Dublin City Council (DCC) install an air to water heat pump system and LED lighting at Little Stars Creche as part of their focused effort to reduce carbon emissions and deliver on 2020 climate targets.


  • 30%

    grant received from SEAI
  • Energy savings

    results due in September 2020

Key achievements

Installed renewable technology

A heat pump and LED lights were installed to improve energy efficiency


Reduced running costs

Financial and energy savings are expected to reduce significantly, with initial calculations due in September 2020


Improved comfort levels

A warmer, brighter crèche for the children and staff attending Little Stars crèche

The Project

Dublin City Council are actively trying to learn about and implement sustainable energy practices, which can support their delivery of the Climate Action Plan targets. They  embarked on this energy upgrade project at Little Stars Creche  to gain a better understanding of the challenges involved in switching from a traditional gas boiler heating system to a heat pump system.

Following an energy survey, the decision to select Little Stars crèche for this project was based on several factors:

  1. The existing heating system consisted of an underfloor system which is particularly suitable for a heat pump system as both are designed to operate at lower temperatures
  2. The building itself had adequate levels of insulation, also making it suitable for a heat pump
  3. The lighting upgrade would reduce running costs as well as providing better lighting for the creche
  4. The projected payback period of under 15 years from both measures

A new 16kW air to water hydro split heat pump system along with associated controls was installed in the crèche as well as a BMS (Building Management System). The BMS provides DCC with remote access to allow them to adjust the various settings and temperature set points of the heating system, at the request of the crèche. It also sends alarm alerts in the event of an issue occurring with the heat pump so that any technical issue can be dealt with promptly. DCC had not previously installed this type of heat pump system in a commercial building so they relied on the support and guidance from several experts. The process required input from DCC’s consultant engineer, the heat pump manufacturer, DCC’s BMS (Building Management System) supplier and mechanical contractor to co-ordinate collectively in delivering this project.

As well as upgrading the heating system, all of the internal lights in the creche were replaced with high performance LED lights.  This process was more straightforward to implement.

Both energy upgrade measures were completed in the allocated timeframe of 4 weeks with the heat pump installation taking the most amount of time.


 Although successfully implemented, DCC encountered some challenges in delivering this project. The plant room, which was located inside the main creche area was only available after 1pm each day. This proved challenging for contractors. who had to work late into the evenings to make up the time lost in the morning. Co-ordination between DCC, mechanical contractors and heat pump supplier was challenging for all, as DCC were still learning and adapting to the installation and integration of heat pumps to an existing heating system.

On a more positive note, staff at the creche have noticed an improvement in their comfort levels at work. Now that DCC have successfully integrated a heat pump into a small commercial building, they can look to roll this out in other similar buildings Energy results for this project are expected in September 2020.

“DCC has learned that heat pumps can be successfully integrated and retrofitted into small commercial buildings like the crèche project. The important advice DCC would give to others looking to carry out similar projects would be to ensure that that all heat load calculations are carried out before works commence. This will  ensure that the heat pump is sized correctly and will operate efficiently.”  David Cummins, Executive Engineer at Dublin City Council.