‘Interest in sustainable construction, both from private sector individuals and businesses and from the public sector has grown rapidly in the last couple of years. Unfortunately the ability of the industry to respond to this interest is under developed’ – Tom Woolley.

Over the months since the inception of Construct Ireland our daily conversations with those of you in industry has brought us to the inescapable conclusion that a collective meeting ground is of vital importance to ensure the proactive future of sustainability in our society. Construct Ireland is involved with three leading architects in the formation of an association to promote the viability of sustainable building in Ireland. The fledgling association has a nucleus of Duncan Stewart (RTE1’s About the House), Professor Tom Woolley (Queens’ University Belfast), Paul Leech (Leech-Gaia Ecotecture), and our own editor Jeff Colley, who have come together out of a mutual belief that products and techniques with environmental, human health, energy efficiency and social benefits have enormous potential for application in
mainstream construction work.

Duncan Stewart
’We’ve gone through a changing time throughout the world. Awareness of environmental and ecological issues has come very much to the fore. With all this change and the pressure on the environment, sustainability is becoming a centrepiece in our lives. There is a huge desire out there to do the right thing, but also a huge lack of knowledge and a huge lack of awareness of issues, and availability of products, systems and trade skills and so on, especially in the self build industry.’ – Duncan Stewart.

The association will be run independently, as a professional concern, but will nonetheless look to forge close relationships with similarly minded organisations such as the Irish Ecological Design Association (IEDA), the UK based Association of Environment Conscious Building (AECB), and many other bodies that can play a part in bringing sustainability to the fore. As Duncan Stewart states, ‘this offers other bodies and groups a platform. It won’t be an exclusive little group trying to preciously guard its territory. We want to foster other groups.’

Construct Ireland will include a comprehensive EASCA section in each forthcoming edition. Additionally, several national media sources have already expressed a desire to feature the association, as have countless regional papers and radio producers. Raising awareness of the benefits of sustainable building will be a central role of the association, with regard to the general public and the burgeoning self-build market, and to companies in all areas of the construction industry. According to Paul Leech, EASCA will be of significant benefit to ‘the users of the buildings in health terms, and to those who are prepared to innovate and lead on the supply side.’

One of the immediate concerns identified by the association is the lack of a thorough, complete resource of information on the products, services, and associations throughout Ireland equipped to deliver improved performance in the various areas of a building’s design and construction. To this end, Construct Ireland is roducing its own Green Pages contacts book, which will feature information on anything from architects, to timber frame companies, to renewable energy products and consultants, to conservation experts, indexed regionally, and by trade. This is being coordinated to facilitate trade, and should ultimately lead to substantial increases in the uptake of techniques and technologies geared towards a more sustainable approach to building. The Green Pages will draw from Construct Ireland’s existing database, and so will be circulated extensively within the trade, and to leading newsagents nationwide, along with other relevant outlets, including health shops, sustainable living centres and energy agencies.

‘There are many designs and solutions that don’t actually work. Mistakes are being made. Yet out there is a huge resource of very well proven products, systems, experts and skills. It’s a matter of coordinating these so that on one level the consumer trying to do the right thing can source the right product or system and at the same time those providing the right skills have a market. Construct Ireland is a natural catalyst for this, it’s a synergy base.’ – Duncan Stewart.

Jeff Colley

Lobbying has been identified as another key area where the association intends to have a lasting effect. ‘There needs to be a pressure group, a lobbying pressure group’, Stewart states. ‘EASCA could form a very large network that could put pressure on agencies and commercial companies. There’s a huge range of scope for the association.’ Construct Ireland, as a vehicle for the association, is perfectly poised to help in this regard. Construct Ireland is increasingly producing articles reminding the reader of Ireland’s commitments under directives as varied as the Kyoto Protocol, the National Climate Change Strategy, the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, the WEEE and ROHS directives, the thorough and ongoing revision of the Building Regulations, the introduction of energy auditing for virtually all buildings, the Polluter Pays Principle, and the imminent introduction of a Carbon Tax.

EASCA will be an association of ‘doers’, not just wafflers, which should really make a difference to ‘best practice’ here. It can lead the way for the mainstream construction sector, which needs guidance on how to negotiate the carrots and sticks shortly to be introduced by governance.’ – Paul Leech

Paul Leech
Furthermore Construct Ireland is committed to highlighting the problems faced by certain fledgling industries, due to lack of governmental support, and problems faced in seeking planning or insurance, for instance. In all such cases, Construct Ireland is concerned with ensuring that the right measures are introduced
and implemented, through a recognition that the resultant raise in standards plays a vital role in creating market conditions for sustainable building to flourish.

‘EASCA will network together architects, builders, suppliers of materials and others in the construction industry, so that they are able to respond to the interest in sustainable construction and assist each other in providing a professional and commercially viable service.’ – Tom Woolley

Tom Wooley
EASCA ultimately aims to help create distribution networks, and to help introduce products and materials geared towards sustainability into the Irish market. The association is currently identifying merchants and showrooms interested in involvement in this regard.
Developments are ongoing, and include a presentation and clinic, supported by Construct Ireland, at the Cultivate Centre in Temple Bar on November 23rd. Readers interested in further information, such as membership details, should emailThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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