Experts in the environment, architecture, construction, and engineering call on further contributions from industry to inform ongoing research
Healthy Homes Ireland (HHI), a high-level group of industry practitioners and academics, held its end-of-year forum on Tuesday, 13 December, in the Gibson Hotel, Dublin.
Founded in 2021, with the support of the Irish Green Building Council (IGBC) and VELUX, Healthy Homes Ireland brings together all stakeholders to address the health problems caused by existing low-quality homes. It also aims to ensure there is no compromise between health and energy efficiency in new build homes.
Following discussions at a meeting in July, the forum focused on issues pertaining to Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) – thermal comfort, indoor air quality, acoustics and daylighting in existing homes.
Healthy Homes Ireland forum
Opening the forum, Chair of HHI Kevin O’Rourke explained the importance of its remit, “One of our agreed priorities for a healthy home is good indoor environmental quality. The significant and growing issues with mould, poor lighting, noise pollution and insufficient heating and insulation in existing private, public and social housing in Ireland are a serious cause for concern. We have an opportunity, through this forum, to address these issues and inform public policy to advance greener, healthier homes. I would like to thank all of our speakers and attendees for their valuable contributions today, and we would welcome any further insights from industry that will inform our ongoing research.”
Indoor Environmental Quality
The detrimental effect of poor indoor environmental quality and public policy decisions on our health in Ireland and the UK, immediately focused minds with a striking keynote address via video link from Dr Gráinne McGill, a chancellor’s fellow in the University of Strathclyde’s Department of Architecture.
As one of the leaders in driving the HHI forum, the IGBC plays a key role in ensuring all aspects of IEQ are openly addressed. Johanna Varghese, Programme Manager, IGBC, said, “The forum has brought together a wide range of industry expertise and stakeholders from the housing sector, government departments, state agencies, approved housing bodies, social enterprises and academia. The focus from energy efficiency was broadened out to all aspects of indoor environmental quality in existing homes, as feeling healthy and comfortable in our homes means living better. The IGBC is proud to be a part of this forum and looks forward to the findings from our partners next year.”
A robust and informative panel discussion followed that afternoon with valuable contributions from expert panellists; Douglas Booker, Regional Clean Air Champion for West Midlands to Northwest of England for the UK Clean Air Programme; Dr Emmet English, Managing Director, Amplitude Acoustics and Dr Paul Kenny, Assistant Professor, UCD School of Architecture, who joined by video link.
Rachael McGinley, Head of Sustainability at CBRE Ireland, referred to the research she is leading on this topic and added, “Today’s forum and workshop session allowed forum members to hear from the CBRE Ireland team on initial findings and scoping work to date and the gaps identified by the project team in policies and support mechanisms in relation to IEQ in existing homes. Discussions and policy recommendations from the workshops today will now inform and direct the next stage of our research in relation to IEQ. We are delighted to play our part in supporting HHI to deliver informed recommendations to drive sustainable and improved living standards in Ireland.”
David Gallagher, VELUX GB and Ireland, concluded, “Since our first Healthy Homes Barometer in 2015, our ambition has been to work with accredited research partners to examine how the European building stock can benefit people, society and the planet. What we have learnt here today tallies with the findings of our 2022 barometer. There is no doubt that the pandemic has made us more aware of the role our homes play in our overall health and mental well-being. With one out of three Europeans* affected by an indoor climate hazard, such as damp and mould, noise, cold or poor light, the state of buildings and homes throughout Europe can no longer be ignored. This role is truly important for our lives and one that also has great economic value, even if it is not measured in GDP.”
Healthy Homes Ireland invites individuals or groups from the Irish construction industry that could not make the forum meeting and who wish to contribute on IEQ to email firstname.lastname@example.org
A final report, which is expected to be published in April 2023, will make a series of policy recommendations to the government.