high standard and I certainly feel I’m getting my moneys worth!”

Would you’d change anything?

“I wouldn’t mind a bit more time to recap on lecture notes, as there really is a lot to take in. So maybe an additional free period would be helpful”.


Zero Carbon Powys

Seven years ago CAT first published a vision for Zero Carbon Britain. Since then our research has developed to the point where we have a technically robust scenario detaining how we could achieve it. The research looks at how we use our land, the mix of renewable sources, food and diets, cutting energy consumption, electrification and balancing supply and demand.

This week that vision was made global as even the conservative IPCC said emissions will have to fall to zero globally to prevent dangerous climate change.

This weekend we will go the other way and look at how that goal of zero carbon could be achieved on the very local scale. The Zero Carbon Powys event, held at CAT but organised by the Powys Transition Network, will draw on the Zero Carbon Britain research and look at the implications for a rural county like Powys. Paul Allen, Alice Hooker-Stroud and Philip James – all researchers on the Zero Carbon Britain project – will all speak at the event.


09.30: Reception, tea & coffee

10.00: Conference opens. Welcome. Introduction to PTLCC – Mike Membery Chair PTLCC

10.15: An extra-ordinary story of people and energy”………Paul Allen ZCB

10.50: Land use- rural implications–– Alice Hooker Stroud ZCB

11.25: refreshment break

11.40: Rob Proctor, Renew Wales

11.50: Energy – Power up; Power down-rural implications – Philip James ZCB

12.25: How can we reach new people, fight denial and build a shared vision? George Marshall (COIN)George will lead a discussion group afterwards with a working lunch. Copies of his book will also be available for purchase.

(Please note there will be a brief opportunity for questions after each morning speaker for burning questions but the majority will need to be noted for consideration in the afternoon)

13.00: Buffet lunch and networking, displays in the forum

(All delegates should have stated any special dietary needs at the time of booking)

14:00: Andy Bull Severn Wye Energy Agency

14:10 to 15:40 ‘Open Space Technology’ activity focussed on topics arising from the morning’s presentations, led by Transition Network facilitators

15:40 Plenary feedback, reports from Open Space groups, final questions

16:00 Tea and cakes, goodbyes.

For more information and bookings click here