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We sat down with Filipe Azevedo, sustainability engineer at Lawler Sustainability, to learn more about the green building market in Ireland.
It is now unanimous among the scientific community that the current efforts to sustain global temperatures from rising more than 1.5ºC will fall short. If humanity as a whole fails to prevent this milestone, the people of Ireland will be exposed to the following threats:
Through the new European Green Deal, the EU is proposing to raise its 2030 carbon reduction targets from 40 to 55%, which will imply an improvement greater than 32.5% in energy efficiency.
As a member of the EU, in 2019 Ireland has issued their Climate Action Plan which sets a decarbonisation pathway to 2030, consistent with the adoption of a net zero target by 2050. The built environment, responsible for 35% of Ireland’s final energy consumption, and emitting 58% more CO2 than the European average, has a key role to play in this transition.
Green buildings, besides consuming less resources and emitting less greenhouse gases, have the added benefit of operational savings that payback for additional capital costs in a short timeframe.
We are at the crossroads of a period of significant transition, not only for the green building industry but also for sustainability and preservation as a whole. The effects of climate change are now starting to be visible and felt for the first time, after decades of warnings. The global pandemic has increased this perception: research from E.ON shows that 34% percent of consumers are now willing to pay a premium for green products since the pandemic struck.
On the supply side, 54% of Irish organisations participating in the World Green Building Trends 2028 SmartMarket Report expect all of their projects to be “green” by 2021, which is above the survey average (47%). The benefits of building green are clearer among developers and clients: a green building has lower operating costs, promotes occupants’ health and well-being and sells/rents for a premium compared to other buildings.
In Ireland, more than 60% of green building certifications have been achieved between 2018 and 2020, and with the country’s ambitious sustainability targets previously mentioned and subsidies and grants for energy efficiency, we see the industry ramping up in the coming years.
EDGE, originally thought out as a certification scheme for emerging markets, fills a clear gap that previously existed among the other certification schemes. EDGE was designed to be faster, easier, and more affordable than the other options on the market which makes it suited to respond to the urgency of the transition we are facing. By keeping certification fast and inexpensive, EDGE keeps pace with the momentum that developers need to stay at the forefront of the green building trend.
Additionally, EDGE has a clear focus on highlighting the economic benefits of the green measures that award the certification: the software shows within minutes how committing to a few practical energy and water-saving measures improves building performance with very short payback times. This way developers can test the impact of each individual measure and very easily find the most economically viable path to building green.
The pathway to a more sustainable future will not consist of a single solution as when it comes to the problem we have in hands, there is no one-size-fits-all answer.
EDGE fills a clear gap that existed in the green building certification schemes market. By focusing on achieving a 20% reduction in energy consumption, water consumption and embodied energy in materials when compared to a local base case, it can be faster, more affordable, and easier to use to use, making it ideal, for example, for companies that wish to certify a large portfolio of buildings.
Increasing the uptake of green building certification amongst industry professionals will therefore be key to driving the wider sustainability agenda ensuring we meet our 2030 carbon reduction targets. To save the planet for our future generations we need to act now and this is the main driver for why I personally am involved with the Edge certification program – after all small steps lead to big changes.
Lawler Sustainability offers a variety of services to clients, including:
“One of the biggest barriers in tackling climate change is awareness and through strategic partnerships and alliances like Sintali-SGS we can increase the uptake and urgency within organisations to decarbonise our energy use and stimulate the green economy.“Filipe Azevedo, sustainability engineer, Lawler Sustainability