First Published in Passive House Plus.
In this new #BuildingLife Ambassador Spotlight Series, Passive House Plus is profiling leaders who have endorsed the Irish Green Building Council’s call to address the environmental impacts of buildings across their lifecycle.
In this sixth interview of the series, Eoin Ó Broin T.D., and Sinn Féin’s spokesperson for Housing, tells us more about the campaign and why he is supporting it.
Why did you choose to become a #BuildingLife ambassador?
EoB: Through my work on housing and collaboration with the IGBC, I became aware of the need to rethink our housing development. I believe that not only we need more homes, but we can build these homes at a lower cost, while tackling climate change and affordability at the same time. Addressing embodied carbon is the way to do this. It allows us to tackle our carbon emissions while delivering high-quality homes. That’s why I am delighted to support the #BuildingLife campaign.
What are you hoping to achieve with the #BuildingLife campaign?
EoB: We have reached a turning point in the housing crisis and in how we develop our urban environment. We can preserve the status quo and continue to build as we have done for the last decades, but we know this is not good for our carbon emissions, affordability or liveability. Or we can introduce real, long lasting political changes at local and national levels to support a complete paradigm shift in what we build and how we build it. I passionately believe this is the only way to deliver low carbon, affordable homes, while improving people’s quality of life in our towns and cities. I support the #BuildingLife campaign to ensure the ten of thousands of new homes we need to build are good quality, affordable, zero carbon homes.
Can you explain a few ways in which you and Sinn Féin are working towards a sustainable built environment?
EoB: We can’t decarbonise our built environment without cross-party support. We all need to work together to lead that change. I recently asked a question to Minister Noonan on embodied carbon and I am bringing the findings of the #BuildingLife campaign to the Oireachtas Committee on Housing. A hearing on “Carbon and Energy within the Construction Industry” was organised in early May. We have a real opportunity to shape government’s legislation and policy on this topic. We need to support modern methods of construction (MMC) and the development of biobased materials. The state can directly support this transition through public procurement and the strategic investment fund. Enterprise Ireland could also better support the development of these technologies in Ireland. So many things can be achieved and now is the time to do it. High quality, mid-rise mixed developments are already being built with these technologies in other jursidictions. Dalston Works in England is a good example of a 10-storey carbon negative timber frame building. Per square metre, it was also cheaper to build than a standard apartment block in Dublin 2. These are exciting development that show we could address the housing crisis, while reducing embodied carbon emissions quickly. Tackling our transport and agriculture emissions will be challenging, but addressing embodied carbon is a no brainer. It will contribute to a significant reduction in our carbon emissions, while allowing us to deliver cheaper, better quality homes faster. That’s why I believe we need to act on these emissions now and I am absoluty keen to work on this.
#BuildingLife is a project led in Ireland by the Irish Green Building Council. The initiative aims to achieve the mix of privasector action and public policy necessary to tackle the whole-life impact of buildings. Learn more here.