An Enniscorthy businessman has proven that eco-friendly homes don't need to mean expensive by developing Ireland's first ever estate of new homes built to passive house standard.
Owner of Enniscorthy Passive Developments Michael Bennett is responsible for the new group of homes in Madeira Oaks estate. Based in Enniscorthy, the estate is comprised of 12 semi-detached homes which cost €190,000 each. The buildings are the first group of homes to be awarded an A minus BER rating, which means that they are producing more energy than they require. Known as passive houses, these homes typically have energy costs of about €200 per year in comparison with the average annual bill of €2,500.
With the Madeira Oaks estate, Bennett decided to take things one step further. By adding solar panels to the roof to generate electricity, costs have been eliminated altogether. In the future, residents may be able to sell electricity back to the grid.
Passive houses incorporate specific features in order to make them energy efficient. They are air-tight with high levels of insulation. They have triple-glazed windows and use heat recovery systems to extract heat from the air leaving the house. A ventilation system provides filtered air to the interior of the home.
Michael Bennett's company Enniscorthy Passive Developments has been building one-off passive homes for over a decade. Bennett decided to take on the challenge of developing the Enniscorthy estate in order to prove to his many critics that the homes could be built for a reasonable cost. Two years of research and development went into the project and after 13 weeks of construction, the first two houses are now complete and ready for closing. With work commencing on the next homes, interest among househunters is growing. Three have already sold off the plans and local agents Sherry FitzGerald O'Leary Kinsella have seen a strong interest in the remaining nine.