Cloughjordan Ecovillage

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Revision as of 17:34, 8 February 2019 by Tom Henfrey (talk | contribs) (transferred information from GHG reductions page)

Combining both cutting-edge technologies and some traditional technologies gives a rich and unique mix to the ecovillage. One of its most innovative features is its district heating system, the only one in Ireland powered by renewable sources of energy. This supplies all the heating and hot water for every house in the ecovillage, using no fossil fuels as primary energy sources and emitting no greenhouse gas emissions. (Electricity supply to drive the pumps and for other purposes is taken from the public mains at present, but there are plans for on-site generation in due course.) It saves an estimated 113.5 tonnes annually of carbon that would be emitted by conventional heating systems for the number of houses served. Though the ecovillage has the largest bank of solar panels in Ireland, these haven’t yet been commissioned due to faults in their installation; the district heating system relies on waste wood from a sawmill about an hour away. Members buy sites from the cooperative which owns the estate (of which all site owners must be members), building their own houses to their own designs, in keeping with the principles and specifications of the Ecological Charter. As a result, many different building types have been used, including passive timber frame with a variety of insulations and finishes, Durisol blocks (blocks of chipped wastewood bonded with ecocement), sheep’s wool, cellulose (shredded newspaper), hemp-lime (lime is a traditional Irish form of finish but the addition of hemp, a fibrous plant material, gives it strength and insulation), cob (clay, sand, and straw), a Canadian stick-frame house with double stud walls (with no cold bridging), and kit houses, while natural slates or recycled plastic roof tiles and “green roofs” are widely used. These provide a colourful variety of different designs and finishes that gives the ecovillage a very distinctive look compared to other residential areas in Ireland. It also has some of the lowest Building Energy Ratings (BER) in Ireland. [1]

Ecological Footprints at Cloughjordan Ecovillage

Ecological footprint analysis at Cloughjordan took place via participatory methods in which residents were actively involved in the design, data collection, interpretation and communication of findings, in line with the village's stated aim to be a working example of sustainable settlement and interest in monitoring progress towards this goal. Findings from a household survey completed by 47 of the 50 households in the ecovillage at the time showed residents to have an average ecological footprint (EF) of 2.03 global hectares (gha). Based on WWF estimates that the maximum average EF that would allow humanity as a whole to live within planetary limits, this represents an ecological overshoot of around ten per cent. The figure is slightly higher than the per capita EF forecast by five founder residents involved in the original ecovillage design (1.95 gha), well under half the EF calculated in a study of 79 Irish villages in 2006 (4.35 gha), and nearly a third lower than the EF in another Irish village that had achieved significant reductions via a four-year carbon reduction programme (2.93 gha).[2]

Low EFs at Cloughjordan were achieved through technological, social and behavioural measures. The village's woodchip-powered district heating system means EF resulting from energy use in Cloughjordan was 6.5 times lower than the national average, while use of LED lighting and high efficiency appliances means energy EF is 48% lower than the national average. Composting, recycling and use of shared bins help keep waste EF to 0.32 gha, compared to a national average of 0.89 gha. Calculation of food EF showed this to be 2.3 times less than the national average due to higher proportions of plant-based foods, without taking into account the further benefits of self-cultivaton, permaculture growing and purchase of local produce. Despite many ecovillage residents having lengthy commutes to work, the EF due to car transport was slightly below the national average (0.33 gha compared with 0.36 gha). EF resulting from air transport was slightly higher than national averages; however the small size of this compared with the markedly lower figures in other areas meant the impact on overall figures was relatively low.[2]


  1. Kirby, P., 2016. CLOUGHJORDAN ECOVILLAGE: Modeling the Transition to a Low-Carbon Society. Communities 49–53.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Carragher, V., Peters, M., 2018. Engaging an ecovillage and measuring its ecological footprint. Local Environment 23: 861–878.