Ards Friary in Creeslough, Co. Donegal needed extensive renovation to make it more comfortable and economical to operate. The aim was also to move towards greater self-sufficiency.


  • 404k

    kWh of annual energy savings
  • €43,164

    Cost savings

Key achievements

Reduced energy costs

The energy running costs of the Retreat Centre have been reduced by 49% immediately following the project.

Secure supply

There are two alternative means of heat source which means that security of supply is guaranteed at all times.

Ability to self sustain

The installation of biomass will allow the retreat to develop their own fuel supplies from the estate in the future.

Supply based on needs

The added control features offered by the BEMS allow the building to be selectively heated to meet occupancy demands.

The project

 Annual energy (kWh)Annual costs (€)Annual CO2 (kg)
Before project 918,298 87,712 1,109,650
After project 513,592 44,548 80,934
Savings 404,706 (44% saving) 43,164 (49% saving) 1,028,716 (90% saving)

The 3,500 sq.m building includes a church and associated areas, 50 bedrooms, several common rooms, a laundry, workshops and catering facilities.

Boiler upgrades

Prior to this project, the building heating requirements were met by two 300 kW boilers, while a smaller 176 kW boiler was used for summer domestic hot water generation. These have now been replaced by a lead 250 kW biomass boiler, fuelled by timber sourced and chipped on the estate, and supported by a 250 kW LPG condensing boiler for standby and top up. The biomass boiler is configured to burn wood with moisture contents of between 30% and 50%, and has a rated operational efficiency of 92% at full load.

The condensing LPG boiler has a certified seasonal efficiency of 94%, and low NOx emissions easily meeting current BREEAM requirements. Wood fuel handling is via a 100 cubic-metre wood fuel storage compound, incorporating a roller shutter door to allow the tipping of wood chip into the bunker.

Window replacement

The energy performance of the building has been improved by replacing 85 metal-framed, single-glazed windows with PVC units with a maximum U value of 1.8 W/sq-mK. The ground floor has been split into strategic zones, allowing space heating to be delivered only when and where required. In addition, energy metering has been installed and connected to a new central building energy management system.

LPG drier

Electricity demand has been reduced by replacing a 10 kW electric clothes drier with an LPG drier.

“The project has made this special building more comfortable, inviting and economical.” 
Benito Colangelo, Manager, Ards Friary Retreat and Conference Centre
“Energy use has been approached holistically by addressing the building fabric, heat generation and electrical installations.” 
Christopher Boyle, Managing Director, CB Engineering Consultancy

Finance and funding

Financial support: €143,558 (35% grant from SEAI)
Capital cost: €410,167
Payback time: 9.2 years
Savings verification: Retrofit isolation – key parameter


Benito Colangelo
Ards Friary Retreat and Conference Centre

Contractor / Consultant / Supplier

Christopher Boyle, MD
Coordinator and M&E consultant
CB Engineering Consultancy

Morgan Meenan Architects

J Coyle Quantity Surveyors