Competition launched to design buildings with exemplary energy standards

A major forum of over 300 building industry professionals was told today that significant upskilling is required across the industry if government targets for the energy performance of buildings are to be achieved. The event, ‘Sustainable Architecture Now’, was organised by Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) in association with the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) and the Office of Public Works (OPW).

The forum was opened by Eamon Ryan, Minister for Energy, Communications and Natural Resources who announced a new support scheme for housing projects that demonstrate ambitious low energy and low carbon strategies and technologies. Also announced at the forum was a new competition inviting architects to design three building types exemplifying superior energy performance standards. These conceptual designs will include a new primary school, a housing retrofit, and an RIAI extension building.

Members of the architecture, construction, engineering and surveying professions attending the forum were provided with practical guidance on detailed sustainable design approaches aimed at meeting or surpassing the government’s energy efficiency and carbon reduction targets for the built environment. These targets have been set as part of the National Energy Efficiency Plan for Ireland 2007 – 2020 which commits to a 20% improvement in energy efficiency by 2020. Two thirds of this will come from the built environment with over 50% set to come from the residential sector. The conference follows the introduction of new building regulations this month which will result in a 40% improvement in energy efficiency and a 40% reduction in CO2 emissions for new homes.

Brendan Halligan, chairman, SEI said: “Government has put in place strong policy measures, in the form of both regulations and incentives, to significantly improve the energy performance of the built environment and to meet the demanding targets which have been set. Delivering on these targets and the longer term ambition of low or zero carbon buildings will require an unprecedented level of mobilization and response from the entire building industry. Today’s event is a significant step in equipping the design professions in particular to rise to this challenge”.

Seán Ó Laoire, president, RIAI said: “Sustainable design needs to be part of normal practice in the built environment. Architects are at the forefront of delivering on this. If our commitments to preventing climate change are to be delivered on, then how we design and make our buildings is a critical factor. The RIAI, in association with SEI and the OPW, aim to build a database of best practice, so that architects can become the pathfinders, thought leaders, and practitioners of sustainable design in all its aspects.”

Pat Cooney, OPW commented; “As the major provider of buildings for government, the Office of Public Works occupies a special position in contributing to Ireland’s national policy commitments on sustainable energy and CO2 abatement. Our activities in the area of sustainable design expanded in the last decade and are now at the core of our practice and professional responsibilities in construction. Furthermore, they underpin our commitments to the Kyoto Protocol, the National Biodiversity Plan and the government Policy on Architecture.”

Last modified on Tuesday, 22 July 2008 14:33