Speech at Retrofit Insulation Masterclass in Athboy


Opening address by Mr. Damien English, T.D.

Minister of State at the Department of the Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government at the Retrofit Insulation Masterclass

on Tuesday, 25 October 2016 at 09:30 a.m. at

Ecological Building Systems, Athboy, County Meath.

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• Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to be here this morning in this
state of the art knowledge centre to address the Retrofit Insulation
Masterclass. I understand the absolute importance of such training
events not just from the perspective of my current role as Minister for Housing and Urban
Renewal but also from the perspective of my previous role as Minister
for Skills, Research and Innovation at the Department of Education.

• At the outset I would like to thank MacCann & Byrne and Ecological
Building Systems for giving me the opportunity to be here with you
today. Recent changes to the Building Control Regulations have put a
strong emphasis on improving the competence and quality of the
construction industry. That is why I fully support today’s event and
other training events such as the Qualibuildconference which I have
also spoken at.

Rebuilding Ireland / Social Housing Retrofitting

• The Government and I have made it our number one priority to resolve
the housing and homelessness crisis and under “Rebuilding Ireland” we
have set out a broadly based and comprehensive set of actions to do
just that.

• A core objective of “Rebuilding Ireland” is delivering quality and
energy efficient housing in a way that meets current needs while
supporting sustainable communities and maximising the contribution of
the built environment to addressing climate change.

• Furthermore under the Social Housing Investment Programme my
Department is providing, via local authorities, funding of up to
€15,000 euro per dwelling for necessary works such as attic and wall
insulation, the replacement of windows and external doors and the
fitting of energy-efficient condensing boilers.

Building Control Framework & Construction Industry Register Ireland

• As you are all aware, we are in the middle of a severe housing
shortage and the delivery of quality housing in a short timeframe and
at an affordable price is critical to meeting the demand for
residential accommodation that has built up in our major urban areas
as the recovery in our economy is sustained and continues to grow.

• To ensure the delivery of quality homes a trained and skilled
workforce is required that can deliver dwellings built to high quality
standards, at scale and in a consistent and repeatable manner at a
reasonable cost.

• The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (or S.I. No. 9 of
2014 as they are known) require greater accountability in relation to
compliance with Building Regulations in the form of statutory
certification of design and construction by registered construction
professionals and builders, lodgement of compliance documentation,
mandatory inspections during construction and validation and
registration of certificates.

• In tandem with the commencement of S.I. No. 9 of 2014, the
Construction Industry Federation established Construction Industry
Register Ireland (or CIRI) as a voluntary register of builders,
contractors and specialist trade persons.

• To date over 800 Building and contracting entities are currently
included on the voluntary CIRI register and my Department will shortly
bring a Memorandum to Government for approval to begin drafting a Bill
to place the CIRI register on a statutory footing.

Climate Change & S.R. 54

• The latest Central Statistics Office (CSO) report on building energy
ratings has advised that “57% of dwellings built since 2010 are “A”
rated.” This is a significant improvement in terms of new dwellings.

• However retrofitting of existing dwellings can make a significant
contribution to meeting climate change targets as 25% of all energy
use occurs in dwellings.

• My Department worked closely with the Department of Communications,
Climate Action and Environment, the Sustainable Energy Authority of
Ireland and the National Standards Authority of Ireland to produce
Standard Recommendation 54 – S.R. 54 – Code of Practice for the Energy
Efficient Retrofit of Dwellings.

• This provides technical guidance on the energy efficient retrofit of
dwellings based on the most recent standards and technical guidance.

• While there are many challenges currently facing the housing sector,
the Government remains fully committed to its climate change and
energy efficiency targets and retrofitting is an important element of
achieving them.

• The delivery of construction skills training programmes such as this
in the area of retrofitting is an important contributor to achieving
our climate change targets and delivering quality housing.

EPBD/NZEB & Major Renovations

• The European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive requires that
all new buildings will be Nearly Zero Energy Buildings by the end of
December 2020 and that new buildings owned and occupied by public
authorities will be nearly zero energy after the end of December 2018.

• The Directive defines a Nearly Zero Energy Building or NZEB as a
building that has a very high energy performance where the nearly zero
or very low amount of energy required should be covered to a very
significant extent by energy from renewable sources including energy
from renewable sources produced on-site or nearby.

• However what is of particular interest from a retrofitting
perspective is that the Directive will also apply to major renovations
where more than 25% of the surface area of the building envelope
undergoes renovation.


• While there are many challenges facing the housing sector, overall
the economy continues to improve and a robust Building Control
Framework is in place to ensure quality and competence in
construction. This new framework has created an increased demand for
training and it is heartening to see how enthusiastic many of you here
today are about improving standards.

• As William Butler Yeats once said “Education is not the filling of a
pail, but the lighting of a fire” and that is why it is important that
training events such as this are organised as they provide an
opportunity for an exchange of views to take place, increase
innovation and highlight best practice in the industry.

• Thank you.

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