Latest Laois News: Dining in Fridge on menu at Solas Eco Centre in Portarlington
Innovative Laois attraction leading way in providing planet-friendly experience
So, what lengths are you prepared to go to for a more cost efficient and environmentally friendly Autumn Winter?
The people behind SOLAS Eco Garden Shop and Artisan food markets in Portarlington Co. Laois are hoping that customers who flock to their thriving destination will layer on the clothes and eat in a fridge!.
It’s not just any old fridge though and it’s heavily insulated to keep the heat in, ensuring a comfortable ambient temperature for diners.
David Maher, Co-owner of SOLAS and a long time environmentalist says
“The SOLAS ethos is all about trying to reduce our carbon footprint which we managed to do very successfully in the building stage by repurposing old warehouse and shipping containers, over our site which is some 5 acres. We are the first in the country to turn 40 forty foot old shipping containers into a vibrant and funky shopping and eating destination. We saved all that from landfill and built our centre around those containers. Everything we do here is towards the goal of reusing, repurposing and recycling. The soaring cost of electricity, and especially gas for the coming colder months has really sharpened all our attention on the need to reduce energy costs. The massive hikes are frightening for all businesses, but instead of being rigid with fear we have taken a number of radical steps to drastically reduce our energy consumption and energy bills this winter”.
“We pride ourselves on thinking laterally and we decided to move our existing 100 seater restaurant. We are custom building a ‘sealed unit’ to fit into our main eco shop. The walls of the new restaurant are from disused refrigerated food shipping containers; these are absolutely ideal as they are heavily insulated and are effectively a freezer in reverse, designed to keep the heat in rather that out. The restaurant is called Anti Freeze”.
David says however that “Customers won’t freeze though, as the insulation means they will dine at an ambient, snug temperature”.
We are reducing our temperature levels in our entire SOLAS Eco Shop to 13 degrees, down from 19 degrees which we estimate will lower our gas energy usage by 70%. We are advising customers to wrap up warmly when they come to shop here. It makes perfect sense. Nobody needs stifling temperatures when they are shopping, people are moving about, their blood is naturally flowing and they will be cosy here instead of uncomfortably hot. Overheating shops is a terrible waste of electricity and heating, not to mention so damaging to our planet. This year, above all years, we need to go back to the old ways ..wear a jumper, layer up and wrap up”.
“It’s all about the clever hacks to make a difference, cut down where we can”.
“We have installed 150 Kw of solar panels which will produce 94 % of annual electrical needs and should reduce our electrical costs by 84%. The pay back on this investment is 4 years and will make a real tangible difference, both to our operating costs and to the environment”.
“We are doing all we can here at SOLAS to help people reduce their carbon footprint; we do courses, we practise what we preach. We’re all about empowering people, educating them to do what they can to make sustainable differences. We’re hugely water efficient also, we have a 400 ft well that provides 20, 000 litres of water each day. This caters for our entire garden centre meaning we are virtually operating off grid”.