Upgrading our homes so that they use less energy is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce Ireland’s greenhouse-gas emissions. Energy renovation can also improve the lives of people who experience fuel poverty. However, poor quality retrofits can potentially have a detrimental impact on a property and the health of its occupants.
Over the last 18 months, the Irish Green Building Council (IGBC) has worked in close cooperation with DCCAE to co-design an ambitious national energy renovation strategy for Ireland. More than 190 key stakeholders and experts from a broad range of backgrounds took part in an extensive consultation process, which led to the publication of a set of recommendations for a better national renovation strategy.
Throughout the process, workshop participants have constantly highlighted that a lack of skills presents one of the main risks to the successful implementation of the strategy. Construction professionals and construction workers are at the interface with end-users and are well placed to advise them on renovation on a daily basis.
Yet, lack of skills could lead to a lack of coherent advice, poor quality work and ultimately to a general loss of confidence in the process as cases of building and health problems from inappropriate upgrading works emerge.
Skills gaps identified during the consultation process include basic building physics, risk evaluation and consumer interaction. As the construction industry picks up, workshop participants feel that construction workers and construction professionals must be better incentivised to upskill in deep energy renovation. Client’s insistence for high quality work could act as a driver for upskilling.
However, this could only be achieved if deep renovation awareness is raised at all levels of Irish society, and if the identification of construction workers and professionals who have upskilled in deep renovation is made as easy as possible. For all those reasons, the introduction of skills cards for construction workers and construction professionals was identified as key in supporting retrofit uptake in Ireland.
This blogpost was initially published for Ireland’s Fuel Poverty Conference 2017.