Dec 3, 2023 | Featured Articles

The unique ‘sponge city’ concept was used to address the risks associated with extreme flooding events by Neil McLean Goring, Ramboll Denmark, pictured with Justyna Banasik from Alianz and Pat Barry, CEO of the Irish Green Building Council, prior to the conference.


The implications of planning on Ireland’s carbon emissions and the importance of building climate-safe homes were discussed at this year’s Irish Green Building Council’s (IGBC) ‘Better Homes’ conference in Dublin, which provided a sneak preview of a document that recommends how to better address emissions caused by the construction of new housing developments.

While Ireland’s carbon emissions continue to increase and with 400,000 homes to be delivered in the next decade, the IGBC gave a sneak peek of a new guidance document for planners at its conference. The document, developed by Construct Innovate in partnership with the Irish Green Building Council and UCD, includes recommendations to better address emissions caused by the construction of new housing developments.

It shows that significant decreases in carbon emissions could be achieved by rethinking the use of carbon-intensive construction materials in our dwellings, and by adopting planning approaches that minimise car-parking, new roads, and infrastructure.

The insights show that greenfield housing developments outside towns and cities can contribute up to 30% more embodied carbon per home than equivalent infill developments that use existing infrastructure. These embodied carbon emissions are generated from the production of construction materials, transport of materials, construction process, maintenance, repair, and demolition of buildings.

The document recommends prioritising housing development on empty or under-utilised lands in existing urban centres and building connected neighbourhoods with minimised parking areas. It states that both planning actions could play a significant role in reducing emissions associated with the built environment.

Pat Barry, CEO of IGBC, told the ‘Better Homes 2023’ conference said that the next decade is critical in the battle against climate change, adding that embodied carbon emissions cannot be retrofitted. Implementing these principles won’t just reduce emissions but will enable delivery of much-needed homes with limited financial and human resources. It also presents a fantastic opportunity to build vibrant communities and to enhance our quality of life.”

Over 150 building professionals, from across the value chain, gathered for Better Homes 2023 in Dublin’s Gibson Hotel on 1 December. In addition to the importance of getting planning right, they heard that homes built today must be climate-proof since the impacts of climate change are partially already irreversible.


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