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Retrofitting Initiative in Ireland Offers a Lifeline to Remote Homeowners

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Retrofitting Initiative in Ireland Offers a Lifeline to Remote Homeowners

Retrofitting Initiative in Ireland Offers a Lifeline to Remote Homeowners
April 12
11:16 2024

As climate change intensifies, Ireland faces increasing threats to its water, energy sources, and infrastructure, particularly in remote communities. To address these challenges and enhance climate resilience, a LIFE project is assisting homeowners in retrofitting their buildings while fostering partnerships.

Despite Ireland’s relatively temperate climate, the nation grapples with vulnerabilities in energy generation, water resources, and aging infrastructure. Factors such as dispersed and older homes, heavy reliance on oil and solid fuels, and fragmented supply chains contribute to high living costs and inefficient heating systems. Retrofitting homes, although crucial for sustainability, often proves confusing and costly.

In alignment with Ireland’s Climate Action Plan, which aims for a 51% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050, one key target is to retrofit 500,000 homes by 2030. However, achieving this goal hinges on homeowners’ willingness to invest in retrofitting, despite improving government financial support.

Enter LIFE Local Energy Agencies for Peripheral Regions (LIFE LEAP), a component of the LIFE Clean Energy Transition programme. Operating in Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, and west county Galway, LIFE LEAP supports homeowners in retrofitting their homes and collaborates with local suppliers. In regions like Donegal, where winter temperatures dip to 2-3 degrees Celsius, retrofitting is essential for resilience.

LIFE LEAP has established three Local Energy Agencies – North West Energy Agency (NWEA), Gníomhaireacht Fuinnimh an Iarthar (GFI), and Sligo Leitrim Energy Agency (SLEA) – to serve as one-stop shops for communities seeking building upgrades and navigating local supply chains. Over four years, these agencies will facilitate partnerships across home renovation services, including energy assessors and retrofit contractors.

Led by Atlantic Technological University (ATU) in collaboration with local councils, Údarás na Gaeltachta, and Aran Island Energy Co-op, LIFE LEAP aims to empower homeowners to invest in energy-efficient upgrades that enhance property value and reduce heating costs.

Reflecting on the project’s impact, Paraic Barrett, Manager at GFI, emphasizes the newfound accessibility for homeowners seeking retrofitting guidance. Aidan McGrenra, Manager at NWEA, highlights the project’s focus on developing area-based retrofit programs, while Barry Lowe, Manager at SLEA, underscores the initiative’s success in delivering home upgrades through grant schemes.

Aligned with EU directives on energy efficiency, air quality, renewable energy, and building performance, LIFE LEAP contributes to the European Green Deal’s objective of addressing energy poverty and fostering sustainable communities. Through collaborative efforts and targeted support, initiatives like LIFE LEAP offer a pathway towards a more resilient and sustainable future for Ireland’s remote homeowners.

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