Season 5, Episode 7: March 2nd, 2022:  Driving construction productivity and sustainability   

Tune into Property Matters on Dublin South FM from 6-7 pm every Tuesday (or catch up via podcast on Spotify, iTunes, etc). Listen back here:–March-2nd–2022-Driving-construction-productivity-and-sustainability-e1f4mu0

Season 5, Episode 7: March 2nd, 2022:  Driving construction productivity and sustainability   

Construction Sector Group 

Driving construction productivity and sustainability  

Property District‘s Carol Tallon and Ecocem‘s Susan McGarry host a panel of industry experts to discuss the ongoing work being carried out by the Construction Sector Group subgroup dealing with sustainability

  1. Karolina Backman – Architect MAA and Research Lead with RKD Architects
  2. Brian Cassidy, Cork City Council
  3. Aisling Kehoe, Design manager with Sisk
  4. Pat Barry, CEO, Irish Green Building Council

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Notes and comments of particular interest

Brian Cassidy: 

“The way we build must change to meet the demands of citizens, this means sustainability, innovation and digitalisation need to be integrated into our building philosophy” 

Productivity in the construction sector has not kept pace with the rest of the industrial sector. There are many reasons for this. Many issues are coming to the fore that demand innovative solutions and digitalisation to ensure that the industry is sustainable into the future. Serving on the group offers the opportunity to explore and develop these solutions.

Cork City Council Initiatives 

  • Energy Efficiency Retrofit Program: 30 year program to bring all social housing up to the B2/Cost optimal standard as defined in the building regulations
  • Interreg North Sea Region Indu-Zero Project: Member of the advisory board. Project aims to develop a factory blueprint to industrialise the retrofitting process through off site construction. Target: 15,000 units per year
  • Interreg Europe INTENSIFY project: Project aims to intensify engagement with citizens to bring about behavioural change that reduces GHG emissions. Cork City Council will establish a HOME Energy Retrofitting Office in Cork City Centre to assist homeowners in the retrofitting decision making process
  • Horizon 2020 UPSTAIRS project: Cork City Council will provide an online platform to guide users through the retrofitting process and assist them in forming energy communities.
  • Horizon 2020 MiniStor Project: project to demonstrate the feasibility of storing heat in the home utilising thermo change materials with a high heat retention capacity.
  • Interreg North West Europe RED-Wolf Project: Project to demonstrate the use of low carbon electricity from the grid to charge electric storage heaters in the home, and a battery for domestic use.
  • Act4ECO: Online platform to demonstrate how citizens can optimise their energy consumption
  • Retrokit: Product developed by Irish company to assist large landlords in determining the selection of properties for retrofitting.
  • Solutions4Renovation: Online tool to guide users through the cost of retrofitting their home

Pat Barry

“I see no way that we can meet Ireland’s climate targets unless the entire construction sector supply chain is radically changed and at great speed. The increase in construction over the next 10 years will entirely blow our carbon  budget unless we figure out how to transform to a low carbon circular approach to construction. We have to build nearly twice as much with half the carbon which means reducing carbon intensity of construction by about 75% in  8 years.” 

  1. Buildinglife preliminary recommendations on reducing whole life carbon in construction
  2. UCD report (referenced in the podcast) with the numbers on embodied carbon and impacts to 2030
  3. IGBC new free Carbon designer tool Ireland which is for professionals and clients to estimate at early design stage the impact of their building.
  4. Further information on whole life carbon

Karolina Backman

“We cannot continue with business as usual if we are to meet the objectives of The Climate Action Plan and Housing for All. We need rapid innovation and supportive mechanisms to mainstream sustainable design and delivery of our built environment.”

Aisling Kehoe

“Sustainability requires reconsideration and reprioritisation of values. We need to place a higher value on our existing building stock – ensuring that it remains in use and efficient in its operation, a higher value on the materials we are using and reducing waste and a higher value on communities, placemaking and people.”   

Sisk Initiatives –

Sisk launched our 2030 roadmap at the end of 2020 and through that strategy development, including a materiality assessment, engaging with our internal and external stakeholders, Sisk was able to define the key material issues to our business. We defined it under 5 key themes that are  

  • Tackling Climate Change & Air Pollution 
  • Caring for the Environment 
  • Enhancing Communities  
  • Leading on Responsible Business Practices  
  • Embracing Innovation and Digital Technology  

We have 21 targets across those themes, including a focus on diversity and inclusion, tree planting, bog rehabilitation, elimination of Single Use Plastics, embedding sustainable procurement principles (ISO 20400 ready) and circular economy principles into our way of working. Then obviously the critical issue of decarbonisation and becoming a carbon neutral company with offsetting by 2030.  

All of our 21 targets across 5 themes are aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals 

Tackling Climate Change & Air Pollution 

Our overall ambition is to be Carbon Neutral, without offsetting by 2030 – Scope 1 and Scope 2.  

There are several initiatives that will help us achieve that, including having a fully electric fleet by 2030, procuring 100% renewable energy – mandating HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil) across projects, utilising solar / hybrid generators and becoming more sophisticated with the use of telematics to monitor and encourage efficient use of energy. Energy Efficiency – Reduce out of hours electricity use (OOH%) from a baseline of 56% towards a target of 20% by 2024. 

  • Our site accommodations at some projects have been designed to incorporate solar power, rainwater harvesting and EV charging. We have also integrated innovative smart controls to minimise power. 
  • Our civils project to upgrade Dunkettle Interchange has been the first project in Ireland to use HVO, reducing diesel emissions by 90%. 
  • We use data analysis to identify key drivers of fuel consumption, set target consumption and monitor over the duration of the hire period

Caring for the Environment 

Sisk has set a target of having zero avoidable waste by 2028 which brings into focus how we address the circular economy. As a business we have already identified the 6 largest waste streams in our business and we know that these waste streams can often be eliminated and reduced through the decisions we make during the design and planning stage of a project and our Sustainability in Pre-Con, Design and Planning procedure specifically considers this. We will also reduce our potable water use intensity by 50% by 2025. We plan to plant 1.7 million trees by 2029 to coincide with Sisk’s 170-year anniversary and planted about 130,000 trees last year, with 16,000 of those near at a project in Europe. We are also currently undertaking a baseline review to ensure we can embed circular economy principles into strategic business planning. We also have a target to eliminate Single Use Plastics from business by 2023  

Leading on Responsible Business Practices  

We continue to develop a proactive carbon reduction strategy with our stakeholders such as clients, suppliers and subcontractors. We are also a signatory of the Irish Green Building Council Environmental Product Declarations Campaign, the aim of which is to ask for Environmental Product Declarations and outline our preference for products with EPD where possible and help drive the demand for better environmental data from manufacturers.

Enhancing communities is about generating lasting and positive impacts for the communities where we work, and the people that we work with.  

We have recently established a partnership with the Social Value portal to enhance our capabilities to measure the impact of the range of social value activity we are undertaking, ranging from local employment, opportunities for people from disadvantaged backgrounds, STEM education engagement, work experience, health and wellbeing initiatives, more local spend and social enterprise engagement. 

We have an EDI Steering group in the business, with someone responsible for leading EDI across the group. We received the Diversity Silver from the Irish Centre of Diversity and are aiming for GOLD by 2023.  

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Tune into Property Matters weekly on Dublin South FM from 6-7 pm every Tuesday (or catch up via podcast for more planning, construction, property and proptech chat.

Listen back here:–March-2nd–2022-Driving-construction-productivity-and-sustainability-e1f4mu0 

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