The Irish Green Building Council (IGBC) is calling on the government to take immediate, drastic action on climate change.
The call comes as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) sixth assessment report highlighting that climate change is widespread, rapid, and intensifying was released
According to the 234 scientists who authored the report, strong, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and reaching net-zero CO2 emissions is required to stabilize the climate.
Climate change can be controlled
Reacting to the publication of the report, Pat Barry, CEO of the Irish Green Building Council, said: “It’s clear from the latest IPCC’s report that global surface temperature will continue to increase until at least the mid-century. But the report also shows that by reaching net zero or negative carbon emissions by 2050, climate change can be controlled. The climate we will experience in the future depends on the decisions we take now.
“In practical terms, this means taking rapid and radical actions with immediate impact as we have done during the pandemic. For instance, in the built environment, we must move towards net zero carbon buildings across the full life cycle.”
Nearly Zero Energy Buildings
According to the Irish Green Building Council, Ireland has been a leader in the implementation of the nearly Zero Energy Building (nZEB) standard. New homes built to the current building regulations are energy efficient, but this only tells part of the story. With an estimated half a million homes to be built by 2040, the charity says the conversation needs to move on to the total carbon impact of housing across their full life cycle. These houses must also be built in the most resource-efficient way possible.
“Ireland’s new home construction programme will result in huge ‘embodied carbon’ emissions if we continue to build houses in the way we currently do,” Pat Barry added. “These emissions result from mining, quarrying, transporting and manufacturing building materials, in addition to the construction activities created. These emissions largely happen before the home is even occupied. Homes’ locations impact on transport emissions. Transport is Ireland’s second and fastest-growing source of carbon emissions. The easiest way to tackle these emissions is by getting planning right so that all new homes are in compact, walkable communities where most services can be reached within a 15-minute walk.”
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Sixth Assessment Report
“We need to move to more resource-efficient construction such as making better use of the existing stock and vacant spaces, reducing unnecessary demolition, and discouraging construction of excessively large homes. All of these would result in significant carbon reductions whilst freeing up labour and materials to meet real housing needs,” Pat Barry concluded.