Leisure Centre Retrofitting in Western Ireland

The Tipperary Energy Agency performed a major retrofit of the Lahinch Leisure Centre, using innovative energy systems and materials to improve efficiency, lower costs, and reduce the building’s footprint.

Leisure Centre Retrofitting in Western Ireland

The Tipperary Energy Agency has completed a successful retrofit of the Lahinch Leisure Centre in Co. Clare, Ireland, improving conditions for customers and decreasing both emissions and costs for managers.

Swimming pool at the Lahinch Leisure Centre

The leisure centre which sits on Ireland’s Atlantic coast was first constructed in 1960. With poor insulation, single glazed windows, and inefficient lighting, it was cold to use and costly to run. In 2018, an initial building survey by Tipperary engineers concluded a Building Energy Rating (BER) of E. Following a two-year retrofit project, the leisure centre is now an A-rated building with Near Zero Energy Building (NEZB) status, and saves both energy and costs while keeping warm.

“The leisure centre was extremely difficult to heat. Customers complained that all 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.”

Eoin Conlon, Lahinch Leisure Centre Manager

Retrofitting efficiency

The first step was to insulate the cavity and external walls, as well as the doors, floors, roof, and windows. A new Smart LED lighting system replaced old, inefficient fixtures, and operates using occupancy detection and daylight sensing systems to further increase efficiency. Furthermore, a 137kW solar PV system was installed on the roof and shall store any excess production in a 30kWh battery system. The retrofit also included the introduction of a geothermal heat pump to heat the pool areas, in conjunction with a 300kW biomass boiler to serve 3 new air handling units throughout the facility.

The above installations resulted in a dramatic transformation in the centre’s energy usage. Prior to the upgrade, the centre consumed energy at an annual rate of 1707kWh per m2; that figure now sits at a rate of 315kWh per m2. From a financial perspective, the improvement is obvious, too: the facility that had run costs of €194,000 per year for oil and electricity is now forecast to spend only €85,000 per year – a cost reduction of 56%. Moreover, the centre has reduced CO2 emissions by 55%.

Heat and ventilation pipes run along the ceiling above a swimming pool

100% recycled plastic

Another innovative feature of the new energy system is that all the ductwork in the building – the system which transports heat and ventilation – was constructed using 100% recycled materials. Tipperary Energy Agency, the architects and engineers of the upgrade, co-financed this novel feature which is made from 3,717 recycled plastic bottles.

“We are immensely proud of our engineers’ achievements on this project. It has been a long road since we first visited here in late 2018. We also worked closely with stakeholders to access funding for the upgrade. The project was made possible through the support of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland through their Community Energy Grants, Clare County Council, the Department of Rural and Community Development through their Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, Leader and a substantial private donation.”

Lisa Vaughan, CEO at Tipperary Energy Agency

The Lahinch Leisure Centre was officially reopened on July 18th by the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD. For full details on the project, please visit the case study by the Tipperary Energy Agency here.

All illustrations courtesy of Tipperary Energy Agency