Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 26 April 2022
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action
New Retrofitting Plan and the Built Environment: Discussion
Dr. Oliver Kinnane:
I will deal with Senator Higgins's questions first. I absolutely agree that there is a greater necessity for increased State employment to monitor this and to control retrofit and housing development.
On the point of innovation and materials, in our small country we have some very innovative players, particularly in the alternative low-carbon cement industry, who are doing very good work. We also do considerable research in that field. Cement is our home industry almost. It is hard to imagine construction without concrete. Even timber construction requires some level of concrete. Finding a solution to the 5% to 8% global emissions that result from cement is key to mitigating the worst of climate change.
On the salvaging of materials, the European Commission has put considerable money into research projects focused on the idea that materials and buildings should have what we call material passports. If I put 1,000 bricks onto the side of my house, those bricks should have a passport associated with them indicating the construction quality, what type they were and how they were bound together. A plan should also be developed for the end of life or dismantling of those bricks in order that they can be reused in the industry. I do not know what the next step will be to get it implemented after that research.