Five construction industry bodies have asked the Ministers for Finance, Housing and Climate Action to take a more holistic approach to energy renovation.
The Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland – ACEI, Engineers Ireland – EI, the Irish Green Building Council – IGBC, the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland – RIAI – and the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland – SCSI – have written to Ministers Donohoe, Murphy and Naughten to express concern at the lack of coordinated approach to renovation and urban regeneration.
The organisations urge the government to bring abandoned and underutilised buildings in town and city centres into use through high quality renovations. Pat Barry, CEO of the IGBC explained: “Quality energy upgrades of these properties can cut Ireland’s buildings and transport related emissions. People living in central locations are usually less reliant on cars.”
Kathryn Meghen, CEO of the RIAI said: “A new approach is needed to meet our changing challenges – with an increasing and aging population it is essential that we utilize our existing buildings to create vibrant cities, towns and villages that are economically, socially and culturally sustainable. Much of our existing building stock can be revitalized to meet these needs.”
The open letter identifies critical actions in supporting and implementing this approach.
Large amounts of empty and underutilised properties are evident in most Irish towns and cities. However, comprehensive data on the scale of the issue and on why these properties are vacant or underused is missing. The 5 industry bodies suggest carrying out a comprehensive study to gain a better understanding of the situation.
Retrofitting houses with energy efficiency measures can create warm and healthy homes. Retrofitting whole neighbourhoods can create healthy sustainable communities. The organisations hence recommend setting up a task group with representatives from government, industry and local authorities to examine how high-quality home retrofits can drive the regeneration of Ireland’s inner towns and cities.
Caroline Spillane, Director General, EI added: “Each project is different and should reflect both the place and its people. Highly skilled professionals have a key role to play in ensuring we not only achieve more energy efficient buildings, but buildings that meet our communities’ needs and improve occupants’ health and wellbeing”.
According to Áine Myler, Director General, SCSI: “Many building professionals are investing time and energy in delivering high quality, innovative renovations. They are keen to work with government to tackle the housing crisis and ensure we reach our climate targets”.
Sarah Ingle, Secretary General, ACEI added: “The industry needs clear signals from government that retrofit-led regenerations are encouraged and fully supported using a variety of means”.
A copy of the full letter is available on the Irish Green Building Council website, www.igbc.ie.