Solar panels could be installed on the roofs of stands and clubhouses to help generate free electricity for GAA clubs
Looking to the future, GAA clubs will have to, and should, embrace the green agenda.
A quick look around at the majority of GAA clubs in Tipperary will show the level of investment on the part of those community based organisation who are providing much needed and vital facilities for the multitudes.
Just ask yourself, what would so many people do were it not for the facilities provided by GAA clubs? Where would they go to walk, jog or bring the kids for a cycle? Where would they find a safe environment in which to let the kids play ball on green grass? Where else could they find a place of sanctity where headspace is in abundance and fresh air too?
Yes, the Association and its many grassroot off-shoots have been to the forefront in providing community based facilities and activities for the young and not so young. They have bridged yawning gaps in social infrastructure and have done so on the back of the community in which they exist. They have raised funds through draws, auctions, sales, walks, lottos, concerts and any other form of cash raising they can think of.
With facilities comes cost though and like any domestic home, there will be up-grading required, refurbishment, maintenance etc. So, eventhough premises might not be used , there are still costs - water, heat, light, electricity, grass cutting etc. The bills mount and so too does the sense of responsibility on the part of club officials.
Looking to the future, GAA clubs will have to, and should, embrace the green agenda. There are many gains to be made by going green - not just from an environmental viewpoint, but also from a financial viewpoint.
For instance, with so many club grounds having covered accommodation for spectators, there is a real opportunity to install solar panels on the roof - that could generate enough electricity to heat the premises, run the showers, and perhaps even run the floodlights depending on outage. If connected to the National Grid, it might even be a source of revenue for the club during times of low usage.
Again, with premises, comes storm water. It doesn't take much to create a situation where the rainwater which falls on the roof of the premises is stored in a water rention tank - often just a large oil talk -filtered, and then pumped around the building to supply the showers, taps, toilets, sprinklers etc. thereby cutting down on water bills.
Got some vacant land along the boundary of the premises, or anywhere for that matter? Why not plant trees, or allow the area to re-wild in a bid to promote bio diversity - there is always the temptation to cut every blade of grass to within an inch, but in many settings, wild is the new neat with flowers, colour and long grass being the natural look.
There are grants available through SEAI for householders to retrofit their homes - replacing windows and doors; insulating attics and walls; changing over heat sources from non fossil-fuel burning ones such as geothermal, heat pumps etc; installing rain water harvesting equipment; and supporting many other forms of going green. There are even schemes there for small communities to form co-ops and get involved.
So, why not the GAA clubs? And, any other sportings clubs and organisations who might wish to avail of schemes? Granted, when a funding allocation is made available it usually means that the benefiting organisation has to come up with matching funding to have their own buy-in. But, GAA clubs have been very quick and very efficient at embracing change; finding ways of going things; and ultimately raising the necessary cash to promote such innovations.
Down through the years, clubs have also shown remarkable foresight and now is the time for them to look to the future again in terms of what they can do for their communities and their players. By investing in green initiatives GAA clubs can play a major role in the shaping of Ireland going forward. They can help to create a green awareness; a determination to protects the environment; a dedication to ensuring that their own communities can be as clean and efficient as possible.
The GAA has always been a leader in Irish sport - it can be a leader too in ensuring that sporting organisations are driving the clean air agenda; the desire for biodiversity; and the goal of a batter Ireland for all.
If government is really serious about ensuring that all of the above meausres are incorporated to meet climate change targets, the GAA clubs should be grant aided to help the cause.