Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action

New Retrofitting Plan and the Built Environment: Discussion

Photo of Alice-Mary HigginsAlice-Mary Higgins (Independent) | Oireachtas source

That public-first push allows for the raising of quality standards. Following on from the demolition and materials issue, and Deputy Bruton may even come in on it, around that recycling and reuse of materials piece, clearly one of the things it seems we need, and the witnesses might comment on this, is more public jobs, effectively, in areas of inspection and standards and making sure it is not solely left to contractors but that there is public quality control and skills. This has come up in other areas where we have talked about the need for increasing the capacity of public inspectors.

Another area that strikes me as possibly needing reform is the health and safety standards. This is not to dilute - nobody wants to do that - but to look at whether our health measures and things like that need to be re-examined, and this would not be to remove them but to look for repurposed materials. Many of them are designed on the assumption of new materials. That is maybe at EU level as well as at local level. Is it a case that we need some really concrete research on issues such as reusing steel or things that might not be by-products, as discussed earlier, but are actually high-cost materials in terms of their environmental impact and full cycle?

I remember when I was young, I went around salvage yards all the time finding quarry tiles and that kind of thing. Does that whole area of salvage, which became a very peripheral part of the building piece but was a very central part for years, need to be almost reimagined back into a new era?


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