Home » Breaking News » Retrofit gives Lahinch Leisure Centre energy to look to future
Heather Humphreys, Minister for Rural and Community Development officially opened the Lahinch Leisure Centre last week. Pictured right are centre manager Eoin Conlan and John Hayes, senior building services engineer, Tipperary Energy Agency.

Retrofit gives Lahinch Leisure Centre energy to look to future

ESB Apprentice Moneypoint

LAHINCH Leisure Centre was spending up to €120,000 just to heat its swimming pool a few years ago. Now, as part of a major €6 million retrofit the complex has been transformed into a Near Zero Energy Building (NZEB).

In an interview with the Clare Champion, John Hayes, Senior Building Services Engineer with contractors Tipperary Energy Agency recalled the centre was spending €120,000 on oil just to heat the pool and half the building.

Mr Hayes estimated the centre will now spend €85,000 annually to heat the entire building.

“Now the heating system is heating all the building at a fraction of the cost. Lahinch Leisure Centre is a great example of what can be achieved in public buildings.

“A lot of swimming pools are still putting in gas boilers. We had an option to keep the old oil boiler as a back-up but we decided to go fully green.

“Lahinch Leisure Centre is a flagship project to show this can be done elsewhere. The savings from May 2017 to May 2022 was 70% factoring in rising fuel costs.

“If the centre was still using oil, the costs would be astronomical and I don’t know if it would be still open.”

The centre’s green transformation began in September 2018 when engineers from TEA completed an energy audit to understand how much energy the building was using and pinpoint necessary works to upgrade the facility.

Following the audit, TEA was appointed Mechanical and Electrical Design Engineers and Energy Consultants.

“This project is the first of its kind in the country where we put in a ground source heat pump. No one else had the funding or the confidence to make this leap,” said Mr Hayes.

“When we surveyed the building initially, the BER (Building Energy Rating) was E. Following the retrofit, Lahinch Leisure Centre is now a best-in-class A rated leisure centre with up to 55% reductions in running costs and CO2 emissions.”

In addition to top of the range insulation and ground source heat pump that heats the pools, solar panels on the roof generate much of the centre’s energy requirements.

Alongside that, the ductwork throughout the centre is made from recycled materials. In fact, no fewer than 3,717 plastic bottles have been repurposed to this effect

Prior to the retrofit, the leisure centre part of which was constructed in 1960, was poorly insulated with single glazed windows and inefficient lighting. It was cold and costly to run.

Previous efforts to upgrade the heating system involved the installation of an air source heat pump. However, this heating system was never fully operational as it was not suitable for the sea air environment and following flooding was no longer in use.

Lahinch Centre manager Eoin Conlan said, “The leisure centre was extremely difficult to heat. Customers complained that all the pools and the changing rooms were cold.

“It was uncomfortable for customers to change and swim in that environment.

“The business itself was unable to sustain the cost of trying to heat the facility.”

The old inefficient lighting has been replaced with a smart LED system which is sensitive to occupancy in the building and daylight.

The rooftops are now home to Solar PV panels which will generate much of the centre’s electricity requirements and includes a battery storage system to store electricity when needed.

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