Behind the scenes (autumn 2023)

Bluetongue virus and our sheep

Our beautiful Amstelland has been suffering from an outbreak of the bluetongue virus since mid-September. This virus, which is deadly for sheep, is transmitted by midges, very small gnats. All 10 sheep on Wester-Amstel have been infected. Unfortunately, three sheep, including our favourite black sheep Jozef, died. The remaining sheep are now doing reasonably well. We hope they make a full recovery.

Our shepherdess, Regina Kouprie, is going through hard times. Of her flock of 200 Schoonebeekers, more than half have now died. Some 40 are currently in her infirmary in Heemstede, 4 of which are ours. She desperately needs our and your support. More information about her work can be found here or via the Facebook group Vrienden van het Oude Kennemer Schaap.

Photo (R.Spoelstra): Jozef 2015-2023. Our beloved black sheep.

An energy neutral Wester-Amstel?

Wester-Amstel is also facing the high cost of natural gas and electricity. Moreover, our journey toward sustainability presents unique challenges, particularly when managing a national monument. Balancing preservation with sustainable practices requires careful consideration and innovative solutions.

From peat to green energy

Still, we are optimistic. After all, we have gone through an energy transition twice before. In the 17th and 18th centuries, we burned peat and wood. In the 19th century, we switched to coal, and in the 20th century to natural gas. Now the transition to green electricity awaits.


Sustainable insulation
Our gas consumption has fallen by as much as two-thirds in four years, our electricity consumption by half. We achieved this by heating smarter, installing inner glass walls, insulating pipes, replacing the old air conditioners with fuel-efficient ones with heat pumps, and upgrading lamps and appliances. Of course, the mild winters also helped.

Photo (Collection J.Ph.J.F.Lissone)
Photo (Collection J.Ph.J.F.Lissone)

Nice and warm during concerts
This winter, we hope to reduce our usage even further. The house is now fitted with insulated rear windows and they work wonders. Now, you can safely take your coat off during a concert in the peak of winter!

The five large windows located in the garden room and front hall are fitted with the latest vacuum-insulated glass. This glass is as thick as a single pane but insulates better than HR++. What’s more, it looks exactly like the original windows.

We currently sit at a respectable “B” energy rating but have eagerly begun making our way down the road towards an “A” rating.

Photo (S.L.Movig): The latest-of-the-new for an old monument

By: Søren Ludvig Movig