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Green Building News

In Ireland, a Plan to Weatherize One Million Buildings

The ambitious plan sets a goal of performing one million energy retrofits by 2020

Professor J. Owen Lewis is the CEO of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Irleand.
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Reprinted with permission from Construct Ireland

One million residential, public and commercial buildings in Ireland will get energy upgrades by 2020 under the latest national retrofit strategy. A consultation was launched this morning on the plan, which will aim to deliver 8,000 GWh of energy savings between 2011 and 2020.

The program also proposes to drastically overhaul the grants system to make it more appealing, giving consumers up-front discounts on the cost of energy-saving products and services rather than a retrospective grant.

Of the total energy reduction target, half must be achieved by energy suppliers and the other half by energy service providers such as installers listed on the Home Energy Saving scheme, Warmer Homes scheme and Greener Homes scheme.

Three quarters of all funding under the program will go to the domestic [residential] sector, with 40% of this directed towards fighting energy poverty.

Half of all funding will be filtered through energy suppliers, while the other half will be available to energy service providers to offer discounts on their products and services. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Irleand (SEAI) will handle all applications for funding, and will establish an energy efficiency fund – set to include hundreds of millions of Euro in bank finance – to be utilised for energy upgrade investments.

Reacting to the launch, SEAI CEO Prof J Owen Lewis told Construct Ireland: “There is a really big opportunity here for the construction industry, but it also presents some challenges. We would be hoping to see some fresh thinking about ways of scaling up to address the challenge, and putting really considerable emphasis into performance and delivery so that the public has the right to expect really high performance delivery. The scale of it is very exciting in the light of the capital review. In terms of addressing the climate change mitigation imperative, the construction industry can deliver best value – as study after study has shown.”

The building energy rating sale will be “at the center of energy savings calculations” — all financial support will be contingent on measures achieving published energy savings.

Energy minister Eamon Ryan has set an initial target of 2,000 GWh savings for 2013. Energy suppliers can enter into a voluntary agreement with SEAI that will commit them to achieving a specific energy reduction target. If a supplier doesn’t enter into such an agreement or fails to meet their target, the minister for energy may oblige it to achieve certain savings.

Suppliers are expected to achieve energy reductions though a variety of means, including more efficient energy generation and undertaking home energy upgrades.

A quarter of all funding will be focused on the public sector, and the program will aim to retrofit 1,000 public buildings by 2020.

The new retrofit program will begin in January next year, and a consultation on the plan is currently open. A consultation document is available to download here. All current SEAI grant schemes will continue as normal until the new plan is finalized.


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