Staff members Judit Pilisi (Duty Manager) Dervlla Considine (Duty Manager) Eoin Conlon (General Manager)and Jamie Fitzgibbon (Supervisor) at the newly opened Lahich Leisure Centre. Photograph: Natasha Barton. 

A NEWLY renovated leisure centre in North-West Clare claims to be among the most green and sustainable facilities of its type in the country.

Lahinch Leisure Centre reopened to the public on Friday (April 22nd) following conclusion of a €6m refurbishment which took over two and a half years to complete and includes the provision of 120 solar panels on the roof of the building.

During this time, there was a strong shift from use of fossil fuels to sustainable energy in the facility, General Manager Eoin Conlon explained. “We put a lot of emphasis on the development on energy management systems, we’ve transitioned from a heavy fossil fuel system and really developed the sustainable side of things. We’ve 120 solar panels, we also burn wood pellets so there isn’t oil burners, we’ve two wood pellet boilers and also have geo-thermal heat pumps, we’ve gone completely away from the fossil fuel area and to sustainable energy”.

He outlined, “all of the VA2 systems are developed by recycling plastic bottles, the VA2 systems would be again on that sustainable aspect of it, there’s been fabulous work done by Tipp Energy and Kelly’s RAC in developing those systems. We’re very excited to be able to do that in this day and age to develop something where our carbon footprint is lessened”.

While unsure on the exact amount of plastic bottles used, Eoin said their presence was critical to the development. “The VA2 system is made up of a sock almost and the air is filtered through the sock, all the air is pushed out through this sock, the material in it was developed through the recycling of plastic bottles, it is not a plastic aspect, it was developed through recycling those bottles”.

According to the Doora native, the location of the centre directly opposite the sea underlines the importance of the climate to the people in the area. “For the area we’re in with the sea and the environment around us, it is something that people are very aware of and we’ve really concentrated on that”.

Having previously held similar roles in Limerick and Killaloe, Eoin was adamant that Lahinch Leisure Centre could now class itself as one of the most green and sustainable leisure centres on the island of Ireland. “I would imagine we would have developed a lot of the systems on that basis, we would have been leading in that. Tipp Energy and the SEAI have been auditing the leisure centre recently in terms of that, they have been extremely happy with how the results have gone. We have 120 solar panels on the roof so you can see exactly how we’re using the energy which is available at reception to see, you can see the amount of kilowatts per hour that we initiate with the solar panels. With the wood pellets, it is another sustainable product and the heat pumps are geo-thermal so the heat is coming from the earth. We are one of the leading leisure centres in the country with regards to sustainability”.

Pool temperatures will be maintained by geo-thermal energy, he stated. “The wood pellet burner would do the heating system for the facility itself like the heat from the VA2 system which pumps in the hot air when needed, the solar panels on a good day will be generating 90 percent if not more of our own electricity through the solar panels, on a dull day we might need a little back up from the grid but generally speaking we might even be in excess for most of the summer generating our own electricity through solar panels and possibly adding back to the grid”.

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