Mon 8 Apr 2019 3:05PM

Reviewing our environmental impact

FE Fran Ellis Public Seen by 114

Following Graeme's post on the carbon emissions produced by burning our temple and effigy, here's a thread to discuss the wider issue of environmental impact and LNT at Nest.

This is a place to start throwing ideas around - what do we do well as a community? How could we improve? How does this vary from individual participants to theme camps, artists, the core team etc? Where do we go from here? Advise away x


Graeme McGregor Mon 8 Apr 2019 3:59PM

I suspect it will be hard to come up with hard facts and stats about our environmental impact and there will be a tendency to generalise based on anecdotes. Does anyone have any experience doing Environmental Impact Assessments of this sort for events of this kind?

Anecdotally, the things that jump out for me are:

Private transport, including heavy vehicles but particularly flights.
Pre-packaged food
Bottled water
Food waste
Non-eco-friendly glitter
Material waste from camps, including LEDs, plastics etc.

Also, off-site waste disposal, recycling (or lack thereof) etc.


Tom Allen Tue 18 Jun 2019 4:04PM

i do EIA for events, and i can tell you, transport is always the number one by a huge margin. it only takes a few people to fly in to outweigh EVERYTHING on site


Paul Phare Tue 9 Apr 2019 9:39AM

You missed out one of our biggest environmental footprints after transport which is burning deisel to generate electrciity. An easy win here would be to burn bio-deisel. I've also got an idea to bring batteries to site that have been charged at a solar farm, maybe even a community owned one and run the grid off them for a week. One for the future I think!


Ashley Wed 10 Apr 2019 4:32PM

Is connecting to grid electricity for the duration of the event a viable option at all?


Paul Phare Wed 10 Apr 2019 5:40PM

we have considered that with the landowner. The size of the cable you would need to run from his house would be massive. Not impossible and he is open to it. He has solar panels onsite too so that would be a lower carbon option than generators


Chris Mon 13 May 2019 9:43PM

Love the idea of a battery farm or anything other than diesel generators. I would love to hear a little less generator rumble and a little more nature.


Adrian Godwin Tue 14 May 2019 9:29AM

Out of curiosity, what are the ratings of the generators we use ?


Paul Phare Tue 14 May 2019 11:09AM

I think they are around 30kW and we have two of them. We’ll be well overpowered though


Tom Allen Tue 18 Jun 2019 4:01PM

the sheer weight of batteries to run the event for a week would take more emissions to transport there and back it outweighs the benefit unfortunately... i will be bringing my new solar array though hopefully. can i ask who manages power atm?


Graeme McGregor Tue 9 Apr 2019 10:40AM

That's a super good point. Solar would definitely be the way to go.


Lexy Wed 10 Apr 2019 2:41PM

My van I am coming to Nest in for the second year is all solar powered! Very impressive. Although thats just for lights and charging things. I think you would struggle to run a full sound system off solar, especially in UK .....


Gemma Smith Wed 10 Apr 2019 8:37AM

Gas cookers/ camping stoves also?


Paul Phare Wed 10 Apr 2019 8:58AM

We're talking low impact with gas cookers compared to transport and electricity. I would say how people fuel their cooking should be at their own discretion, at least for now




Graeme McGregor Wed 10 Apr 2019 2:52PM

For now, I think it's worth considering as many different ways as we can in which Nest has an environmental impact, before we start trying to rank which are most significant.

The reason for that is that there may be larger environmental impacts that, on their own, we can't do very much to reduce or mitigate. There may also be numerous small environmental impacts that could be more easily addressed that would, collectively, have a large positive effect on our environmental impact. Does that make sense?

And we're not, at this point, looking to change anything at all, I don't think. I think that before proposing any policies or changes to how things are done, in order to reduce environmental impact, we need to understand better what those various impacts are. Given that gas is a fossil fuel with a high environmental impact, generally housed in a non-recyclable container made from various metals and plastics, I'd put them on the list, personally.

My proposal would be that, once we understand better the various inputs that make up Nest's environmental impact, then we can better judge what changes can be made to reduce it. I hope that makes sense.


Paul Phare Wed 10 Apr 2019 3:31PM

I don't think any festivals have a policy against cooking stoves yet, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't consider it. What are the sustainable alternatives? I use biofuel in my Tranja but camp-scale cooking is another thing


Graeme McGregor Wed 10 Apr 2019 3:40PM

There was a ban at some fests last year, but that was because of the dry period.

I guess communal cooking reduces the impact. Other than that, I don't know.


Fran Ellis Wed 10 Apr 2019 4:21PM

We invested in some catering-sized hot plates for BL due to the fire ban, which are treating us well - but of course run off the electricity.


Paul Phare Wed 10 Apr 2019 5:36PM

cooking off electrcity isn't an option while we're using generators. It has to be a biofuel solution or burning sustainable wood


Iona Steen Wed 1 May 2019 11:04AM

It might be a two big step burns are a larger


xavier dubruille Wed 1 May 2019 12:19PM

for me if you really want to lower the ecological impact, the first big problem are transport (which would mean a centralized transport for art and orga in one go AND getting a bus again but seeing the disparate arrival time, complicated) and power (how much would it cost to go full solar for the same capacity as the grid? can the cost of the grid be divided instead to 2 generator to 4/5/6+ solar system?)
And for the plastic consumption if a system to get all the food (fruit and veg) from local farm like we did in wales are put in place, it lower the impact (how need strawberry from spain after all?) For the rest, Burner are quite ecological despite the bad will of the actual society, of course if we could make our own beer/cider/wine/other and get a proper tank on site where everybody fills their bottle instead of cans and glass, that would be way better but that seems pretty far fetched.


Graeme McGregor Thu 2 May 2019 10:39AM

Burning Seed in Australia has the Red Earth Brewery, where different home brewers and camps bring their own kegs of beer to contribute. It's open for a couple of hours each day and it's an amazing community experience. Maybe something to think about doing in our own way.


Amandasm Thu 2 May 2019 4:09PM

It would be cool to plan earlier next year and see if a bunch of camps could combine resources for some local food and/or drink. Might end up cheaper to order a bunch of kegs locally and split them if you're part of a camp that gifts booze?


xavier dubruille Thu 2 May 2019 8:52PM

@stephenbrannigan this year will bring his own concoction as alcohol this year, i trust him on the quality but maybe we can convince alex to base a brewery in his basement before the event or more realistically convince more people to do that (and tbh for drinker who can afford it, it would be cheaper in the year for them)


Stephen Brannigan Fri 3 May 2019 10:54AM

I'd be happy to try and persuade him to brew his own wine, but as a public service announcement I will say: It's really not much harder than assembling IKEA furniture. The kits come with instructions, and The Home Brew Shop where I got mine always have very knowledgeable staff available to call for help if you need it. Here is a video detailing how to use the wine kits I use. I put it into bags in boxes rather than bottles because glass heavy, expensive, and weak. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejei-IeXLE8


Amandasm Tue 18 Jun 2019 12:29PM

Our camp sourced some locally made cider nearby - it was very affordable as well.


Amandasm Thu 2 May 2019 5:09PM

OK I thought it would be good to get all ideas collected somewhere for people to peruse and add their ideas to, so I've made a google doc listing various ideas for having a greener Nest. Most are at the individual/camp level but we can also add site-wide ideas too. Please add anything to it you can think of that isn't listed yet. Not just lower-carbon but all different ways to be more sustainable..


Amandasm Fri 14 Jun 2019 12:53PM

Another idea that I've seen in The Borderland community is to create an online group for co-ordinating the sharing of resources/materials/spaces for the creationg of art projects, allowing for the better sharing of transport of materials and for people to donate materials from past projects to others to repurpose, etc.


Tom Allen Tue 18 Jun 2019 4:14PM

i am very interested in following up on this but am extremely busy atm until july. but from my work i can say when talking about emission for events like this, transport is ALWAYS the number one. it only takes a few people to fly in to emit more than the entire event does. switching to solar and biofuel is nice, but some biofuel actually has more transport miles in it than it saves! its really hard to find out how much emissions are embedded in anything before you buy it (eg solar panels imported from china vs germany). solar storage for night use is also really expensive, heavy and therefore has more transport emissions if just brought there for the event. i have a solar array now that i will happily bring and it's transport will be included in my own rather than a separate trip, i can only bring 12kwh of batteries though before i need additional vehicle to carry them, which is not worth it. the best was to fix on site power is to get it from a renewable source from the grid. bringing a cable long and thick enough to get power from the estate is much more feasible for night power.


Simon Baker Tue 18 Jun 2019 10:16PM

As Power lead I wrote a review of our performance for the year. This is an extract, the full report is on Asana. I’ve added some other comments.

This year we had two main generators a 45kVA and a 60kVA. Our order was for two 45kVA sets but this was not available from the hire company. We also had a self contained lighting tower with built in generator.

Our total fuel consumption for the week for all generators was approximately 800 litres.

‘In order to reduce our CO2 and other pollutants we need to better manage our power generation and distribution. We and our end users overestimated the power requirements leading to wasteful over capacity.
Informal discussion with the site owner indicated that there is no chance of mains grid distribution to our location due to cost and distance.
Power requirements mean that a solar solution is impractical.
Assuming a similar layout for next year we therefore propose a single diesel generator with 125A tails split to 2 X  63A 3 phase distros. New endpoint limited connections could prevent end users taking more than allowed for power and mean better balancing of the load.’

Useful information on power use at festivals can be found here.

I hope we may be able to hire a solar charged lighting tower for gate next year which will be both greener and quieter.
We also need to better understand and quantify the energy needs of all users in advance.


Tom Allen Tue 18 Jun 2019 11:21PM

thanks for your time in working on the power team and providing that info. I would say i am shocked that big a system was spec'd for an event of that size, the borderland burn in denmark is currently installing a 125A 3ph system... to provide power to the majority of 3500 people! Was any actual usage data taken from the generators this year other than fuel usage? would you like my help designing and running the power system next year (if you are still doing it?) i have worked in event power for over fifteen years now. i have a solar array and battery system and flood lights and festoons which could easily replace the gate power system too which i was already planning on bringing. I also have innovative solutions to getting power from the estate (my good friend builds high voltage transmission systems) if you are interested in that too.


[deactivated account] Wed 19 Jun 2019 8:12AM

Would Nest consider asking people not to fly? I can see both sides to this (it's not very inclusive for one!) but I also believe it's a decision more of us need to take (not just during burns) if we're going to protect the climate.

Secondly, the site is near two stations and possibly we could get more people to take public transport. For me an important part of making that possible was a friend taking the bulky luggage in their car, otherwise it would have been quite impractical. This is something we can encourage people to consider.


Adrian Godwin Wed 19 Jun 2019 9:20AM

Nest already asks people to share transport etc. where possible. I have no doubt that they do, especially wrt heavy fuel uses like trucks.

It seems unnecessary to evaluate particular options.

Personally, I fly only when necessary - for some definition of necessary. Doubtless everybody else does the same - for their own definitions. So unless you completely ban anyone who has flown anywhere recently you will have to have some sort of similar soft ban and the person who sees it as the most practical option will always fit themselves into that bracket.

I would totally support an info board, a nonaggressive campaign, or whatever, clarifying the cost to the planet of flights and alternatives.


Paul Wed 19 Jun 2019 11:21PM

Indeed - I flew from Berlin (pretty sure that's further than most!) - not sure it was "necessary", but going by land would have taken 13 hours (a bit less than I thought it would, to be fair) and cost a little under twice as much (170GBP as opposed to 90).

Would be interesting to do a survey or census to see how many people took each form of transport to get there.

I'd also wonder if Nest environmentalists heading to Nowhere are going via land or air?


Graeme McGregor Thu 20 Jun 2019 2:31PM

I believe Luke Pinna is organising a coach to go from London to Nowhere, partly because a fully booked coach is drastically better for the environment than those same people flying or even taking the train, over that distance (and cheaper for everyone too, I believe). I'm not sure if Luke is on Loomio as he's not a Nestling as such, but he's easy enough to find on FB if you want to talk to him.


Tom Allen Thu 20 Jun 2019 2:42PM

@paulbradshaw that cost difference will be because of the disgusting subsidies the government gives to air travel over other forms of travel, big oil has very powerful lobbiest and we have weak governments. Personally I will be going to nowhere by land in a van field with biodiesel as I'm taking a large art project, otherwise I would choose the NoBus or TGV and public coach for the last bit. I did used to fly lots for my job, but that's before I realised I'd been lied to and conned big time and updated my views based on evidence. Next year I will be organising nest coach's unless someone beats me to it.


Simon Baker Wed 19 Jun 2019 10:05AM

Tom. You are correct that the Nest power provision was overspecced and that we need to urgently review this. However Borderlands actually has 2 off 110kVA generators so much larger than our system. But they are obliged to use electricity for cooking at Borderlands due to restrictive gas regulations so this power requirement is no surprise. Here's the Borderland grid for this year. https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?mid=17RINH_cefooqIkKYTEj-I_V5GnGgrkh0&ll=55.62821404194631%2C12.172843525817711&z=16
Current per phase was spot checked at Nest but without continuous data it's hard to build up a good picture of usage. I have some plans to improve on this next year. We have a good design team including a lecturer in power systems but would certainly welcome you as a shift power volunteer, thank you. Do you have a power industry qualification, not that it matters of course.

Would love you to provide power and lights at gate next year, that would be great.

Regarding estate power the owner has made it clear that he doesn't want power on the area of the site where we operate as he has no use for it for any other event. It's also not a cost that Nest would be able to afford I think, even if amortised over a number of years.


Paul Phare Wed 19 Jun 2019 10:18AM

Simon, we discussed the idea of bringing power from the house to our site while at Nest and I accept that it has challenges, but I wonder whether it is worth looking into since it does present a neat solution to our problem of inefficiently burning lots of jurassic juice. Even if it costs a bit more I suspect the community would pay it through the ticket price in order to run a more sustainable event. The problem as I see it (and I aint no expert) is the size of cable over the length required. Could we hire this cable? A connection into the house might also be an issue as might Alex’s attidute towards this, however it could offer him the option of running power out to his lawn where he hosts lots of weddings and outdoor events (not sure how he does that at the moment). Anyway, by working with him we may be able to persude him.


Simon Baker Wed 19 Jun 2019 10:54AM

I spoke to Alex who does indeed run temporary power out to the lawn for his events. I don't know what capacity is available. In order to provide a permanent feed we would need to have a steel wire armoured cable buried in a trench. Distance is approximately 400m. Cable cost for say a 50mm sq cable [not checked volt drop] would be approx £15 per m so about £6000 plus trenching, terminating switchgear and certification.

This assumes power from the house, there is overhead power at gate location but I have no idea what the cost from the electricity supply company is to provide a drop, if indeed that is possible.

If we were to hire 400m of 125A 3 phase cable the cost would be around £900 however the volt drop would likely be too high given standard hire cable sizes. Don't know if you can hire over sized temporary cables. Crossing roads would have to be done with either road humps or a catenary. But it's not impossible I agree.


Simon Baker Wed 19 Jun 2019 10:56AM

Unless anyone else is desperately interested in these details I suggest we take this to Asana to avoid boring people to death!


Tom Allen Wed 19 Jun 2019 11:15AM

How does one get access to Asana? Can you add me? I would love to continue this discussion. I'm part p qualified, uses to do cabling work for agrecko but there internal training stuff isn't valid unless I'm working for them


Adrian Godwin Wed 19 Jun 2019 11:46AM

You can have subtopics here, like the Art and Creativity one. Threads only appear in the topics you've joined, I believe.


Paul Phare Wed 19 Jun 2019 12:09PM

I think the discussion should stay here and let's set up a Power thread for us geeks who enjoy discussing this stuff. Tom, Asana is a project management tool which will not doubt be used by whatever team comes together to implement whatever is agreed here




Simon Baker Wed 19 Jun 2019 12:11PM

Ok with me - please do it.


Tom Allen Thu 20 Jun 2019 2:37PM

@pauliophario am I right in thinking only leads get access to Asana though currently?


Paul Phare Thu 20 Jun 2019 2:42PM

Yes, there is no need for all community members to access Asana as it’s a task orientated project management tool not a discussion tool


Paul Phare Wed 19 Jun 2019 6:20PM

I've added a new subgroup called Nest Power. Please feel free to join us there