Minister: NZEB co-benefits go far beyond climate action
The health, comfort and monetary benefits of building to the nearly zero energy building (NZEB) standard offers an opportunity to help convince Irish people of the benefits of climate action, housing minister Eoghan Murphy has said.
(above) pictured at the conference are (l-r) Martin Murray (NZEB Ireland), Art McCormack (MosArt), John Morehead & Barry McCarron (NZEB Ireland), Scott Foster (UNECE), Shane Colclough (NZEB Ireland), housing minister Eoghan Murphy, Andrée Dargan (DLR), Jeff Colley (NZEB Ireland), DLR Cathaoirleach Shay Brennan, Paul McAlister, Tomas O’Leary & Garret Quinn (NZEB Ireland) & Patrick Durkan (D|RES Properties).
Giving the opening address at the World NZEB Forum in Killiney on 14 November, the minister focused on the co-benefits of efforts to reduce energy use in buildings.
“It’s often the case when we talk about climate that we talk about the big picture – wouldn’t this be great in terms of eliminating our carbon footprint in the built environment?”, said Minister Murphy. “But when I meet families who’ve actually moved into NZEB homes, they talk about the fact that their home is much warmer, that they’ve always got hot water, about their energy bills being cheaper. They even talk about their health being better because of the better ventilation and air flow systems in these new homes. So, we talk a lot about climate change at the macro level – the big things we can do, but on the micro level – the day to day, in a thousand little ways it’s making really big improvements, and if we can get people to see that and understand that I think it’ll make it easier to change in the so many ways that we need to change.”
Addressing a sell-out audience of 330 delegates, Minister Murphy zoned in on the benefits of switching from fossil fuels in terms of air quality. “The World Health Organisation has talked about air pollution being the new tobacco. With our NZEB regs we want to effectively eliminate solid fuel and oil boilers as heating sources. That will have a big impact on air pollution. We won’t see it or feel it immediately, but that will have a big impact over time.”
The two day event was organised for NZEB Ireland by MosArt, and supported by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, with sponsors including gold sponsor Kingspan Insulation, silver sponsors MosArt, Nilan Ireland, D|RES Properties, Saint-Gobain and Mitsubishi Electric, and bronze sponsors Siga, Partel, and Waterford & Wexford Educational Training Board.
Pre-forum events on 13 November included visits to the council’s own NZEB social housing projects at George’s Place in Dún Laoghaire and the Rochestown House Enerphit scheme in Sallynoggin, followed by a workshop programme ranging from technical aspects of delivering NZEB to policy discussion on delivering deep retrofit at scale.
The main forum morning plenary, chaired by NZEB Ireland co-chairs Dr Shane Colclough and Paul McAlister, included a presentation on NZEB by Sean Armstrong, senior advisor in building standards at the Department of Housing, while Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown county architect Andrée Dargan gave an overview of the council’s long list of exemplary low energy new build and retrofit projects.
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Breakout sessions with panels of Irish and international experts were followed by a closing plenary session, chaired by Tomas O’Leary of conference organiser MosArt, including presentations by Lois Arena, building services engineer on flagship projects such as the Cornell Tech passive house tower in Manhattan; Richard Yancey, executive director of New York City’s Building Energy Exchange spoke on New York’s efforts to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050; with a closing address by Scott Foster, director of the sustainable energy division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, commending Ireland’s growing global leadership role in low energy building.
Foster’s address included the presentation of a new prototype Kooltherm insulation board by Kingspan Insulation, manufactured from recycled plastic bottles – and an announcement that Kingspan plan to remove 500 million bottles from the oceans each year to 2023, to be recycled and integrated into the new product.