The Monasterboice Inn has recently extended its premises by 25%, while at the same time reducing energy costs with support from SEAI.

The Inn is located north of Drogheda on the main Dublin Belfast route. They constructed a new conference centre extension and dramatically upgraded the energy efficiency of their premises using SEAI’s EXEED (Excellence in Energy Efficient Design) certification programme.

SEAI’s EXEED encourages innovation in how we design and manage projects and is driving the adoption of longer-term solutions to the energy challenges we face. The benefit of EXEED is that energy performance is considered at the very beginning of the design of a new build or major upgrade project, reducing energy consumption and operational costs for the lifetime of the building. In addition, SEAI supports up to €500,000 per year to businesses or public bodies applying EXEED in the design of projects.

Commenting on EXEED, Jim Gannon, CEO of SEAI, said

“SEAI is already supporting over 70 businesses in achieving EXEED certification and significantly reducing their energy consumption. Last year, SEAI invested €1.6 million in EXEED projects ranging from educational facilities, to pharmaceutical companies to public buildings. Projects that consider energy performance and energy management at the design stage can save up to 30% in energy use and typically save on capital expenditure for new investments.”

The upgrade of the Monasterboice Inn was led by the owner Roseanne Donegan and the general manager Karl Murphy. While planning their new conference centre, they realised that the stream running through the site would need to be re-piped. Their heating company Eurotech had the expertise to harness its energy, but recommended they go further and use a design-led approach to improving energy performance.

Their motivation was to do business responsibly using less fossil fuels and to lower costs. Roseanne Donegan talks about their environmental motivations

The biggest problem with climate change, is that everybody thinks somebody else is going to solve it. We all need to live and do business responsibly. If everybody does something, no matter how small, it will encourage others to do likewise and then maybe tipping point could be avoided. Certainly, at this point, doing nothing is not an option. It also makes commercial sense

The challenge, in the beginning, was to get all of the design team on board. Their EXEED consultant was key in this. He held meetings with all involved before the build, ensuring that they understood the concept of a design-led approach.

They now use this approach in everything they do. For example, if they are buying a new oven, they consider its energy usage before purchase. Their managers are aware of their daily energy usage.

They designed the new conference centre to maximise natural daylight and provide an attractive bright space. There is now high-grade insulation throughout the building, and it has been made as airtight as possible and includes triple-A glazed windows. Although initially, this resulted in a higher build cost, they now have a more comfortable building that is cheaper to run.

They installed smart lighting in their conference rooms and car parks. The lighting is lux level and light sensor controlled. This gives perfect lighting, and uses far less energy.

The old gas boilers were replaced with heat pumps. The heat pumps provide heating and cooling to the building. Energy is extracted from an onsite stream. The pumps take moisture from the atmosphere and convert it to heat using very little electricity. They also capture the hot air from the extractor fans and use it to heat water. This heat was previously being wasted. Both systems work in tandem, using their own intelligence to choose the most efficient source on the day, depending on the climate and the building’s demand. They have smart controls that manage the various sources of heat and cooling. This system is responsive and provides much better control.

The payback on this project is expected to be three and a half years. Commenting on the future plans for improving energy performance, Roseanne Donegan, owner of the Monasterboice Inn says

“We have seen the results of a design-led approach and want to continue improving the energy performance and environmental credentials of our building. We have plans to build rooms in the same eco-friendly fashion taking account of building orientation and natural sources of power, right down to the lights being fitted to the correct lux level. All of our refrigeration units in the kitchen and the bar will be cooled from the stream in the near future.

The customer feedback has been very positive, from an aesthetic and comfort point of view. We intend to promote the positive environmental impact of our work with customers. We will display our EXEED award, and show our energy use in real time, by way of a graph displayed in the restaurant.

SEAI’s EXEED funding is open to all public and private organisations who are planning energy investment projects of any scale or complexity. Applications for 2019 will open early in the year. Please contact to be notified when the date is announced and to start planning your projects.