De­lighted ten­ants go green in Coun­cil hous­ing ini­tia­tive

Bray People - - News - Deborah COLE­MAN

TEN COUNTY WICK­LOW fam­i­lies are this week set­tling into their beau­ti­ful new homes in Knockananna.

This may seem like a reg­u­lar oc­cu­rance in a re­gion the size of Wick­low but for th­ese ten fam­i­lies they are the thrilled re­cip­i­ents of the first houses in a pi­lot scheme to of­fer state-of-the-art ‘eco-houses’ to ap­pli­cants on a County Coun­cil wait­ing list any­where in Ire­land.

The launch of th­ese en­vi­ron­men­tal­lyfriendly prop­er­ties has been hailed as a break­through and the ten­ants and their fam­i­lies are quick to agree with this.

‘The houses are bril­liant, so much big­ger and brighter than our last house. There is hardly any work to be done as long as the timers are set. The hot wa­ter lasts for ages due to the so­lar pan­els, and with three daugh­ters that is a good thing. All I have to do is hoover out a small amount of ash from the wood pel­let boiler ev­ery cou­ple of days. Also it is so much more eco­nom­i­cal. A bag of pel­lets lasts a cou­ple of weeks and only costs ¤3.75,’ ex­plains Stacey Tal­lon, who lives with her hus­band James and their three chil­dren.

For neigh­bour Ann Hef­fer­nan the house has been a gift es­pe­cially as she suf­fers from COPD, a con­di­tion which is ag­gra­vated by dusty en­vi­ron­ments such as that caused by an open fire.

‘The ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem is fan­tas­tic. I hardly need to use my in­halers now and the heat is in­cred­i­ble from just an hour with the boiler on. I am thrilled to be moved in now and my fam­ily love the house. It is so comfortable and mod­ern and very easy to use since the coun­cil spent a day show­ing us the work­ings,’ she says.

‘So lit­tle fuel is needed to run the house and even when the heat­ing is off the warmth is kept in­side for hours. We have the tem­per­a­ture at the low­est level and it is still very warm,’ she adds.

Hailed as the houses of the fu­ture, the low- den­sity and aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing de­vel­op­ment has been highly praised due to its en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly and eco­nom­i­cal de­sign with each unit es­ti­mated to run on 64 per cent less en­ergy than older prop­er­ties.

A num­ber of hi-tech fea­tures have been in­stalled to en­sure that the dormer-style houses are low en­ergy and pro­duce low emis­sions of CO2 in­clud­ing so­lar pan­els, wood pel­let stoves, heat re­cov­ery ven­ti­la­tion sys­tems which en­sure the so­lar pan­els work to a greater stan­dard to heat the home and wa­ter, and a highly in­su­lated tim­ber frame de­sign.

Without a ra­di­a­tor in site the units are much warmer than their con­crete coun­ter­parts and a mod­ern ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem en­sures that no heat es­capes from the prop­erty but in­stead is re­newed and fil­tered as it cir­cu­lates through the sys­tem.

Any fears of a short­age of wood pel­lets or dif­fi­culty in sourc­ing them have been calmed by many lo­cal stores who have started to stock them es­pe­cially for the new ten­ants.

An out­door bunker has been pro­vided with each prop­erty with a twenty- bag ca­pac­ity en­sur­ing that they will never run out of fuel.

Ten­ants now en­joy a high stan­dard of ac­com­mo­da­tion while ben­e­fit­ting from re­duced en­ergy bills.

It is es­ti­mated that while the av­er­age oil pow­ered prop­erty will cost in the re­gion of ¤1,000 to heat an­nu­ally th­ese prop­er­ties will use just ¤500 worth of fuel.

In ad­vance of the project a vast amount of anal­y­sis was car­ried out by coun­cil of­fi­cials to de­ter­mine whether or not th­ese mod­ern units would be fi­nan­cially vi­able and if there would be a de­mand for them from ap­pli­cants on the wait­ing list.

An ini­tial ap­pli­ca­tion to con­struct 22 prop­er­ties was lodged but per­mis­sion was granted for ten on a pi­lot ba­sis with mon­i­tor­ing to be un­der­taken be­fore the fi­nal 12 will be com­pleted.

Un­precen­dented in­ter­est was shown by those on the wait­ing list and it is now hoped that fur­ther eco-houses will emerge in Co. Wick­low.

In re­cent months since the project came to fruition a num­ber of agen­cies from across the EU and from other lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in Ire­land have vis­ited Knockananna to in­spect the es­tate for them­selves.

It is ex­pected that they will be used as a model for fu­ture projects due to their suc­cess.

Now that the build­ing stage has cond­cluded the mon­i­tor­ing stage will com­mence.

‘Care­ful mon­i­tor­ing of the houses will com­mence now and will be com­pared to other units to de­ter­mine the sav­ings to be made and ef­fi­ciency of the sys­tems. Wick­low County Coun­cil, the ten­ants and NuTech Re­new­ables will mon­i­tor the en­ergy per­for­mance of the houses and will re­port on the en­ergy bal­ances to en­sure that the de­sign is func­tion­ing cor­rectly,’ ex­plained Stephen O’Sul­li­van, Scheme De­signer and Project Man­ager.

Ac­cord­ing to Coun­cil­lor Nicky Kelly, the launch of th­ese prop­er­ties has cre­ated lo­cal au­thor­ity his­tory.

‘It is fan­tas­tic to see coun­cil prop­er­ties con­structed which equal if not sur­pass pri­vate de­vel­op­ments. This re­ally is the fu­ture of lo­cal au­thor­ity hous­ing and al­ready they have at­tracted a lot of in­ter­est from EU agen­cies. I would very much like to see fur­ther eco-houses sanc­tioned across County Wick­low.’

The Hef­fer­nan fam­ily - Laura, Anne, Emma and Ed­ward - are some of the happy new ten­ants.

Sarah Tal­lon, An­nie Tal­lon, Sarah Kennedy, Katie Tal­lon and Leanne Hef­fer­nan by one of the stoves that burns eco-friendly wood­chip pel­lets, one of the many ‘green’ fea­tures in the new County Coun­cil houses at Knockananna (be­low).

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