The Cork branch of the charity Down Syndrome Ireland lift their ‘Field of Dreams’ education and training centre to new heights with solar panels and energy upgrades.

Key Achievements

  • €543

    Electrical Energy Savings
  • €734

    Renewable Energy Savings
  • 2,666 kg

    of Carbon Savings

About Field of Dreams

Down Syndrome Cork’s ‘Field of Dreams’ project was built in 2017 to provide development opportunities for adults with Down Syndrome for ongoing learning and skills growth. Set in a  threeacre, horticultural site in Curraheen, Cork, Field of Dreams is a training environment, with an emphasis on learning through meaningful and productive tasks in social settings. Participants can grow chemical free produce for their local community, while also selling plants, tubs, containers, herbs and flowers at their Farm Shop onsite.

Background

In 2022 when Ireland was facing with both an energy crisis and cost-of-living crisis, ‘Field of Dreams’ management team Debbie Kelleher, and Amanda Cooper decided to look at different ways to reduce their energy use and save on costs. They were also motivated by the goal to reduce their carbon footprint. SE Systems, a local building contractor, suggested carrying out an energy audit of the centre. This was a good starting point as an energy audit helps identify the big energy users in a building and provides a list of actions that can be taken to reduce energy use and improve efficiency.

Following the audit they were able to formulate a plan of action, ultimately deciding to install solar PV panels for electricity generation. The solar panels suit the surroundings very well, as they’re ground mounted and south facing, which is ideally suited for maximizing PV panel efficiency. The project co-ordinator, SE Systems, submitted the grant application which made the process as easy as possible, and they secured a corporate donation to fund the remainder of the project.

Project Upgrades

They already had two heat pumps installed on site along with a solar powered electric fence. As part of the project, they got heating controls for their heat pump which allowed for increased control and cost savings. They also upgraded the insulation for several doors throughout the premises, while also upgrading their light controls by installing occupancy sensors.

Results

As a result of these upgrades, they have experienced reduced energy bills, which has been a tremendous help given that it's a not-for-profit organisation. A monitoring and targeting system was also installed onsite to provide greater oversight of visual consumption trends so the organisation can continue reducing overall usage.

“It’s a huge environmental benefit and a significant cost saving measure for our charity especially during this energy crises with ever increasing electricity costs. This has the potential to reduce our energy overheads significantly.” Debbie Kelleher, Care Co-ordinator

From an education standpoint, it has been very useful for the students to understand energy, which is why coordinators have been showing students energy consumption trends on the recently installed monitor. It has also helped in terms of fund-raising as it demonstrates their continued commitment to sustainability. The project has delivered great peace of mind that the organisation is more environmentally conscious and doing their bit to help conserve energy by using renewable resources.

 

  • Project Costs: €16,276

  • SEAI funded €8,138 which was 50% as a non-profit project

  • Received €3,424 in additional supports through the scheme

Project Coordinated by SE Systems

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