I was attracted to the ecovillage as it brought together cutting edge technologies, ideas, principles and practices of sustainable living.
Dave Flannagan, The Village Project.
The result was ‘The Village’, Ireland’s first ecovillage. Situated in 67 acres outside the town of Cloughjordan in County Tipperary. The village has already begun building with plans for 130 more low energy homes, including 15 ‘live and work’ units for new and existing businesses.
The houses in the village are built to high ecological standards, combining an energy-efficient design with locally sourced natural building materials such as timber, hemp-lime and cob.
Each home is south-facing, well insulated and with its own rainwater harvesting system. The Village has the largest district heating system in Ireland, powered by woodchip boilers and solar panels and fed to individual houses and flats through insulated underground pipes. In the future, residents hope to generate their own electricity on-site.
"People recognise that it’s an idea of its time. It’s something that’s showing how we can live in the future, how we can live more sustainably." Iva Pocock, The Village Project.
The Village aims to be self-sufficient in food, too. The ecovillage homes are surrounded by pedestrian pathways lined with fruit and nut trees, and there are 20 hectares of land for woodland, farming, and allotments where residents can grow their own fruit and vegetables.
By providing sustainable milk, meat, eggs and other produce, the community farm, established in partnership with the ecovillage, is improving the quality and quantity of food available locally and helping to reduce the environmental burden of food miles.
And it’s not just freight costs. Two ways of cutting personal travel miles are available to residents – they’re close to the train station in Cloughjordan, and can also take advantage of Ireland's only car-share company, which is effectively a shared ownership scheme.
The pioneers of the ecovillage hope that they will become an educational community, enabling other people to learn from their mistakes. As well as running courses in permaculture and gardening for people interested in growing food and building more ecologically, they are offering an education programme for college and university students doing sustainability and environmental management courses.
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe's environment.
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