Tuesday 12th April: Fifty leading Irish businesses met today in Google’s European headquarters, Dublin to assist Government in decarbonising Ireland’s building stock.
This represents the first major attempt following on from COP21 agreement to develop an ambitious action plan for the building sector – a sector that is responsible for up to 30% of Ireland’s carbon emissions.
Particular issues identified in the meeting included the split incentive between landlords and tenants about who gets the benefit from greener buildings. It also explored different business models to scale up the level of commercial renovation in Ireland.
The workshop was attended by a range of organizations including the leading estate agencies, banks, business organizations, construction institutes, energy companies and construction businesses.
Pat Barry Executive director of the Irish Green Building Council stated the scale of the challenge and the benefits for business – “Irish Business are beginning to realize the massive benefits of renovating their own premises, as this is not just about saving money on energy bills, but the added value of increased staff retention due to higher quality workspaces and increased productivity. It also improves the image for the company in the eyes of their customers and investors who increasingly assess sustainability as a key risk”.
Michael Donohoe, Director – Corporate Services with Colliers International added: “With a shortage of quality office space and changing trends in workspace design and usage, the idea to support deep renovation of the existing stock of office buildings demonstrates how to facilitate the market to be proactive in shaping and ‘future proofing’ the supply of quality workspace to meet future occupier requirements. This is key to ensure Ireland provides the range of quality ‘Workplace Products’ for business to support economic recovery”.
Speaking at today’s workshop, Bianca Wong, Sustainability Manager at Kingspan said: “Commercial buildings represent a significant proportion of Ireland’s total energy consumption. Renovation in the sector could achieve substantial energy savings which in turn would help to deliver our ambitious climate and energy targets to 2020 and beyond”.
Today’s event focused on the estimated 109,000 buildings in the commercial sector. This was the first of six high level Building Renovation Workshops organised by the Irish Green Building Council and supported by the Department of Communications Energy and Natural resources, as part of the European Commission funded Build Upon Project.
The aim of the Build Upon project is to bring together a diverse range of organisations to support government in designing an ambitious national renovation strategy for Ireland – A strategy that will deliver a fully decarbonised built environment that ensures a better quality of life for all Irish citizens. This strategy is required by 30 April 2017 under EU law.
Talking about this process, Mags Dalton, Project Manager at PM Group said: “We believe stakeholder engagement is vital to the process of renovation. The renovation workshops and Build Upon project provide a structured platform for this engagement. While some landlords, tenants and Irish businesses are already engaging in sustainable renovations, a national strategy will be key to widespread adoption of sustainable building renovation.”
The next workshop in the series will take place on 25th May in Dublin and will focus on large-scale deep renovation in the residential buildings sector in urban areas.