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Glenuig Inn in Glenuig

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Traditional highland inn using 100% renewable energy since 2015

The award winning Glenuig Inn, situated on the route north from Oban via Mull to Skye and just off the Road to the Isles, is a traditional highland inn with modern, practical accommodation and serves locally sourced seasonal modern Scottish food. It attracts visitors from all over the world and is the great base for doing things on the West Coast of Scotland as well as having impressive sustainability credentials.  



In 2007 when Steve Macfarlane purchased Glenuig Inn, his vision was that environmental sustainability should be at the forefront of the business. He aimed to demonstrate that it is possible to run a leisure and tourism business efficiently and profitably with minimal environmental footprint. Today Glenuig Inn runs on 100% renewable energy and generates minimal waste which cannot be recycled or repurposed. All the food waste and food contaminated waste from the restaurant and kitchen is dried, sterilised and co-mingled with wood pellet before being used as part of the biomass fuel.



The facts

  • 100% renewable energy – local hydro- electricity and biomass
  • Zero food waste leaving site – dried & sterilised for fuel 
  • Zero carbon emissions on site - 96% reduction in waste to landfill
  • Sustainable supply chain management - Lower energy bills in winter than summer
  • Passive ventilation in the main building 


Energy efficiency

The vision was to develop an energy efficient building from existing building stock rather than starting from scratch with an eco-build. From a 2008 baseline, Glenuig Inn has reduced its carbon emissions by 84% to November 2011 and by February 2015 it was a 100% renewable energy business with zero carbon emissions. Net energy costs were almost half in 2016 compared to 2008 despite raw energy costs increasing three - fold and turnover more than doubling.  

An array of integrated energy efficient measures have been implemented: 

  • To conserve heat and create a stable ambient temperature using existing thermal mass, the main Inn building was wrapped in breathable, wood fibre insulation which also acts as a carbon sink.
  • Heat produced from refrigeration and cooking is retained within the building and circulated from the kitchen, cellar and cool store to other areas of the Inn using a simple system of extraction and ventilation fans.
  • Waste heat is recycled and used to heat the building overnight.Induction hobs are installed with automatic power shut-off. No deep fat fryers.
  • Low energy, dimmable LED lighting is used throughout both internally and externally.100% green electricity is purchased from local hydro schemes.
  • Heat and hot water is generated from the biomass boiler using wood pellet and 10% by volume of dried food waste  The natural heat loss from the district heating system is captured to create the drying room to provide a facility to support water based outdoor activities.
  • All the food waste and food-contaminated organic waste produced in site is sterilised and dried, the output is co-mingled with the wood pellet as the biomass fuel at approximately 10% by volume.The consumption of ‘bought in’ biomass fuel is reduced, as well as the associated costs of delivery in terms of carbon footprint and actual transport costs; the dried food waste eliminates one whole pellet delivery per annum.  
  • Dried food waste as part of the biomass mix has 25% more calorific output per kg than the wood pellet it replaces. 

Reducing waste from food, drinks and packaging 

The amount of food waste generated on site has been significantly reduced through effective supply chain management whereby products are purchased in as little packaging as possible.  This was not only driven by environmental considerations, but also the lack of local economically viable waste collection services available for different waste streams.

All food is prepared and cooked onsite from locally sourced ingredients, therefore packaging is kept to an absolute minimum. All bar snacks are bought in bulk and stored in kilner jars and served as individual portions, immediately avoiding wasteful individual bags. The focus on real ale means that the need for man-made CO2 is removed.

Recycling is often a challenge in rural areas, this one is no exception: glass collection is not available and to arrange a scheduled collection solely for cardboard is uneconomical. Therefore, Glenuig Inn separates glass, paper and card into separate waste streams which are then taken on demand for recycling eight times a year. Guests are encouraged to recycle all waste brought onto site through some simple measures. 

New technology helps reduce food waste

Since March 2015 Glenuig Inn has operated a zero food-waste policy. After exploring options such as composting and onsite anaerobic digestion, a food waste dryer was purchased which was small enough to be used on site. This is used in conjunction with the biomass boiler, which uses standard wood pellets. All the food waste and food-contaminated organic waste is dried, sterilised and co-mingled with the wood pellet in the biomass boiler, at approximately 10% by volume, and provides all the heating and hot water on site. The biomass boiler has been funded with an Resource Efficient Scotland (RES) SME Loan, with interest, against which RHI payments are collectable, and the food waste dryer funding is from the Energy Saving Trust (EST), but interest free. 

The culmination of the ongoing relationship with RES/EST in developing a holistic approach to achieving an energy efficient business within the travel and tourism sector  led to the Inn achieving 100% renewable status. Without their support this would not have been achieved in the multi-faceted business.


It is clear that the combined infrastructure measures, and integrated operating procedures have not only eliminated carbon emissions from the whole site, but also reduced total energy consumption to almost half whilst growing the business substantially.    “We’ve demonstrated that incorporating sustainability is sound business sense - sustainability and profitability are parts of the same approach. Doing so has turned this into a more profitable, efficient and sustainable business, making us very different from other businesses, and saving us money whilst reducing our environmental footprint.” Steve Macfarlane.

Glenuig Inn was one of the runners-up 2018-2019 for the Management Award of the European Business Awards for the Environment.



Glenuig Inn used the RES SME loan to improve business performance

Multi award-winning Glenuig Inn shares their resource efficiency secrets 





Biomass boilersHydroelectricity
Food wasteGreen teamsHeatingLightingSupply chain / ProcurementWaste prevention and management
SME Loan schemeVIBES Awards

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© Resource Efficient Scotland 2020

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