Ireland's First LEED Neighbourhood Development Project: Abbey Creative Quarter in Kilkenny

 

Green Energy Solutions are working in conjunction with Kilkenny County Council on Ireland’s first ever LEED Neighbourhood Development (ND) project. The site is Kilkenny’s Abbey Creative Quarter which includes the old Smithwicks Brewery Site based in the heart of Kilkenny city. Due to the age and significant history of the site, which dates back to the early 13th century, Green Energy Solutions have been working closely with the local authority and archaeological professionals to ensure that the history of the site is preserved.

The difference between this Masterplan job and all others is the introduction of LEED ND. LEED ND has been engineered to help us create more sustainable, better connected and an overall healthier communities. The community is awarded credits based on its success in 5 key areas.

1.       Smart Location and Linkage: This accounts for smart location and a number of other required qualities which carry no credits. The credits begin to pile up when we go above and beyond what is required to be ‘certified’ to ensure            the best community is developed! Opportunities such as Quality Location, Quality Transit, Bicycle Facilities and Proximity to Jobs and Housing all carry credits.

2.       Neighbourhood Pattern & Design:  These credits are awarded based on physical layout of the community and considers how all aspects of the community and linked. It considers the inclusion of community outreach                                    programmes, neighbourhood schools and local food production as well as access to public and recreational spaces. Of course, it is Important that once this community is fully developed that it is affordable to live here so this                    section will also consider affordability of housing.

3.       Green Infrastructure and Buildings: The building must be certified green and achieve minimum building energy performance. Credits are awarded for a number of green technologies that are implemented including water                      reduction, rainwater management, solar orientation, renewable energy production and recycling infrastructure. It is in category 1, 2 and 3 that Green Energy Solutions aim to achieve the bulk of their credit points for the Abbey                 Quarter Site.

4.       Innovation in the Design Process: The number of credits awarded for this section is decided by the level of innovation included in design of the building's services including mechanical and electrical design, and if the designer is             LEED accredited professional.

5.       Regional Priority Credits: These are like bonus points awarded by USGBC and the LEED International Roundtable. They were introduced in 2009 and used as an incentive for those involved to strive to for more credits -                              particularly environmental credits. The credits are awarded at discretion of the USGBC and LEED International Group based on the environmental needs of the region in which the site is located Eg. The needs of the countries                    capital city may be completely different to those of the a small town on the other side of the country.

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Green Energy Solutions have been helping to create this type of community at the new Abbey Creative Quarter site. The new site will have 60,000 m2 of mixed retail, office, residential and educational space to help the expanding city. It will also have a number of landscaped areas including a new 3-acre square surrounding the famous St. Francis Abbey. The old Mayfair and Brewhouse Buildings will undergo substantial refurbishment that will create a combined 6,000m2 of open plan office space which will contribute hugely to the overall LEED Certification of the neighbourhood. The historic buildings on the site will undergo a significant conservation programme which aims to preserve the current historical status, while also preparing them to be in good enough condition, where they could act as focal points in the area. Lastly, a new linear green park has been designed to run along the banks of the River Nore, providing a welcoming and relaxing space in what will be a busy city centre area.

The overall project is targeting LEED Gold certification for Neighbourhood Development. This would be the first in Ireland. To achieve this rating, we must achieve 60-79 credit points and are currently well on track to accomplishing this!