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In March 2024 I attended a Frugal Cities Conference in Lifetime Labs in Cork city on behalf of Carbery Housing Association.


Cork has joined 100 climate neutral cities who are trying to combat climate change and make peoples homes warmer and better. Cork has a climate action plan which covers everything from leadership to housing, transport and much more.  A survey of people in Cork showed that over 86% of people said we needed to take action on climate change and wellbeing.

 

There is a new housing development as you come into Cork from the West, Ardrostif, its main aim is to develop sufficiency and cooperation within the housing . The site is within walking distance of shops, schools, doctors, etc. so people don’t need to get in their cars to access what they need everyday. All  houses are A2 rated and have heat pumps. It just makes sense. It is also on a very good bus route. Personally I think this is the sort of housing development we need more of. 


We had a talk from  Gobnait of Codema Energy who told us about a home energy kit that can be borrowed from local libraries . It was developed so people can easily find out how much energy they are using and for what. 


Katherine from SEAI told us that 50% of houses in Ireland have a D rating or below  with heat being lost through the roof, walls, doors, windows and floors.  So we all need to better insulate our homes to keep warm and save energy. The government supports this and there are grants to help. 


Giovanni from the Irish Green Building Council told us how it is important to close the loop in the supply of building materials so that we use them more responsibly, reuse if we can and recycle what has been used. 49 countries are already doing this including France and Italy. 

We also talked about active travel, local food, composting and reusable cloth nappies. 

All these cut down on waste, save money and help the environment. 


If anyone would like anymore information then please contact me. 

Liz Coakley Wakefield. 

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Carbery Housing Association (CHA), is delighted to report that tenants in the four houses retrofitted with solar panels, battery storage, storage heaters and smart meters under the EU-funded pilot project ‘RED WoLF’ Project are already saving money on their energy bills, as well as reducing their carbon footprint by as much as 80%.


The project was launched in February this year, at an event in CECAS at Leap, attended by project partners from around Ireland, the UK, France and Luxembourg as well as representatives of local Sustainable Energy Community ‘Net Zero Skibbereen’ and other interested members of the local community.


The innovative domestic energy system, consisting of solar PV panels, storage heaters and a battery, was installed by contractor Eurotech Renewables. Tenants are already seeing a significant drop in their energy bills and are also benefiting from additional savings on their bill as any unused energy generated is sold back to the grid. CHA representatives Ana and Jose Ospina recently


visited the tenants , to ensure they were happy with the new system.


One tenant told them: “We’re delighted with the RED WoLF system, it’s really simple to use and is already saving us money - our latest electricity bill was only €61 for the past 2 months. We are getting most of our hot water for free and we’re looking forward to cheaper heating costs next winter.”


In addition to saving their money, CHA tenants will save around 115 kg of carbon per year, due to the system’s special algorithm, which controls when power is drawn from the PV panels, battery or the grid, depending on the carbon-intensity at any moment of the day or night. CHA is committed to retrofitting all of its properties to the highest possible standards of energy efficiency and has increased the building energy ratings of these 4 houses from an average D2 rating to an average of B2. In addition to the new heating system, CHA has also addressed insulation and draft-proofing issues in the four houses.


Chair of CHA, José Ospina, had this to say about the project: “We are delighted to be part of this innovative, cutting-edge pilot project and we firmly believe that the RED WoLF system is a viable alternative fossil-fuel based heating systems and superior to the heat-pump based retrofit approach that is being widely promoted and employed around the country. In our view, the RED WoLF system provides more benefits for the residents and fewer disadvantages, especially when dealing with older properties with poor insulation, where a full deep retrofit is not feasible.”

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From the 27th to the 28th of September, CHA travelled to Luxembourg for the 4th in-person meeting of the RED WoLF partnership. Now that some of the pilots are up and running, this was the perfect time to come together and share our experiences and learning since we last met up in June. The meeting was organised by project partners eco:novis, who gave us a warm welcome to the modern and comfortable youth hostel which was our venue for the duration of our visit. Alex and Kerstin introduced their organisation and spoke a little about how things work in terms of domestic energy Luxembourg. This was followed by an update from lead partner Giuseppe, of Leeds Beckett University (LBU), UK. After this we heard from Sasha, also from LBU, about the more technical aspects of the project. This was followed by Dave and Ben from Oldham Council, UK, who talked about the progress of the market capitalization plan and shared interesting updates on variable energy tariffs which are becoming available in the UK. The reported back on their recent successful meeting with the Octopus Energy group and the potential for collaboration between them and RED WoLF. After this we had a presentation on some exciting marketing ideas from Kerstin and a presentation from Kevin from eco:novis relating to the RED WoLF algorithm.


After the coffee break, we talked about other potential funding opportunities for the future of the project and Michelle from SOS UK gave us an update on this year's RED WoLF Summer School, happening in October. The partners shared a lunch at the hostel, after which the pilot partners all gave updates on their progress. Stevie from Sligo ATU and Peter from Glas Energy reported on the Cork City and CHA pilots. Ben from Energiepark gave us a preview of the installations we would be visiting the following day. After the second coffee break, there was an explanation and discussion on the deliverables that are due during the next reporting period. The meeting was adjourned around 4.30pm and after a short break, the partners came back together at the Bacchus restaurant for a delicious dinner.


The following day, we met again near the hostel to catch a bus to Energiepark's offices in the nearby town of Beckerich. We had a welcome introduction from Ben and his colleague and then visited two of the pilot sites. It was very interesting to hear about how these developments came about and how the energy provision is managed. The houses are built to a very high level of sustainability and are heated using ground source heat pumps. We got on the bus and went back to Luxembourg in time for lunch. The meeting came to an end and the partners disbanded before heading back to their respective countries. Another successful meeting concluded!

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