AN AWARD-WINNING Eco House in Snowdonia has added ‘Carbon Negative’ to its host of environmental accolades.

John and Ceilia Whitehead’s Bryn Elltyd Eco House at Tanygrisiau, near Blaenau Ffestiniog, is believed to be one of the first accommodation businesses in the UK to be certified carbon negative.

Bryn Elltyd, which can provide bed and breakfast or self-catering for guests, became the first Tesla destination charging point in Wales, and its six electric vehicle (EV) charging points are continually upgraded.

Last year, it was recognised by Electrifying.com as one of the best places to visit in the UK with excellent electric car charging facilities.

The business has been operating entirely on renewable energy since 2013, when it won the Considerate Small Accommodation Provider of the Year Award. Bryn Elltyd was the only Welsh business shortlisted by Considerate Hoteliers in the 10 award categories and triumphed against much larger five-star businesses.

The eco guest house was described by the judges as “a beacon of sustainability at the foot of Snowdon” and went on to win the accolade again in 2014. Bryn Elltyd has also achieved gold in the Green Tourism Business Scheme for more than a decade. 

Stu Meades, managing director of Greener Edge Sustainability, based in Beddgelert, who undertook the carbon footprint analysis of Bryn Elltyd, said: “I haven’t assessed or seen any other holiday homes in Wales which have achieved carbon negativity, and I think it’s extremely rare in the UK. The amount of work John has done at Bryn Elltyd is exceptional; he’s a demonstrator of best practice.”

Carbon negative Bryn Elltyd Eco House

The story for Bryn Elltyd began when Ceilia took John to the Centre for Alternative Technology, near Machynlleth in 1982 and was amazed at working solar panels in a slate quarry. John left his aerospace career, fitted solar panels on their suburban semi-detached home in Coventry and devoted the next 20 odd years to teaching technology.

The chance came in 2007 to change careers and create a green guesthouse, 700ft up a mountain in Snowdonia National Park. Bryn Elltyd is an 1883 granite building, which was a challenge for energy efficiency.

John has sensitively developed the property with massive insulation and turf roofed buildings, lined with sheep’s wool, solar panels, hot air extraction from conservatories, rainwater loo flushing and biological sewage into a reed bed and duck pond.

The property was one of the early adopters of a boiler that turns local wood to gas and burns it at 900c. The boiler is computer integrated with a massive solar array. The couple buy mainly local products and services and have their own orchard and vegetable plots hewed from the mountainside.

“Many organisations talk about aiming to become carbon zero or carbon neutral in future,” said John. “Carbon negative is even better, and we’re delighted to have achieved this now. Insulation, insulation, insulation is the key!”

The carbon footprint analysis was funded by the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund, managed by the Green Digital Academy at Busnes@LlandrilloMenai.

“The team are really pleased with the certification awarded to John and Ceilia at Bryn Elltyd,” said Julie Stokes-Jones, project business development officer at Busnes@LlandrilloMenai. “We encourage small businesses in Gwynedd and Anglesey to get in touch to take advantage of the support offered through this project to reduce their carbon footprint.”

Small businesses in Gwynedd and Anglesey are encouraged to contact green.digital@gllm.ac.uk for a fully funded carbon assessment of their business.

The Whiteheads are members of MWT Cymru, an independent organisation representing more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses in Powys, Ceredigion and Southern Snowdonia.