Friday, 27th November: The role of the finance industry in supporting the development of greener homes was extensively discussed at the Irish Green Building Council’s annual residential conference today.
Ireland can only reach carbon neutrality if new homes are built in a truly sustainable way and institutional investors are getting serious about sustainability. These were some of the key messages of the Better Homes conference.
Pat Barry, CEO of the Irish Green Building Council said: “New homes built to the current building regulations are highly energy efficient. But with half a million homes to be built by 2040, we cannot afford to focus exclusively on this. The conversation needs to move on to the total environmental impacts of the built environment across its entire lifecycle. It’s encouraging that international investors already set broader environmental requirements for the assets they purchase and operate in Ireland”.
Niels Kristien Johne of PensionDanmark explained: “If we are to meet the objective of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2050 it will require massive investments. For the past ten years, PensionDanmark has been investing in sustainable real estate, and we plan to step up our investments in the coming years. All the homes and office buildings we construct are certified to ambitious sustainability standards, going beyond current regulations. It’s possible to do good and do well at the same time”.
To ensure broader sustainability issues such as whole life carbon and resource efficiency, are measured and fully taken into account when building new residential developments, the Irish Green Building Council have developed the Home Performance Index. The certification gives a third-party verified seal for financial institutions, procurers, buyers and developers.
The recent publication of the European Taxonomy Regulation which aims to define EU-recognized criteria for identifying sustainable activities going beyond energy efficiency, will also impact investments in green homes in Ireland in the coming years.
Darragh O’Brien TD, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage added: “The Department of Housing is committed to increase the supply of new homes, ensuring everybody has access to good-quality housing. With the nZEB standard, new homes are extremely energy efficient. We are determined to keep leading by example and will use Green Public Procurement to reach the Government’s climate ambition, while delivering much needed, quality homes”.
The conference also heard that technological solutions exist and that they can be implemented at scale.
Andrew Waugh, founding director of Waugh Thistleton Architects explained: “In 2017, we completed Dalston Works, a 10-storey apartment building made entirely of cross-laminated timber (CLT) from the first floor up. This technology significantly reduces the carbon impact of buildings in terms of both material production, and construction time and energy consumption. We cannot tackle climate change without addressing buildings’ whole life carbon emissions”.