Glenstal Abbey is home to a Benedictine religious community. The site includes the original country dwelling as well as a number of other buildings, including a chapel, library, accommodation and most recently a new reception area have been added to provide for the needs of the Community.
As one part of their commitment to sustainable and environmentally aware development, the Community chose to use geothermal energy to provide heat for new buildings and to begin displacing some oil fired heating to existing buildings.
Source heat for the geothermal system is taken from Chapel Lake, a small water body formed by damming a stream on the grounds. The water is pumped a distance of more than 300 metres to the plantroom and then returned to the opposite end of the lake. Since the main source of the water is runoff from the watershed the system in effect uses the solar energy absorbed by this area. The volume of the lake ensures that there is collectable energy available even during dry times or cold snaps.
The geothermal system supplies up to 150 kW of heat to a combination of underfloor heating units, cast iron radiators and other emitters in several parts of the complex.
The high level of design innovation embodied in the Glenstal system was recognised by Sustainable Energy Ireland who awarded it the Public Building Thermal Energy Award 2005.