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Conservation National Low-Carbon roadmapping to 2050 – Scoping paper for the Built Environment Sector

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The IGS Architectural, Conservation and Planning Committee submitted the following response to the Department of the Environment's Scoping Report on Low-Carbon Roadmapping for the Built Environment Sector:

The Irish Georgian Society welcomes this opportunity to comment on the Scoping Paper for the Built Environment Sector on National Low-Carbon Roadmapping to 2050 as part of the early stakeholder engagement consultation currently being held by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government and the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

It is understood that a substantial open consultation process on the draft National Low-Carbon Roadmap is planned for later in 2014.  Given this, the Society will restrict this submission to a brief and general comment on the scope of what might be contained in the draft National Low-Carbon Roadmap.

The Scoping Paper states that ‘The Built Environment for the purposes of policy development can be divided into residential and non-residential buildings and further divided into existing and new buildings’.  However, the document goes on to discuss the policy measures and tools for reducing energy consumption in new and existing buildings without making reference to the energy savings inherent in re-use of existing buildings over the construction of new development.  Specifically, the Society wishes to draw attention to the 2011 publication of the Preservation Green Lab (a part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation), which found that ‘reuse of buildings with an average level of energy performance consistently offers immediate climate-change impact reductions compared to more energy-efficient new construction’.  The document goes on to state that:

Most climate scientists agree that action in the immediate timeframe is crucial to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. Reusing existing buildings can offer an important means of avoiding unnecessary carbon outlays and help communities achieve their carbon reduction goals in the near term’.

Heritage and Ireland’s historic environment is estimated to account for €1.5 billion or 1% of the State’s Gross Value Added (GVA) and some 2% of overall employment (approximately 65,000 employment positions)[1]. It is of crucial importance that the design of any low carbon roadmap for the built environment be evidence-based and take account, not only the special contribution made by architectural heritage to the Irish economy, but also the potential contribution of protecting and preserving the historic building stock to achieving emissions targets.

The Society would welcome the opportunity to meet and discuss the issues outlined above. If we can be of any further assistance to this importance initiative, please not hesitate to contact us.

[1]    Please see the Heritage Council’s 2011 publication Economic Evaluation of the Historic Environment Ireland for further details on the importance of heritage to the Irish economy.