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Future of Infrastructure 2022

Infrastructure that lasts a hundred years will yield more benefits

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Paul Sheridan

Director of Main Contracting, Construction Industry Federation

By constructing the right infrastructure, in the right way and place, we create the type of Irish society we need — with a progressive economy to support it.

Infrastructure will be critical to Housing For All, the Climate Action Plan, better communities and commercial and economic growth. Our homes need environmentally sustainable communities. Communities also need connectivity, water, sewage, energy, schools, businesses and healthcare. The National Development Plan sets out the key infrastructure required to support the delivery of these vital resources.

Forward-thinking construction

The construction industry acknowledges its role in the reduction of carbon emissions and that the construction phase can lead to increases in carbon in the short term. However, construction companies offer a unique solution — in which the life-cycle emissions of many projects like greenways, net zero buildings, water, roads and public transport provide long-term, sustainable benefits.

We must consider the whole lifecycle-costing of our constructed environment.

The National Investment Framework for Transport in Ireland, published by Minister Ryan’s Department, states that one of its priorities is enhanced regional and rural connectivity. It includes roads as an important element of connecting rural communities, supporting the movement of freight and the international connectivity of our ports for people, goods, services and tourism.

We need to think long-term and avoid a narrow focus on the construction period that may last two years when the constructed asset could last more than 100 years. Getting the most sustainable benefits out of the other 98 years is the priority. We must consider the whole lifecycle-costing of our constructed environment.

Connecting communities and industries

Construction companies have a pivotal role in the delivery of the National Development Plan. By delivering the built environment, they help connect communities and support our way of life. They are an engine of Ireland’s economy and underpin business activity across other industries like high-tech manufacturing, pharma, ICT and commercial services. They construct key infrastructures like schools, offices, water plants, energy generation, bridges, active travel greenways, bus corridors, tourist attractions and cultural and sporting centres.

A healthy and sustainable construction industry can support the National Development Plan. The Construction Industry Federation believes this is achievable if the Government continues to develop a clear pipeline of construction-ready work, a pragmatic and proportionate approach to procurement strategy and a partnership approach with equitable risk management and alignment — with standard forms of international contracts like the NEC. That way, we construct the right infrastructure, in the right way and the right places.

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