A look at what’s happening on the sustainability side of Ireland’s construction industry

Monaghan-based IJM Timber Engineering has secured funding under Enterprise Ireland’s ‘Built to Innovate’ initiative, a programme aimed at achieving faster, higher-quality construction of housing by providing funding support for productivity training, innovation and the introduction of digital, paperless systems.

Peter McCaughey, Managing Director, IJM Timber Engineering, said: “With the support of Enterprise Ireland, we are now entering a new phase of development that will be of enormous benefit to our clients and help us increase our output to meet the needs of the Housing for All plan. By the end of 2025, we plan to have nearly doubled our capacity from 1,100 to 2,000 units per annum, which will be achieved through increased productivity in our 10-acre facility in Monaghan and other facilities in Dundalk and Ardee. We look forward to bringing our operations to another level and using Lean to improve on efficiencies achieved to date.”

The Irish Architecture Foundation (IAF) is calling on community groups and their local architects to partner together to develop and submit projects for regenerating their local town or village centres, as part of a new initiative called ‘Hometown Architect’. The open call is inviting community groups to create and submit a project in partnership with an architect who has a connection to their town or village. The architect can either be currently living in the town or village, have grown up there, or have family in the locality. Five successful projects will be awarded €10,000 each, to put towards developing their proposal further. Submissions will be assessed by a panel of experts including architects, IAF staff and Town Centre First Policy experts. More details are available from www.ReimaginePlace.ie/open-call

The world’s biggest nations are putting the 2050 net zero targets signed under the Paris Agreement in doubt, by moving too slowly to refurbish buildings and cut carbon emissions, a new study conducted by sustainability consultancy 3Keel for Kingspan has warned. The Global Retrofit Index assesses the progress G20 countries are making to reduce emissions from existing buildings. In Ireland, one of the key objectives of the Government Energy Efficiency Directive is that one-third of commercial buildings will be retrofitted to a BER level of B by 2030. Yet, less than 1% of existing buildings in major economies are being given the necessary retrofitting upgrade — through energy efficiency renovations and refurbishments — each year. This is well below the International Energy Agency (IEA) target of 2.5% rate by 2030. Bianca Wong, Global Head of Sustainability at Kingspan, said: “We have the tools, solutions and technologies needed to improve energy performance in buildings. We now need to apply these at scale. We must work together locally and globally to increase the pace of building refurbishments. That means finding innovative models for funding, supporting policy changes, minimising disruption for the public and ensuring high levels of energy savings over the lifetime of the retrofitted buildings.”

Mid-Ulster based Setanta Construction is looking towards revolutionising the housing market here and further afield through the development of low energy, volumetric, Passive certified homes. The company recently unveiled the construction of its ‘SoLow’ pilot housing project at its site in Magherafelt to a group of international delegates attending the ‘Building a Sustainable Future’ conference in Northern Ireland and detailed their plans for growth within the energy efficient housing market.

Mark Gribbin, Director at Setanta Construction said: “Our newly launched ‘SoLow’ volumetric house aims to put energy performance at the heart of the housing market, delivering significant cost, time, health and environmental benefits for all. We’ve worked alongside industry experts in the design process including The Electric Storage Company to ensure outstanding functional performance throughout. Key components include 4kW of photo voltaic panels installed with an 11kw electric storage battery with heating and hot water provided by an integrated heat pump and ventilation system.”


Denise Maguire   Editor of Irish Construction Industry Magazine & Plan Magazine