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£25,000 Sustainability Award for Biomass Hostel

Image: The highest youth hostel in Wales. Copyright Peter, and licenced for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Last week, Hostelling International announced the winner of their ‘Hostelling International 2013 Sustainability Fund’.

The YHA Pen-y-Pass, a hostel situated at the base of Mount Snowdon in Wales, was awarded first place out of fifteen entrants from across the globe. The prestige of the award was also accompanied by prize winnings of £25,000, which will be put to good use as part of a £1.3m refurbishment of Pen-y-Pass, which includes the installation of a brand new biomass boiler, which is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by over 80%.

Pen-y-Pass will also be working to use less water, recycle more, use locally grown food, and hire from within the local community. They’ll be encouraging people to use their cars less, and walk, cycle, or take public transport as an alternative.

Caroline White, the Chief Executive of the YHA has said the following: “We are all absolutely over the moon about winning the HISF grant for YHA Pen-y-Pass. The hostel, high up in the mountains of the Snowdonia National Park, means so much to thousands of people who explore the area each year. The grant will ensure we can make the experience we offer at the site even better through innovative sustainability. Thanks you to everyone who voted for us and please come and see the work for yourselves next year and stay at the YHA Pen-y-Pass.”

Biomass heating is a fantastic choice for rural structures such as youth hostels, which are often found in areas ‘off the beaten track’, and may be without a mains gas connection. Pen-y-Pass for example, is the highest youth hostel in Wales, and photographs of the place show that it is surrounded by nought but mossy terrain and rocky outcrops for miles. The previous (and still current for many) solution for heating was heating oil, which is not only a detriment to the environment, but is also considerably more expensive than biomass, particularly in conjunction with the RHI.

The YHA Pen-y-Pass is currently closed while the refurbishment tales place, and will reopen again next Easter. It will also be awarded the Green Dragon Environmental Standard in the near future.