Briefing on UNECE High-Performance Building Initiative

In 2007, the Irish government implemented a policy limiting the amount of energy used by newly-constructed homes. Working together, the Irish and Belgian governments created the High-Performance Building Initiative, with the goal of reducing the amount of carbon emissions from buildings to nearly zero (under UNECE, this is also called the NZE Initiative). This goal is defined in Ireland’s building codes as 45 kilowatt hours per meter-squared year performance in new dwellings. Since 1991, Ireland has seen a 70% improvement in carbon emissions. Although the increase in cost over the past decade was 8.2% (not adjusted for inflation or new technologies) for newly-constructed homes, it has been absorbed by the housing market and has been made up for by a long-term decrease in utilities’ costs.

Mr. Tom Richard spoke on the significance of reducing carbon emissions, emphasizing the need for change and innovation in what he referred to as ‘building science,’ which extends beyond the structure of the buildings to the systems they use, such as electrical, gas, heating and cooling, with especial consideration to energy expenditure.
Additional presenters spoke on the Passive Housing Network, which has locations in major cities including Brussels, New York, and Wexford, Ireland, with the majority of research on the issue being done at Penn State University. Passive houses emit zero pollutants; yet, these structures are fully-functioning, and are becoming the new standard in Ireland, with other member states and major cities, such as Vancouver following in kind.

Following this meeting, there was an event at City Hall, during which representatives from the Building Energy Exchange and the UNECE signed documents to officially become partners on the high-performance building initiative.

Date: 10 July 10, 2018

Time/Location: 16:00-17:00; UN Secretariat, Room 1523

Speakers: Ms. Olga Algayoreva, UNECE Executive Secretary; Mr. Tom Richard, Director of Environment at Penn State; Mr. Richard Yancey, Director of the NYC Building Exchange; Mr. Michel Wllemacq, Passive Housing Academy; Mr. Tomas O’Leary; Mr. Sean Armstrong, Senior Adviser, Ministry of Housing, Planning and Local Government; Mr. Michael Bennett

Written by: WIT Representative, Genevieve Cickavage


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