Lifetime Lab has been developed at the site of the old Cork City Waterworks which was responsible for supplying water to Cork city over three centuries. The site which had been derelict for over 30 years, contained several buildings constructed from the mid 18th century to the early 20th century. In 2005, Cork City Council secured funding from the European Economic Area's EFTA states for the restoration of the site and its development into an educational and recreational facility.
Today, Lifetime Lab is a major educational, recreational and tourist attraction. It houses a Visitor Centre that contains an interactive multimedia exhibition designed on the theme of sustainable living, a Meeting Room with tele-conferencing facilities and a Steam Centre which is still fully equipped with boilers and engines from the early 1900s. Also located at Lifetime Lab are a Schools Resource Centre where hand-on science workshops are delivered by qualified teachers to primary school children, Cork City Energy Agency, a playground and a coffee dock.
In its first year of opening, Lifetime Lab welcomed 12,000 visitors and has received five awards for different elements of its design including architecture, heritage, building restoration, education and environmental performance.
Lifetime Lab is one of the best examples of using local renewable energy resources in Cork as approximately 85% its energy demand is generated from renewable energy.
The space heating and hot water requirements for the whole site are met by two geothermal heat pumps and 20 m2 solar thermal collectors. A wind turbine has been installed to power a fountain in the garden and 8 m2 solar photovoltaic panels have also been installed to generate electricity for the outdoor lighting at the site. The remaining electricity used at the site is sourced from the old turbine house which has been restored and is now is generating hydro electricity. The heat and electricity use on site is monitored and controlled by a BMS (Building Management System).
Cork City Energy Agency has assisted in the design and development of Lifetime Lab, and now monitors the BMS and the energy equipment on site. The Agency also works with Lifetime Lab staff in order to reduce energy consumption and increase energy efficiency on site and to promote the idea of energy conservation to all visitors.