M&P Mechanical completes hat trick of district heating awards

Green energy project helps village make big impact on carbon footprint...

L-R: Mark O’Rourke and Anthony O’Conaill, M&P Mechanical, winners of the District Heating Project of the Year, Ireland’s Plumbing & Heating Awards 2021.

M&P Mechanical has once again proven it is one of Ireland’s premier providers of district heating projects, after scooping a prestigious industry award for the third time.

The highly successful firm garnered the District Heating Project of the Year at Ireland’s Plumbing and Heating Awards 2021, for its outstanding work on a green energy scheme in Ballyroan, Co Laois. M&P Mechanical was tasked with installing a heat network in the village, following the creation of a nearby renewable energy plant. The anaerobic digester turns food and animal waste into biogas energy which, via a CHP (combined heat and power) solution, supplies electricity for the national grid. This in turn produces a large amount of thermal heat that needs to be displaced.

The award-winning scheme is now helping the small Irish village make a big impact on its carbon footprint. Targeting the nearest large energy users, M&P Mechanical designed a district heating network that extended over 1.2km in length. Using a pre insulated carrier pipe (Calipex), the engineering firm started the install, connecting any houses along the way, as well as the local church and nursing home. Future connections were left to extend the network further into the village in phase two, to include a local housing scheme and the nearby national school.

Aerial view of the award-winning Ballyroan site.

Following the completion of the install, the church and nursing home have reduced the use of fossil fuels for heating and hot water to almost zero. In fact, the church has reported no use of oil to heat the building since the project was completed. The plant owners did not want to put undue financial pressure on the community and decided to supply the church and nursing home with free heat for at least a year, allowing them to assess the level of service and understand any changes they would need in the buildings to continue to benefit from the district heating supply.

The panel of judges at Ireland’s Plumbing and Heating Awards 2021 commented on how the project exemplified the true nature of district heating, that is, connecting a community together to reduce its need for fossil fuels. Describing this project as a fine example of the district heating systems of old, the judges agreed this showcased, that with the proper planning and community and stakeholder buy-in, an effective solution can be put in to make use of waste heat.

Anthony O’Conaill, Operations Manager at M&P Mechanical, said: “We were taken aback when the call came that we had won the award. Making the short list of projects is always an honour, but to take home the win, that is always special.”

The latest award marked the third time in five years that M&P Mechanical scooped the District Heating Project of the Year. Its first win came in 2017, when M&P was recognised for its work on the Lighthouse Apartments in Georges Place, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin. The project consisted of 83 apartments that are split between five cores and stand nine-storeys tall. All the apartments are serviced for heating, hot water and cold water from a centralised district heating system installed by M&P Mechanical.

Lighthouse Apartments in Georges Place, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin.

Following this success, M&P once again took home the award in 2019, after delivering a top-class and stylish 251-unit apartment complex at Santry, Dublin. Bridgefield Apartments, which boast an A2 Building Energy Rating, were the first NZEB (nearly zero energy buildings) compliant building delivered units to the Dublin City Centre social and affordable housing sector. District heating was the best option for this project and as M&P Mechanical had carried out four similar projects for Cosgrave Developments, the contractor knew the firm would deliver.

The award judges were impressed by the use of smart technology in the development, which was finished to an exceptionally high standard, with low running costs and compressed plant size. Using custom-made smartphone apps, each end-user can see their energy consumption in real time. The interface helps give users a wider picture in terms of
their energy usage and encourages a reduction in waste. At the heart of the high efficiency district heating system at Bridgefield are two 400kW gas-fired boilers, three gas-fired CHP units and three Air to Water Heat Pumps.

Bridgefield Apartments, Dublin, which boast an A2 Building Energy Rating.

Anthony added: “When it comes to large apartment complexes like this, it’s great to see a developer using this tried and tested district heating solution. District heating with low maintenance and a life cycle on the main plant over 30 years, its more than just an efficient solution, its effective.”

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