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Oireachtas Housing Committee Meeting on Embodied Carbon

The Joint Oireachtas Committee met with representatives from the SEAI on Tuesday, the 5th of April for the first of two meetings on the topic of 'Carbon and Energy in Construction'

Transcript of Francis' contribution:

Buildings are currently responsible for 39% of global energy-related carbon emissions; 28% from operational emissions, that being the energy needed to heat, cool, light and power them, and the remaining 11% from the embodied carbon of materials.

Embodied Carbon emissions come from materials in the following way, initially by extraction, through to manufacture, fabrication, construction, maintenance, end of life disassembly, and it is important to note the material at whatever stage of its life cycle, has to be transported between all of the aforementioned processes which adds to the embodied carbon load.

Ireland lags behind other EU jurisdictions when it comes to reducing our emissions in our built environment.

The Dutch, the Danes, the French, the Fins, the Swedes are in the process of preparing for life-cycle carbon limits or targets; a term that describes targets where operational and embodied emissions are combined.

The UK is also storming ahead with London Energy Transformation Initiative (LETI): a comprehensive protocol which aligns with the Irish Green Building Council’s thinking on how we set targets and procurement methodologies to reduce embodied carbon.

A transition plan is required and the best route from my understanding of the construction procurement system is through clear carbon targets, I would say somewhat akin to the Part L energy conservation regulations which use the BER code.

My questions are:

  • Has the Department engaged with SEAI to begun the process of establishing embodied carbon targets?

  • Would you be aware if Legislatively, these targets be introduced by way of ministerial regulation?

  • You noted SEAI received 440mil euros in budget 22, are you aware how much of this budget is allocated towards embodied carbon research and funding towards pilot projects endeavouring to exercise construction methodologies and materials that reduce embodied carbon?

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