Skip to content

What does it mean to ‘Build Green’?

As the demand for residential construction continues to surge in Ireland, the call for sustainable building practices has never been more urgent. The focus must move to creating spaces that are energy efficient and environmentally friendly, or ‘net positive’. The Irish Green Building Council (IGBC) CEO, Pat Barry, succinctly encapsulated this urgency, stating, “There’s no time for business as usual or for incremental steps. We can deliver sustainable and affordable homes, but we need a revolution in the way we think and act about buildings, infrastructure, and transport – and it needs to start now”.

At the recent Build Green Now conference, industry leaders gathered to discuss the future of sustainable construction. Addressing over 300 delegates, leading French urbanist Sylvain Grisot emphasised the critical role urban design plays in addressing global crises, reminding delegates that the way we build our towns and cities determines the quality of our lives and our ability to keep our home planet liveable. He painted a picture of cities transformed by 2050 into havens of greenery, clean air, and net-zero carbon buildings. 

But, how?

Central to this transformation is the new Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), which promises a green, low-carbon future for Irish buildings. This new EPBD is ambitious and aligns with the IGBC’s goals of maximising sustainability and resource efficiency. Barry further stressed the importance of an agile regulatory system to expedite the approval of innovative low-carbon building materials and systems. A significant aspect of sustainable construction lies in adopting a circular economy. One speaker highlighted the necessity of this transition, pointing out that “ninety per cent of the material inputs into the economy are virgin materials. This is the critical gap that needs to be closed”. Collaboration across the value chain—from investors to developers and contractors—is essential to reduce embodied carbon and promote resource efficiency.

Also, Marie Donnelly, Chair of the Climate Change Advisory Council, delivered closing remarks at the Build Green Now 2024, outlining specific actions required to decarbonise the construction sector. These include reducing emissions from cement production, increasing the use of sustainable timber, and adopting heat pumps and district heating systems.

And, who?

A recurrent challenge within the construction industry is the shortage of skilled workers, which impacts both housing and renewable energy projects. This labour shortage is a global issue, exacerbated by the increasing demand for renewable infrastructure and the competitive market for skilled labour. 

As Ireland faces local elections this week, and general elections over the next year, we need to be clear both as a country and as an industry, what building green actually means and how processes can be put in place by the State to help rather than hinder housing delivery through this transition. 

At a local and a regional level, we would be interested to know what sustainability metrics you are adopting into your development (or redevelopment) projects…

Ian Lawlor
086 3625482

Managing Director 
Lotus Investment Group