Dr Ciaran Byrne
Director of National Retrofit, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland
We are unique in Europe in our goal to improve the energy performance of almost a quarter of our housing stock.
Victor Hugo, the 19th-century French poet and novelist once said “nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” Upgrading the energy performance of your home is undoubtedly an idea whose time has come. It’s not a new idea or even a particularly revolutionary one, but what is new and revolutionary is the scale of the ambition.
Approximately 500,000 Irish homes will be upgraded by 2030, and we have already started our journey. We are also leading Europe in building the processes needed to deliver home energy upgrades at scale. There is no roadmap to follow; there is no other country or jurisdiction to copy; Ireland is in the vanguard of this energy revolution in the housing sector.
For every homeowner who comes through SEAI schemes, their home will be more comfortable and less expensive to run, which is very significant in the face of the current energy crisis. The homeowners will also reap multiple health benefits, and the value of their homes will increase. Should they wish, a better energy-performing home can unlock more favourable loan and mortgage rates.
The homeowners will also reap multiple health benefits, and the value of their homes will increase.
Growing construction sector
This revolution also offers a very significant long-term opportunity for Ireland’s construction industry. For those already in the retrofit sector, it presents an opportunity to scale up their businesses to meet the ambition. For those in other parts of the construction industry, it provides an opportunity to pivot into a growing market sector.
One of the key ingredients to building new supply chains is that the market will exist well into the future and will, ideally, grow. There should be sufficient capital in the marketplace to allow it to function. The trajectory of national and international climate policy means there will be a significant market for home energy upgrades for a long time to come. This new market is supported by allocations from the National Development Plan and the Carbon Tax of €8 billion to 2030.
Upgrading 500,000 homes to a BER B2 energy rating by 2030 is not easy. It is an extremely ambitious target, but one we at the SEAI are fully committed to. In the face of the accelerating climate crisis, the time for upgrading the energy performance of your home has come — and for building sector companies to embrace the burgeoning demand.