As the eyes of the world focus on Scotland and the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, we should not forget that Norton Park is an environmental trailblazer.

And, the team would be delighted to welcome any visiting delegate keen to learn how historic buildings can be transformed to deliver the highest green credentials as part of a cleaner, more sustainable and cost effective future.

Almost 20 years on from its conversion from a former school, Norton Park remains a leading light in what can be achieved when the climate is considered while reinvigorating and repurposing an amazing older building.

The work carried out here has won plaudits not just for being the first third sector hub of its kind in Scotland, but for the green benefits it delivered.

Our chief executive Anne-Marie O’Hara says: “Even now – 20-plus years on from the initial redevelopment – Norton Park remains a prime example of how older buildings can be sympathetically upgraded while achieving high environmental standards.

“Sustainability has – and will always be – one of our core values. We are committed towards a genuinely sustainable future. As we look ahead, we are drawing up plans which not only will take our green credentials to the next level but bring significant cost savings too.

“We would be delighted to share with delegates at COP26 what we have achieved so far and what we would like to achieve in the years to come.”

Our business hub, a Category B listed building built in 1902, is currently home to 21 charities. Our conference centre created in the neighbouring former St Mungo’s Church plays host to various community, charitable and corporate events and activities. 

Refurbishment work was carried out in 1998 and has since been highlighted by academics at the University of Glasgow as an example of how design-specific measures can be taken in older buildings to help meet carbon reduction targets.

The brief for the building’s overhaul included action to reduce energy consumption to well below the requirements of the day, an achievement that saw the project win The Sir Robert Grieve Award for Sustainability and a Scottish Regeneration Award, as well as earning a mention in the 1999 Civic Trust Awards.

Work carried out included insulating walls, adding secondary glazing and loft insulation to improve fabric performance together with modern services and controls including background ventilation, which provides fresh air and provides heat recovery via a passive solar slate system.  

 These measures together achieved a reduction in the average U-value from 1.94 to 0.45 W/  K, proving that with careful refurbishment energy use in older buildings could be halved. 

Norton Park is now considering an even more ambitious project centred on the neighbouring former church, which it partly converted before opening as a conference space in 2010.

It would see the charity not only further reduce its carbon emissions, but also start generating electricity on the campus – at the same time as realising a long-term vision for creating more flexible office and meeting space in the building, which dates to 1927.