Monday 9 May 2011

Ecovillage confounds critics with expansion

THE ECOVILLAGE in Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary, is thriving in the teeth of a recession.

It just launched the second phase of a development which includes a 500sq m solar park, a 520sq m eco-enterprise centre and a 32-bed ecohostel. In addition, 30 houses are under construction, a dozen more are set to go and a further five sites were sold this year.

The timber frame of an apartment complex, designed by four future residents who got together and hired their own builder and architect, has just been erected.

The village, conceived in better times, has confounded the detractors who said it would not last.

“The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) says we are one of the biggest construction sites in rural Ireland. We may be the only one,” joked David Flannery from Sustainable Projects Ireland, the charity overseeing the development of the ecovillage.

The solar park was funded with a €700,000 grant from the European Commission. It will provide 80 per cent of heating and hot water in sunny weather and 20 per cent when it is gloomy. The rest will come from the woodchip boiler on site. It is anticipated the cost of hot water and heat to each home will be €22 a month.

Mr Flannery said the ecovillage was not immune to the recession and the price of sites had dropped by 30-40 per cent. Nevertheless, he said he expected the village to be finished in two years and the landscaping in five.

Pat Finucane, the owner of the Django ecohostel, named after his dog, said he was unable to get bank financing. So he financed it with savings and a grant from the North Tipperary Leader Project.

He described himself as “light green” – “I have been known to get on to airplanes from time to time”. The homes are built of lime and hemp, cob (a mixture of straw and earth) and eco-cement.

Irish Times

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