UCC world’s first university to get Green Flag award

The award was presented for the Green Campus initiative which in the past three years has seen the university save €300,000 in waste management costs, by reducing waste to landfill by nearly 400 tonnes and improving recycling from 21% to 60%.

Furthermore, UCC has conserved almost enough water this year to fill the equivalent of the Lough in the city. The award was presented yesterday by Minister John Gormley, on behalf of An Taisce, to UCC president Dr Michael Murphy

In addition to staff recycling systems that previously existed, new recycling facilities for students are now available in front of the lecture halls, and in the canteens where staff are trained in minimising waste.

Students in lecture theatres and laboratories are alerted to turn off lights and electrical equipment.

College maintenance vehicles are now running on biodiesel and carpooling has been introduced to facilitate lifts to and from campus.

“It is quite a leap, transforming the Green Schools programme, geared for the typical school of a few hundred students, to a complex campus of 130 acres, 16,000 students and almost 3,000 staff,” Dr Michael John O’Mahony of An Taisce said.

Dr Murphy said it is a source of great pride to the university, its staff and its students, that UCC has become the first third-level institution in the world to be awarded the designation.

Source: Irish Examiner Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sustainable Development Model predicts potential environmental impact of future economic activity – EPA Press Release

Date released: Feb 18 2010, 12:05 PM

New research, published today by the EPA, shows how economic forecasts can be used to project waste generation and emissions of pollutants across Ireland.  The ISus (Irish Sustainable Development) Model is based on the work of a three-year study by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), funded under the EPA STRIVE research programme.

Speaking about the findings of the research, Dr. Mary Kelly, Director General, EPA said:

“This model, developed by the ESRI, is very welcome. We are all aware of the use of GDP and other statistics to measure economic change. These, however, leave many things unmeasured, including the environment.
The ISus model provides a link between economic forecasting and potential environmental impacts.  This enables us to use the expertise of the ESRI, in relation to economic data, and link this with the environmental data produced by the EPA. The results will aid policy and decision makers to diagnose environmental problems, identify pressure points, target policy interventions and assess their success.
For example, projections on the generation of biodegradable waste – how much and where – could be a very useful tool for planning the location and required capacity for waste management infrastructure in the future.”


 ISus covers more than 25 potential pollutants (to air, water and waste) emanating from 20 economic sectors.

Some of the findings from the research:

  • In relation to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions: Ireland faces a significant challenge in meeting its target for 2020.
  • In relation to waste generation: projections from the model suggest that Ireland will also have great difficulty meeting EU limits on landfilling of biodegradable municipal waste.
  • In relation to carbon tax: it illustrates the spatial distribution of households likely to pay the highest tax, with those in the commuter belts likely to pay most.
    The data show that in the period 1990 – 2006, while the economy was growing strongly, some emissions (sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds) have fallen, while others (carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion, dioxins)  have increased.  ISus is able to attribute these changes to economic growth, structural changes in the economy and technological and behavioural change.


“The EPA is very happy to be working in collaboration with ESRI on this project and hopes to be able to reap the benefits of the work in producing forecasts and projections for environmental impacts based on different scenarios in the future”said Dr Kelly.

 The report Ireland’s Sustainable Development Model  is available on the EPA website.

The findings from this research are being presented today at a seminar on Environmental Projections and Policy for Ireland in the Economic and Social Research Institute.

Editor’s Notes:
This work was funded through the EPA’s Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for the Environment Programme (STRIVE). The programme employs a strategic and targeted approach to protecting and improving the natural environment through the provision and accumulation of scientific research and knowledge. Funding for the EPA STRIVE Programme is provided through the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government and the programme is administered by the EPA on their behalf.


Carbon tax to hit commuter belt the hardest – Irish Independant

COMMUTERS will bear the brunt of the carbon tax and are likely to be hit with annual bills more than 10 times higher than those paid by people living in cities.

A new analysis from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows that the annual carbon tax likely to be paid by someone living in inner-city Dublin will be €25 — but people living in the countryside could face bills of up to €275.

This is because many living outside the major cities are forced to drive to work because there is little or no public transport available. The report also found that rural houses tend to be bigger, and cost more to heat and that in cities, apartments share heat as it travels through a building.

carbon tax

The analysis published yesterday shows that the carbon tax, a key Green Party demand in its negotiations to enter Government, will not affect most of the party’s constituents.

The party has five TDs, with four based in Dublin.

Last December the first tranche of the tax was introduced in the Budget which saw motorists hit with a hike in fuel prices as petrol rose by 4 cent per litre and diesel by 5c.

Further pain is expected in May when the tax is applied to oil and gas for home heating, and the tax will also extend to the use of coal and peat.

The move is designed to discourage use of fossil fuels and to force behavioural changes where people would use public transport instead of the private car, and heat their homes using more energy-efficient heating systems such as wood-pellet stoves.

If successful, it would reduce the State’s dependency on imported fossil fuels and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions — the primary cause of global warming.

Co-author of the EPA/ESRI Strive report, Richard Tol, said that commuting was the dominant reason why people living outside the cities would pay more, although house size and income also played a role.

“Transport, and the car commute, is the major factor,” he said. “Rural houses tend to be bigger, and cost more to heat.

“Also, people living in the country tend to be richer and have more gadgets which need to be powered.”


The report says that the tax rate would vary from €25 per household per year in the inner city to €275 in parts of the commuter belt. But “most” households would pay between €135 and €235 per year in carbon taxes. The tax is being introduced on a phased basis, with 4c already added to the cost of a litre of petrol.

The tax is due to be extended to home heating fuels on May 1 next and solid fuels, coal and peat will be taxed from September.

It was signalled in the Budget that the carbon tax would add an extra €43 to the cost of filling a 1,000-litre oil tank and it would add €41 to the average annual gas bill.

However, the final tax levels have yet to be set.

The delay is because of concerns about lower-quality fuels, which are exempt from the new levy, being imported from Northern Ireland.

– Paul Melia

Irish Independent


Free Energy Assessments for SME’s

Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) are offering support to businesses through advice and training programmes. One such programme is SEI’s Advice, Mentoring and Assessment Programme where SEI provides free, one-to-one advice and mentoring to private & public sector SME’s from a specialist energy advisor.

Eco Evolution have recently teamed up with a local consultancy engineering company to complement our range of services and we can now offer this Energy Assessment for SME’s at no cost to their business.

The advisor will help and motivate the SME to assess their energy use, to identify opportunities for savings and to take action to realise these savings. This can provide a business with an excellent basis for implementing an energy reduction programme.

The service consists of an initial consultation or site assessment with the advisor regarding opportunities for energy savings. The advisor then provides a written report with recommendations for energy saving plus 90 day follow up support by phone and email.

Eco Evolution would encourage all SME’s to avail of this service as it will enable them to reduce energy usage, cut costs and benefit the environment. Energy usage can be reduced by up to 20%.

Email: info@EcoEvolution.ie

Tel:      053 93 67617

Setting a green evolution in motion – featured in the Sunday Business Post

Setting a green evolution in motion

Frank Gethings believes that redundancy can be looked at in two ways: either a gloomy end to a job or an opportunity to do something you have a passion about.

Gethings had been working for Maxtor, a multinational firm based in Bray, for about six years when it was acquired b y rival Seagate.

The change of ownership led to the closure of Maxtor, and Gethings was among more than 100 people who lost their jobs just before Christmas 2006.

‘‘Starting my own business had always been one of my goals, so I looked on the redundancy as an opportunity, as opposed to something negative,” said Gethings. ‘‘We received a good redundancy package from Maxtor, so I seized the moment: a case of now or never.”

Equipped with ‘‘the right attitude’’ and a keen interest in renewable energy, Gethings set about establishing Eco Evolution.

His firm specialises in all aspects of renewable energy – from consultancy to the design, supply and installation of wind turbines, solar heaters and even small-scale hydroelectricity generation systems.

‘‘The renewable energy industry in Ireland is only in its infancy and has tremendous potential for significant growth and high-calibre job creation,” said Gethings.

‘‘I think Ireland has the potential to be a world leader in this industry, but it will take real political leadership and proper support mechanisms to get it off the ground.”

A native of Ferns, Co Wexford, Gethings graduated in electronic engineering at Dublin City University in 1989.He worked for Kimble, a Dundalk based manufacturing firm, for six years, followed by a three-year stint with MKIR Panasonic.

When he went to work for Maxtor in 2000, he was able to move back home to Ferns, where Eco Evolution is now based. ‘‘I started working on setting up the company in 2006 when I was made aware of the impending redundancy,” he said. ‘‘This included carrying out intensive research and compiling a business plan, training and cherry-picking products.”

Gethings also did courses in sustainable energy, wind turbine and solar photovoltaic installation, and a wind energy module as part of a Masters in renewable energy systems.

Eco Evolution started trading in 2008, with funding from the Wexford County Enterprise Board. The firm is the official reseller for several international renewable energy products, and its customers are mainly in the residential and agricultural sectors. However, Gethings said that a number of commercial projects were also in the pipeline as businesses looked at ways to cut costs and become more environmentallyfriendly.

‘‘This is probably the only industry which can rise up out of the doldrums and lead this country into an era of prosperity once again,” said Gethings.

‘‘To support this energy revolution, our leaders must also rise up and take real responsibility for what needs to be done.”


Featured in the Sunday Business Post in ‘People in Business’ section: