When members of the Drombane-Upperchurch village group in Tipperary got together in 2011 to discuss economic solutions for their community, they considered many ideas, from wind farms to a local ski slope. After several meetings with Tipperary Energy Agency and North Tipperary Leader Partnership, they settled on a community housing retrofit scheme. The aim of the scheme was to convert many of the houses in the locality to high energy performing homes. This would result in warmer homes, lower fuel bills, and the creation of local jobs.
Their work and resilience in getting this project off the ground was recognised at the Community and Council awards at the Crown Plaza hotel on Saturday night (January 25th), where they won the Best Community Renewable Energy Project prize. The Drombane – Upperchurch group will now go forward to the prestigious finale of the European Academy Energy Awards in the Netherlands in Autumn 2014.
Now that this locally-run model is successfully up and running, the plan is to spread the word and repeat the work. Community worker Gearóid Fitzgibbon said “This project demonstrates the employment and financial benefits of local insulation schemes. If other communities were to follow the lead shown by Drombane-Upperchurch and if we were to all change our energy use habits, then communities around Ireland could cut their energy bills in half. Imagine if these savings and jobs multiplied out to every community in Ireland!”
In total the 400 houses in Drombane and Upperchurch spend €1,000,000 on home energy. Once the whole community is retrofitted, the Energy Team expects to save householders a total of €250,000 per annum (25%).
Paul Kenny, CEO Tipperary Energy Agency is pictured above with members of the Drombane-Upperchurch Energy Team – Con Harrington, Noel Byrne and Olive Byrne