Local energy-conscious community groups have engaged with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), a body set up by government with a view to transforming Ireland into a society based on sustainable energy.
The efforts were part of Better Energy Communities, an SEAI initiative that supports new approaches to achieving high quality improvements in energy efficiency.
The programme focusses on improving the energy efficiency of Ireland’s building stock, while supporting the use of renewable energy. It seeks to help businesses and communities complete energy improvements in a more efficient and cost-effective way by clustering buildings in a locality under one umbrella project.
One local group that took part in the Better Energy Communities programme last year was St. Andrew’s community project. Centred around the St Andrew’s Resource Centre, located on Pearse Street, the St Andrew’s team was a co-ordinated effort between Dublin City Council, the Docklands Business Forum, the local St Patrick’s Credit Union, Codema, Wattless, the ESB and Energy Wise Construction to form an action group that strove for and implemented the energy efficient improvements of buildings in the area.
Some of the energy saving measures that were implemented under the project included upgrading lighting to energy efficient LED lights in St. Andrew’s Resource Centre, Irishtown Stadium and Block E at Pearse House flats. The measures undertaken at Pearse House focused on the public access balcony lighting, which was upgraded to LED lighting with presence detectors and night-time dimming capacity.
The Docklands Business Forum and St Patrick’s Credit Union provided support through advice, direct finance and competitive loans to St Andrew’s Resource Centre to help it complete its measures, while the Credit Union also offered a very competitive loan rate of 5.5% to those in the community who were involved in works.
The project reduced energy consumption, saving the community in excess of €18,000 over the year, and the plan is to invest that money back into the community. The long-term goal of the project is to establish the foundation for a sustainable energy community in the area by demonstrating successful outcomes from Better Energy Communities 2016 with the hope of attracting greater interest in the wider community for future programmes.
Administrator of St Andrew’s John Fitzsimons told NewsFour: “We are delighted with the project. It allowed us to upgrade our energy saving facilities and to become more environmentally friendly. I would encourage anyone to get involved in similar projects.”
The Better Energy Communities scheme is closed to applications for this year but will be accepting a new round of applications for next year. Details of the scheme, and guidelines and forms for applying for funding for new energy saving ideas and community projects, can be accessed at: http://www.seai.ie/Grants/Better_Energy_Communities/
By Harry Bradley