Cloughjordan ecovillage models the transition to a low-carbon society and shares its learning through educational activities. With 55 low-carbon homes, Ireland’s lowest ecological footprint, a carbon-neutral district heating system, a community farm, green enterprise centre, and a planned reed bed treatment plant, the ecovillage demonstrates ecological, economic and social sustainability.

The project emerged 20 years ago when a group of people concerned at how unaware the public were about climate change and the need for sustainability, decided to develop Ireland’s first ecovillage. The first steps were to establish a company, Sustainable Projects Ireland, to build and manage the ecovillage and to choose the site – 67 acres of land in Cloughjordan, bought in 2002. Finances were raised from members, from an ethical investor and by borrowing, and the infrastructure installed in 2007-08. The first houses were built in 2009 and by 2013, 55 houses had been built. A carbon-neutral district heating system was installed and Cloughjordan Community Farm was established in 2008 as a community supported agriculture farm to establish a resilient food system.

President Michael D. Higgins opens Cloughjordan Community Amphitheatre. Photo credit: Sustainable Projects Ireland CLG

Today the ecovillage is a place where students and academics from Ireland and overseas come to undertake research on aspects of low-carbon living. It has generated a vibrant cluster of new businesses, including an eco-hostel with 34 beds and a national award-winning wood-fired bakery and bakery school within the ecovillage and, on the main street, a book and coffee shop, as well as a community café using the produce of the farm and the bakery.A group of ecovillagers established VINE to provide internet and telephone services. A Green enterprise centre in the ecovillage contains Ireland’s only community-based Fabrication Laboratory (FabLab). The increase in visitors to the village also has a positive impact on pre-existing local businesses such as shops and pubs.

“The project is conceptually well conceived and implemented in a practical down to earth manner. The presentation is modest and self-critical. It is being implemented with stamina and dedication by the collective members. It is a useful well-documented real-life experiment meriting further study.”
– Vivek Monteiro

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