Located in the heart of Ballymun, Rediscovery Centre is based in the repurposed Ballymun Boiler House – one of the last remaining features of the old Ballymun before the urban regeneration project.

External image of the Boiler House building, Rediscovery Centre is written on the front.

No stranger to innovation, the Boiler House was once the powerhouse behind the largest civic district heating scheme in Ireland and the United Kingdom, providing free heat and hot water to the thousands of people living in the high-rise tower blocks of Ballymun. As part of the regeneration of Ballymun, the iconic flats were demolished and the Boiler House was also due to be knocked down. This changed however in 2014 when Rediscovery Centre, the Government of Ireland and Dublin City Council joined forces to save and repurpose the landmark building as a centre of excellence in circularity. This was supported by the European Commission under the WISER LIFE project, which was completed in 2017.

As Europe’s first 3D textbook and demonstration centre of the circular economy, our inspiring centre showcases, from foundation to chimney, extraordinary examples of what can be done when waste is seen as an opportunity rather than a problem. You can visit the centre anytime Mon – Sat 9am – 5pm: Look for the wonderful red and white chimney just off the main Ballymun Road. As you explore the centre, keep an eye out for our building ‘bookmarks’ that highlight the unique and amazing features of our circularity hub. You can also find out more about them below.

When pollutants are detected in a given space, an air monitoring system can alert automated systems to open windows and activate ventilation.

Everybody knows that air pollution poses a risk to our health. The two main principles for ensuring good indoor air quality are limiting pollutant levels and ensuring good ventilation. Air quality monitoring systems can help address both of these issues. When pollutants are detected in a given space, an air monitoring system can alert automated systems to open windows and activate ventilation. Also, recording air quality on a neighbourhood or city scale can inform broader action to address potential sources such as domestic heating, traffic or industrial activity. High quality air is important for human health and is highlighted by a number of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. [1] [2].

Rediscovery Centre’s building management system (BMS) includes an air quality monitoring system and natural ventilation system, which work together to maintain good air quality in the building. Good air quality is also supported by the use of non-toxic materials and finishes (e.g. paint, varnish and cleaners) with low VOC (volatile organic compounds) emissions. Identifying and preventing air pollution helps to create a healthy and sustainable working environment.

For you, there are a number of simple actions you can take to ensure good air quality in your home. For more information look to our Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who have published research on indoor air quality in Ireland, a 2021 report on air quality in Ireland and a live map of air quality around Ireland.

[1] Air quality and health (who.int)

[2]  Improving air quality improves people’s health and productivity

Biomass stoves provide a more sustainable option than oil or gas boilers. ‘Biomass’ refers to renewable organic material that comes from plants and animals. Fast growing trees, such as willow, are a good source of biomass fuel as they can be cut down to a stump (coppice) and regrow quickly, thereby providing a continual supply of fuel. Most biomass stoves operate through burning pellets, woodchips, logs or other types of woody biomass. [1].

Our biomass stove provides the main hall with heating and helps supply hot water for the building. Once the willow trees in Rediscovery Centre’s garden are ready for coppicing, their cuttings become the main fuel source for the stove. Our use of the biomass stove aligns with circular economy principles by creating a loop of carbon dioxide release and capture[2]. Specifically, we take small cuttings of willow as a fuel source. The willow is burned in the stove releasing heat and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. At the same time, by cutting the willow we encourage the growth of new branches, which ultimately draws carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. 

Find about biomass as a fuel source in Ireland from Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).

[1] https://bit.ly/3Ey3rY1

[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31956060/

Energy efficiency essentially means using less energy to get the same amount of work done. For example, insulating a building allows the building to be heated using less energy. In 2021 Ireland’s energy related CO2 emissions were approximately 40 million tonnes[1]. SEAI states that by improving energy efficiency Ireland can reduce CO2 emissions, while saving up to €1.8 billion to households and businesses annually [2]. By using renewable sources of energy we can further reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Rediscovery Centre showcases a combination of energy efficiency and renewable technologies. The building derives energy from a combined heat and power (CHP) unit, an air source heat pump, solar thermal panels,  Photovoltaic  panels and a biomass stove with a back boiler. The CHP unit provides the main heat source although the other renewable sources, including the heat pump, solar thermal panels and biomass stove, are prioritised where available. Heat is stored in a large water buffer vessel in the plant room. The BMS controls heat distribution via thermostatic radiator valves which ensures that heat is only delivered to areas of the building where it is required. A gas boiler acts as a last resort when additional heat is needed. Maximising the building’s energy efficiency and drawing on renewable sources of power contributes to a circular economy by reducing fossil fuel use and energy wastage. 

The centre is intentionally designed to demonstrate a number of different heating systems and how these can be used under different weather conditions and together to achieve greater energy efficiency. In a domestic setting, much simpler approaches can be used. Find out more about making your home more energy efficient and available grants from SEAI.

[1] CO2 Emissions | Energy Statistics In Ireland | SEAI.

[2] Ireland could save €1.8bn a year by being more energy efficient – SEAI

Switching to renewable energy and reducing energy consumption is an essential step in transitioning to a sustainable and circular economy. Lighting can account for up to 40% of electricity consumption in a given building [1]. New lighting technologies can help reduce lighting energy consumption. LED lights are one such technology, using 50% less energy than fluorescent lights and up to 30 times less energy than incandescent light bulbs[2]. For instance, it is estimated that current efforts to switch public lighting to LEDs in 21 of Ireland’s local authority areas will reduce energy and maintenance costs by 55%, save 20,000 of CO2 equivalent per year, and save €12 million per year[3].

Rediscovery Centre is exclusively lit by LED lights. Moreover, motion and daylight sensors automatically switch lights off when not needed. This helps to reduce Rediscovery Centre’s use of energy. The long lifespan of LED bulbs helps to minimise waste generated by the centre, reducing the demand for additional raw materials and in line with circular economy principles. Some challenges do exist with switching to LEDs. While LEDs represent more efficient use of energy and materials, research is still ongoing on the negative impacts of LED lighting on human and animal health.

Can you think of new uses for old incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs? 

SEAI provides additional information on LEDs specifically geared toward business owners.

[1] https://www.seai.ie/publications/SEAI-Energy-Efficient-LED-Lighting-Guide.pdf

[2] https://www.seai.ie/publications/SEAI-Energy-Efficient-LED-Lighting-Guide.pdf

[3] https://publiclighting.ie/

The efficient use of water and heat, and the use of renewable or natural sources to supply heat and water, is part of a more circular approach to building services. 

Rediscovery Centre’s service pipes are colour coded to demonstrate how heat and water move around the building. These are essential to some of our circular building design elements. For instance, rainwater is collected on the roof of the centre and distributed through brown labelled pipes to flush tanks for the toilets and to the living wall. Hot water is heated by a combination of the CHP system and thermal and photovoltaic solar panels on the roof.  Heating for the building’s radiators is primarily generated by the CHP system and the air source heat pump. In winter, when there is a higher demand for heating, the biomass stove can also be used. The CHP uses gas as a fuel source but by capturing heat as a by-product of electricity production, it operates at a higher efficiency than standard power systems. The building’s systems are designed to rely on the CHP unit as little as possible. Finally, the piping systems are designed to be easy to understand and accessible for repair and maintenance purposes.

Find out more about renewable heating systems in building design from the Irish Green Building Council and EPA.

Heating buildings consumes a huge share of all fossil fuels globally, contributing to both climate change and, in some cases, poor local air quality. Residential emissions associated with home heating accounted for 11.4% of Ireland’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2021[1], while in the 1980s Ireland experienced a series of severe air pollution episodes due to the burning of coal to heat homes[2]. New technologies, such as air source heat pumps address both of these problems, as well as being less expensive to run than conventional fossil fuel-based heating systems.

The air source heat pump in Rediscovery Centre is located beneath the bridge on the east side of the building. The pump uses a compressor to draw heat from the air outside (a low temperature source) to heat the building interior. It requires only a small amount of electricity to run, which helps to reduce the overall GHG impact of the centre by reducing the consumption of fossil fuels. A number of drawbacks do exist with these systems. For instance, a given building needs to be very well insulated for a heat pump to work efficiently [3].

Find out more about how heat pumps work and various grants that are available for retrofitting homes and buildings on SEAI’s website.  

SEAI also provides an explainer about how heat pumps work in more detail.

[1] epa.ie/our-services/monitoring–assessment/climate-change/ghg/residential/

[2] epa.ie/publications/research/air/Research_Report_385.pdf

[3] seai.ie/publications/Homeowners-Guide-To-Heat-Pump-Systems.pdf

Many conventional building materials produce high carbon emissions. For example, concrete[1] and conventional insulating materials such as polyurethane[2] can have significant carbon footprints. Alternative materials such as hempcrete, sheep’s wool, straw and cork have lower carbon footprints, and some even sequester carbon[3].

The eastern and southern walls of the Boiler House building are built with hempcrete, which is made from a mixture of water, lime, and hemp plant shiv, which sequesters carbon dioxide when growing. It is compacted into a timber frame and allowed to dry. The material is lightweight, durable, an excellent insulator[4] and can be cast into and around timber, concrete, and steel frames. It can also be cast against existing masonry walls as an insulating cladding both internally and externally. This material helps to keep Rediscovery Centre warm without a build up of moisture, while maintaining a low overall carbon footprint. The hempcrete you can see is exposed for display purposes, but can be plastered over for a smooth finish. 

You can find out more about circular approaches to the built environment on our showcase website.

You can find out more about using hempcrete from the hemp cooperative Ireland.

[1] nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02612-5

[2] pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2014/gc/c4gc00513a

[3] researchgate.net/publication/Hemp_Concrete

[4] sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0959652617303876

We often say in Rediscovery Centre that the most circular building is the one that is already built. In Ireland there is a vast resource of under-utilised buildings. Results from the 2022 census highlight that more than 166,000 houses are vacant in Ireland[1],  while it is estimated that 22,000 buildings are derelict nationally[2].

By repurposing such structures and the materials embedded in them we can reduce construction and demolition waste as well as the carbon emissions that would otherwise be released through extraction and production of new resources. Rediscovery Centre puts these principles into practice. The centre is housed in the structure of the Boiler House of Ballymun’s former district heating system. The building was the site of four large oil and gas boilers that heated huge quantities of water that were pumped to high rise residential buildings in the neighbourhood. The approach taken in the construction of Rediscovery Centre sought to retain as much of the original building and materials as possible. The original concrete floors and steel girders were retained and provided the structure for the building renovations. Approximately 55 tonnes of carbon emissions are embodied in the materials retained. Their retention avoids the release of additional carbon through the manufacture of new materials. This carbon saving is equivalent to the sequestering capacity of 5,000 trees for a period of 20 years. 

So, the next time you replace something, think about elements that could be salvaged for further use. 

Find out more about measuring vacant homes from the Central Statistics Office

Find out more about the circular built environment at our online buildings showcase.

See also Irish Green Building Council and EPA best practice guidelines for sustainable construction guidance.

The average European Union citizen generated more than half a tonne of municipal waste in 2021[1]. That’s the weight of a grand piano in waste for every single person. Reducing the amount of stuff we throw away through reuse and repurposing supports the circular economy in two main ways. Firstly, it reduces the demand to extract additional natural resources; mining, quarrying and other extractive industries have significant environmental impacts[2]. Secondly, it reduces the pollution and management challenges associated with waste treatment.

Many of the fittings, items and tools you will see in Rediscovery Centre are reused, recycled and upcycled materials. This includes upcycled chairs in the café, bins constructed from bike wheels and tubes, and education seats made from upcycled plastic crates. A creative approach to reuse and repurposing, as demonstrated by Rediscovery Centre can help people enact circular economy practices in their everyday lives. Keep an eye on the things you throw out where you live. Could you repurpose them? Use them again? Or give them away? 

  • Olio is a free peer-to-peer app for giving away and requesting household items. Keep an eye on the Rediscovery Centre news page for repair cafe’s where you can bring broken items and get them repaired for free. 

[1] Municipal waste statistics.

[2] The Environmental Problems Caused by Mining | Earth.Org

[3] census2022andvacantdwellingsfaq/

[4] 2021-12-14_opening-statement-dr-frank-o-connor-and-jude-sherry-co-directors-anois_en.pdf

25-30% of all waste landfilled in Ireland comes from construction and demolition (C&D). These materials include building rubble, bricks, pipes and tiles, much of which can be reused. Rediscovery Centre puts these principles into practice. The red bricks on the outer facade of the building were salvaged from a demolished building in Ballymun. By salvaging materials directly and without allowing them to go through the official waste management system can create a direct link for reuse. This reduces the burden on the national waste management system and reduces the need for the production of new construction materials. Other construction and demolition projects that have sought to minimise waste and maximise reuse include the Limerick 2030 project. The Irish Green Building Council has also launched a Construction Materials Exchange, which seeks to match unused construction materials with projects where they can be put to (re)use. 

Find out more about the circular built environment at our online buildings showcase.

See also Irish Green Building Council and EPA best practice guidelines for sustainable construction.

Conventional insulating materials such as polyurethane[1] can have significant carbon footprints. Alternative materials such as hempcrete, sheep’s wool, straw and cork have lower carbon footprints, and some even sequester carbon[2].

Sheep’s wool is an excellent, natural and renewable insulation material that has been used to insulate the western side of the building. Millions of tiny air pockets form in the wool, creating a thermal barrier that helps to keep heat within the building. Developing a market for sheep wool insulation would add value to what has often been considered an agricultural by-product in Ireland, thereby improving the circularity of the sheep farming sector. Revenue from wool insulation could also help support the almost 50,000 sheep farmers nationwide.  As of yet, there is no publicly accessible information hub for circular building products. A number of companies are now selling sheep wool insulation. The website www.sheepWoolInsulation.com/about/production-process/ provides useful information about the wool production process. For more on Ireland’s sheep wool sector see the recent government commissioned feasibility study. [3]

[1] Life cycle assessment of polyols for polyurethane production using CO 2 as feedstock: insights from an industrial case study

[2] On hempcrete’s carbon sequestration potential see (PDF) Assessment of Carbon Sequestration of Hemp Concrete

[3]gov.ie – Wool Feasibility Study published

Keeping warm is among the most basic of human needs. Unfortunately, heating buildings consumes a huge share of fossil fuels globally contributing to both climate change and poor local air quality. For instance, in the USA 30% of GHG emissions come from the building sector[1], while areas in Ireland are still experiencing air pollution challenges due to the use of solid fuels[2]. Renewable sources of energy, such as solar thermal panels are helping to address this problem. Thermal solar panels draw on a renewable and abundant source of energy – the sun. Solar technologies are becoming increasingly efficient[3]. Moreover, a well-installed solar panel system in Ireland can provide 60% of the annual hot water needs for the average household[4].

Rediscovery Centre showcases a combination of energy efficient and renewable technologies. Hot water for the centre is heated through a combination of the CHP unit and the thermal and photovoltaic solar panels on the roof. The rooftop solar panels can be seen through the viewer in the main hall. By using solar panels in particular we reduce our reliance on fossil fuel energy for heating water, thereby reducing the overall material footprint and improving the circularity of the building.  

Are solar panels suitable for the building where you live or work? Although somewhat expensive for individual households, SEAI provides grants to help with these costs

[1] Electrifying buildings can reduce greenhouse gas emissions | World Economic Forum

[2] Ireland failed to meet health-based air quality guidelines in 2021

[3] What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Energy? | Earth.Org

[4] Hot Water from Solar Thermal Collectors

The development of public sanitation in the 19th-century contributed to significant public health improvements at that time, particularly in urban areas[1]. However, the treatment of wastewater requires water, energy and chemicals for disinfection and removes water and nutrients from the natural cycle. Circular approaches to water and wastewater management, like rainwater harvesting and reed bed systems, can provide local and sustainable solutions. 

In Rediscovery Centre, all toilets are flushed using rainwater harvested from the roof. All waste from toilets is treated onsite. Solid waste is transported into a custom-built biodigester in the plant-room where worms decompose the waste and turn it into compost. This provides a phosphorus rich fertiliser for use on garden beds for landscaping and plants. Liquid waste is filtered through a reed bed system along with wastewater from sinks and showers. All water leaving Rediscovery Centre is clean. These kinds of systems reduce the environmental impact of our water consumption and wastewater systems and the resources and energy required to process such waste.

Have you considered installing a rainwater harvester where you live?

Find out more about Ireland’s waste water management system here.

[1] Tim Wainwright: How the “Great Stink” of Victorian London heralded a sanitary revolution – The BMJ

Waste paint represents a significant and expensive waste stream in Ireland. Research carried out in 2016 estimated that 2,000 tonnes of paint are exported for incineration annually at considerable cost to the state. This money is wasted, as much of this paint can be reused. 

The walls in the centre have been finished using paint from Rediscover Paint. Rediscover Paint collects paint from recycling centres, diverting it from disposal or incineration (please note that unwanted paint cannot be donated to the centre as we can’t store it). The paint on the walls is non-hazardous water-based paint that contains very low volatile organic compounds, allowing excellent air quality in the building. In addition to its own paint programme, Rediscovery Centre coordinates the Paint Reuse Network, a national network of several paint reuse organisations who focus on reusing paint that would otherwise be incinerated or landfilled.

Find donation locations where you can bring your old paint, or sale locations where you can buy recovered paint. 

Find out more from research carried out by Rediscovery Centre on the impacts of paint waste and its potential for reuse.

Insects play fundamental roles in the ecosystem, carrying out important pollination, controlling pests and recycling nutrients back into the soil[1].  Although there is a lack of data about many species of insects, the decline in key monitored populations is concerning[2]. Maintaining insect populations is essential for biodiversity. 

Bug hotels are small, usually wooden structures which provide a safe haven for bugs in your garden. Here, bugs can find shelter from predators like hedgehogs and toads, build a nest, hibernate, and reproduce[3] [4]. They also provide shelter from the strain of human habitat. These structures thereby help to protect insect populations and encourage their presence in gardens. Bug hotels are very simple to build, and can be made from a variety of materials you probably already have in your home and/or garden such as untreated wood, cardboard, leaves, cones and moss[5]. Rediscovery Centre’s bug hotel is hidden on the path to the centre’s rooftop garden. The hotel was made from old wooden pallets with nectar rich flowers planted on top to attract different insects. These bugs help to sustain Rediscovery Centre’s garden, which supplies fresh vegetables to the Centre Café during the Summer and Autumn months.

Could you construct a bug hotel in your garden or balcony?

Learn more about urban and domestic ecology from the Urban Ecology Research Group at Trinity College Dublin. Alternatively, there are a number of excellent places to visit to learn more about ecology and biodiversity including Sonairte in Co. Meath, National Botanic Gardens of Ireland in Dublin, Organic Centre in Co. Leitrim, and Grow It Yourself in Waterford. 

[1] Beneficial Garden Insects and How to Attract Them to Your Garden | Ireland’s Wildlife.

[2] biodiversityireland.ie/the-silent-extinction-of-insects/

[3] Bug hotel: location, benefits & inhabitants – Plantura

[4] What happens in an insect hotel? — PlantingSeeds (ps.org.au)

[5] foroige.ie/blog/foroige-wildlife-lets-build-simple-bug-hotel

Composting is the natural process of decomposition that turns organic material like garden waste or food scraps into a dark, crumbly and nutrient rich soil-like material called compost. The biology behind composting is complex and involves microorganisms, fungi and worms. Yet all we need to do is create the right conditions and decomposition will happen on its own. The compost itself is a valuable product for domestic and commercial growing. Importantly, while composting does produce CO2 emissions, it has much a lower impact than sending food waste to landfill[2].

Leftover food from the cafe and staff kitchen is composted through a number of different composting systems. These include an in-vessel composter in the orange shipping container, traditional composters of various size including a tumbler and a wormery in Rediscovery Centre’s garden, while green waste from the garden itself is composted in a separate composting bin. The compost produced is used in the garden to support the growth of the fresh produce that is used in the cafe. Composting helps to increase the circularity of Rediscovery Centre by helping to recover and recycle nutrients from leftover food and plants that would otherwise be waste. 

The EPA’s Stop Food Waste website provides useful information on setting up a composting bin and other aspects of reducing food waste. 

[1] Composting – Stop Food Waste

[2] The impact of landfilling and composting on greenhouse gas emissions – A review – ScienceDirect

Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for plant growth. While phosphorus occurs naturally in soil, global agriculture has been supplemented for the past 150 years with fertiliser produced using phosphate rock, primarily mined in the USA, China and Morocco[1] [2]. However, mineral phosphorus is running out and scientists are looking for alternative sources and methods to ensure plant growth[3]. What’s more, inorganic phosphorus from synthetic fertilisers have become a major source of water pollution both in freshwater catchments and oceans[4].

Rediscovery Centre’s living wall provides an illustration of one circular method through which plant nutrients can be derived from urine. Urine from the urinal in the building is diluted with captured rainwater and diverted to our living wall. The plants you see take up nutrients from the diluted urine. By employing a circular system that derives value from human urine, we can help reduce the need to mine phosphorus. The Living Wall also improves air quality in the building by absorbing carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and releasing oxygen.

Learn more about global phosphorus production from Nature.com. A recent National Geographic article discusses new approaches to phosphorus use in farming. Catchments.ie provides information about the impact of phosphorus on Irish water bodies.

[1] nationalgeographic.com/science/article/farmers-are-facing-a-phosphorus-crisis-the-solution-starts-with-soil

[2] earthmagazine.org/article/mineral-resource-month-phosphate-rock/

[3] https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/farmers-are-facing-a-phosphorus-crisis-the-solution-starts-with-soil

[4] https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-18326-7

Rainwater harvesting is an excellent way to reduce the demand on public water supply and reduce the quantities of water that need to be drawn from the environment[1]. Harvesting involves collecting the rainwater that falls on a roof by diverting it to a storage tank. The water can then be pumped and/or treated for a variety of uses including irrigation, gardening, livestock and domestic uses such as flushing toilets[2]. Without proper treatment it is usually not suitable for direct human consumption due to contamination of collection surfaces[3].

At Rediscovery Centre, rain that falls on the centre’s roof is harvested and used for flushing toilets and irrigating the rooftop garden. Rainwater harvesting supports a circular economy by reducing the demand for treated drinking water and additional water abstraction.

Setting up a rainwater harvesting system is a big undertaking with a lot of factors to consider. The Renewable Energy Hub in the UK provides an excellent breakdown of the benefits and challenges of installing such a building in your home or business.

[1] Benefits of Rainwater Collection | The Renewable Energy Hub

[2] Benefits of Rainwater Collection | The Renewable Energy Hub

[3] Rainwater Collection | Private Water Systems | Drinking Water | Healthy Water | CDC

The development of public sanitation in 19th-century Britain contributed to significant public health improvements at that time, particularly in urban areas[1]. However, the treatment of wastewater requires water, energy and chemicals for disinfection and removes water and nutrients from the natural cycle. Circular approaches to water and wastewater management, like rainwater harvesting and reed bed systems, can provide local and sustainable solutions.

Here at Rediscovery Centre, we treat our wastewater using a reed bed system. This system involves several layers of reeds planted in gravel and sand. Wastewater from the hand sinks, shower and toilets in the centre is fed into the tank at the top of the reed bed system and uses gravity to pass through the system. As the wastewater moves through the beds, microorganisms on the surface of the root system remove suspended organic matter, pathogens and serve to denitrify the water[2]. Importantly, the reed bed system treats the water without the use of harmful chemicals or septic tanks. This system improves circularity by reducing the need for chemical resources to treat wastewater on an ongoing basis.

Learn more about nature-based wastewater management at the Local Authority Waters Programme, or through this webinar from the International Water Association

In 2021 research was carried out at University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin looking at the potential for such approaches to enhance water quality protection nationally.

[1] Tim Wainwright: How the “Great Stink” of Victorian London heralded a sanitary revolution – The BMJ

[2] https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4441/10/2/156

Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for plant growth. While phosphorus occurs naturally in soil, global agriculture has been supplemented for the past 150 years with fertiliser produced using phosphate rock, primarily mined in the USA, China and Morocco[1] [2]. However, mineral phosphorus is running out and scientists are looking for alternative sources and methods to ensure plant growth[3]. What’s more, inorganic phosphorus from synthetic fertilisers have become a major source of water pollution both in freshwater catchments and oceans[4].

Rediscovery Centre’s plumbing system illustrates one circular method through which phosphorous can be diverted from the sewerage system and delivered to plants. Urine from the urinal in the building is diluted and diverted to the pipes in our living wall in the gantry. The plants in the living wall take up the nutrients from the diluted urine.

Learn more about global phosphorus production from Nature.com. A recent National Geographic article discusses new approaches to phosphorus use in farming. Catchments.ie provides information about the impact of phosphorus on Irish water bodies.

Are there ways to introduce more circular plumbing systems where you live?

[1] Farmers are facing a phosphorus crisis. The solution starts with soil.

[2] Mineral Resource of the Month: Phosphate Rock.

[3] https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/farmers-are-facing-a-phosphorus-crisis-the-solution-starts-with-soil

[4] Global phosphorus shortage will be aggravated by soil erosion | Nature Communications

Keeping existing buildings in use to avoid demolition and extraction of additional raw materials is a core concept of the circular economy. For us, retaining elements of the old Boiler House demonstrates circular principles, but also serves a social purpose in retaining a cultural landmark for those who are part of Ballymun. The physical landscape tells important stories about how towns, neighbourhoods, and places are formed. The Boiler House and the pieces of the old building that have been preserved by Rediscovery Centre help to tell the story of Ballymun.

The Boiler House was built along with the original development of the Ballymun tower blocks in the 1960s. The building housed four massive boilers powered by oil and natural gas, providing hot water and heating to 36 blocks of flats or 2,800 families at its peak. One of the boilers has been retained to demonstrate the previous function and capacity of the Boiler House and to maintain the link with Ballymun’s history. Indeed, the Boiler House itself is one of very few public buildings that was retained following the regeneration of Ballymun. Therefore, it is an important historical and cultural link for the locality.

To learn more about circular building principles see our built environment showcase.

As German playwright Bertolt Brecht said, “Art is not a mirror to reflect reality, but a hammer with which to shape it”. We believe that transitioning to a circular economy requires a substantial cultural shift in terms of how humans see ourselves in the world. Cultural and artistic expression is crucial in providing creative critique of the state of things and in imagining new pathways that society may follow.

At Rediscovery Centre, we seek to provide a space for such expression. Sculptures like Seasca – the Irish word for 60 – illustrate innovative and creative reuse of industrial materials. It also links the centre in its present form with its past as a district heating facility. The creative opportunities for reuse are highlighted throughout the centre in the building, the garden, the reuse and repair workshops and through the items stocked in the eco-store.

Why not explore reused materials you might otherwise throw away next time you are working creatively?

See Rediscovery Centre’s events page for upcoming workshops across a range of areas.

The average European Union citizen generated more than half a tonne of municipal waste in 2021

Municipal waste statistics.
Eco Store internal shot, up-cycled lamps, tables, chairs and clothing are featured
Eco Store internal shot, up-cycled lamps, tables, chairs and clothing are featured

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