First Published in Irish Construction News
In this new #BuildingLife Ambassador blog post, Robbie Cousins from Irish Construction News spoke with LDA Head of Property, Phelim O’Neill about how the IGBC’s whole life carbon campaign ties in with Land Development Agency sustainability strategy.
The Land Development Agency (LDA) is a commercial state-sponsored body established in 2018 on the back of the objective of Project Ireland 2040 (PI2040) to coordinate land within state control for more optimal uses where appropriate, with a focus on the provision of housing.
Phelim O’Neill, Head of Property, LDA, was one of the three staff members to open the LDA offices in early 2019. Today, the body employs 70 people and is beginning on-site works on two major sites in Dublin and Cork, the first of many large-scale projects over the coming years.
Sustainability & Whole Life Carbon
Phelim points out that the LDA has had sustainability embedded in operations from day one.
“We adopted the Home Performance Index (HPI), which is run by the Irish Green Building Council (IGBC). This gives us many metrics that look at numerous criteria, not just the typology or density. It looks at location, transport, biodiversity, etc. So, it gives us a great baseline to benchmark schemes.
He explains that looking at the whole-life carbon element of any development is one of the keys to its sustainability.
“Managing construction inputs is only one part of reducing the whole-life carbon impact of a development. Because we have a cost rental model for many of the units we are developing, we want to fully understand and design for the full life cycle of our buildings.
“So, our starting point is to design for a sustainable future. To this end, we part-funded the Carbon designer tool with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the IGBC. This is an early-stage whole life carbon counter tool that looks at the possible outcomes of different options considered for developments.
“The key challenge is to have enough reliable information to look at and understand the different options we can use to increase sustainability.
“As an island nation with a small market in the context of the world economy, Ireland is not a hugely attractive market to some manufacturers as, say, much of the rest of Europe and the UK. Because of this, the sector as a whole will have to work collaboratively across public, private, and various agencies to attract larger operators into the Irish market and give them confidence that there is a strong pipeline of orders that can be achieved while also supporting and growing our indigenous capacity.”
Phelim O’Neill says that the whole life carbon of the built environment is on everyone’s radar now “because, quite simply, it’s now on end-users’ radars, whether it be a commercial building, workplace, homeowner or tenant.
“Energy efficiency or sustainability is no longer about wanting to build an A-rated unit, it now requires a more sophisticated and holistic approach. It covers every part of the building process and the building’s life cycle. It is driven by end-user requirements as much as corporate strategies. Sustainability must be front and centre of all decision-making across the entire construction sector.
“Sustainability is a key pillar of the LDA business plan, and the IGBC is the market leader in this space. As we had already been working with the IGBC, #BuildingLife was an obvious tie-in.
“The IGBC and our passive housing consultant Mosari were key in bringing us up the learning curve and increasing our knowledge so that we can be active and effective in this space.”
O’Neill adds that a big challenge with whole-life carbon is procurement. “As an island nation, we are limited in terms of specifying, particularly at this time when resources and supply chain are challenged. The availability of product options is a limiting factor, but Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) can be used in the design specification to drive sustainability.
Early team involvement
“From a property perspective, we’re dealing with projects from site assessment all the way through to asset management. Creating awareness and establishing a culture that considers whole-life carbon impacts at early-stage decision making is essential. The earlier you consider this, the more impact you can have over the lifetime of the entire building. Bringing in everybody early from our own internal team, external teams, contractors and delivery partners is the best way forward.
“Everyone needs to be thinking about how we drive sustainability for the entirety of the lifecycle of a building or scheme.”
Modern methods of construction
Phelim O’Neill comments that MMC, digital construction, and lean construction are critical to growing LDA’s operations.
“We are looking at how to support the indigenous Irish MMC market as well as learning from markets that are far more mature in the MMC sector. It will require a concerted effort at scale across a number of agencies to manage compliance for existing systems and technologies entering the Irish market. The LDA is collaborating with the Construction Sector Group and Enterprise Ireland to try and unlock the obvious potential for this sector.”
Read the full article here.
In case you missed it, we launched “Building a Zero Carbon Ireland”, a roadmap to decarbonise Ireland’s Built Environment across its Whole Life Cycle.
To support this work we encourage all our members to endorse this roadmap and to communicate extensively with clients, suppliers, and policymakers about the importance of addressing whole-life carbon in the built environment.
#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.