Sustainable Energy Ireland’s (SEI) sustainable energy programme, Dundalk 2020, a four-square kilometre Sustainable Energy Zone has been created in Dundalk which includes residential, industrial, retail/commercial/leisure buildings, local educational establishments and a hospital. The zone provides a showcase of some of the innovative technologies, policies and practices that will be needed in order to develop sustainable energy communities in town and cities in Ireland and across Europe.
Dundalk was chosen as a role model for towns and communities everywhere and has become a leader in addressing the challenges of sustainability. By 2020, it is hoped the following goals are achieved:
- Newly built homes are built to SEI ‘House of Tomorrow’ (HOT) standard to make them 40% more energy efficient than conventional homes
- Existing low-income housing are refurbished to bring them in line with energy requirements of a conventional home
- SEI works with the educational establishments in the zone (Dundalk Institute of Technology and a secondary school)
- A boiler plant fuelled by locally sourced woodchip provides hot water for homes and businesses
- New street lights are powered by a combination of solar panels and micro wind turbines
- A wind turbine generates renewable energy for industry in the zone
The zone will deliver energy cost-savings for consumers – providing savings on electricity and heating bills, making homes more comfortable and allowing them to make a vital contribution to reducing climate change. It will also promise the following:
- Significant improvements in energy performance in homes, offices, factories, colleges, leisure and shopping facilities, hospitals and other public buildings
- Reduced dependence on foreign imports of oil, coal and gas
- Production of more locally-generated heat and electricity from renewable resources
- Manage energy supplies more effectively
Environmental benefits may also be realised by reducing carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 10,000 tonnes every year from 2010.
A vital outcome of the project is the accompanying research that will seek to understand how people’s perceptions, attitudes and behaviour are changed – in their homes, at work or at leisure – by living in a more sustainable environment.
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