Brian Russell, Principal of Youghalarra NS, Brian Stanley, Vice Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action and Paul Kenny CEO of Tipperary Energy Agency.
The Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action visited Tipperary this week.
The Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action visited Tipperary in preparation for a report on the issue of climate change. Seán Sherlock TD, Tom Neville TD, Brian Stanley TD, Thomas Pringle TD, John Lahart TD, Senator Ian Marshall and Senator Paul Daly were given a tour of Tipperary’s sustainable projects hosted by Tipperary Energy Agency.
Firstly, they visited a family home in Nenagh and Youghalarra school where they got an insight into the benefits of energy efficient retrofitting. The buildings are a part of the Sustainable Tipp initiative which is working to transform Tipperary’s housing, commercial, public and community buildings over three years. The initiative assists communities, farmers, homeowners and business owners to save energy and money while becoming sustainable.
Margaret Hennessy from Nenagh is the owner of one of the 150 SuperHomes in Ireland which has been retrofitted to A3 standard energy efficiency.
Her home has energy efficient heating and water systems along with PV roof panels for generating power. Margaret saves €1500 a year as she never needs to use fossil fuels. She praises the benefits of her sustainable home, saying “It is a comfortable home with constant hot water. Our electricity bill is slightly higher, but we have to get used to that and remind ourselves that we are not buying oil or solid fuel.”
Youghalarra School was the next stop for the committee. The school introduced a heat pump and solar panels which has transformed their cold and damp school. Brian Russell, Principal of Youghlarra School says “The heat recover system sucks out the stale air in the evening and pumps in fresh air to the building. From 2pm onwards the pupils are more alert and more energetic.” The changes made to the rural school has seen savings in fuel costs and happier pupils.
Brian Stanley, Vice Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action commented on the school, saying, “What has been done with this school shows that you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save money on energy and warm schools in a sustainable and healthy way.”
With emissions in Ireland on the rise by two million tonnes per year, Tipperary Energy Agency urge home owners, schools and businesses to consider making sustainable changes. Paul Kenny, CEO of Tipperary Energy Agency commented, “What we do in Tipperary is what they do in countries like Sweden, Denmark, Austria and other countries around Europe. We want to showcase how it works in an Irish context with Irish people, Irish engineers and Irish home owners.”
The Oireachtas members also visited Nenagh Leisure Centre and the Cloughjordan Ecovillage. In 2014 Nenagh Leisure Centre reopened after extensive refurbishment and the addition of a solar PV on the roof of the pool hall. This system provides over 10% of the buildings annual electricity from a clean renewable source. Cloughjordan is Ireland’s first eco-village and comprises of 67 acres of beautiful and fertile land, where the community has built 53 low energy homes and work units to date reducing the carbon footprint of the village. Additionally, residents of the village grow their own food and plant trees to promote biodiversity.
In 2017, just 37 per cent of new homes fitted heating systems which use renewable energy. A staggering 63 per cent used tradition fossil fuel boilers. Tipperary Energy Agency say that these homes will eventually need to be retrofitted, including new and replacement heating systems. It is estimated that only 1 in 7 heating systems are renewable.
Tipperary Energy Agency is a non-profit social enterprise that has been leading the energy transition, locally and nationally, for 20 years.
The organisation has been supporting Tipperary to reduce its energy demand through their social enterprise model that enables them to provide cost effective and practical solutions.