Ambitious industry leaders set their sights on building a greener future

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Donal Buckley

Some investors and developers are becoming increasingly ambitious in their efforts to build more sustainable energy efficient buildings in order to reduce carbon emissions. Coming well in advance of the recent Extinction Rebellion demonstrations in major cities, the energy efficiency strategies were also discussed at the Irish Green Building Council's annual commercial buildings conference known as The Green Room Conference on April 10.

Property consultants are also responding to carbon concerns, and CBRE has appointed a dedicated global sustainability team which supports its teams in each country to assist clients to improve the sustainability of their buildings.

Aidan Grimes of CBRE told the Irish Independent that one of the steps taken by the property consultancy has been the use of a sustainability app which enables property managers to create solutions to client sustainability needs. The app has 11 key applications for property managers, including apps for conserving energy, conserving water, managing waste, optimising wellness, enhancing biodiversity, travel and access options, controlling pollution and emissions and considering fit-outs.

Part of this trend has seen both landlords and employers encourage wellness programmes such as cycle to work and in line with this CBRE has devised 'Green Travel Plans' to advise occupiers and visitors of options such as public transport, which can generate cost savings and health benefits. It also reduces car parking requirements and transport emissions.

Meanwhile Kevin Nowlan, CEO of Hibernia Reit told the Green Room conference "the first building designed to the nearly Zero Energy Building (nZEB) standard for Hibernia Reit is due for completion in May 2020". Two Cumberland Place, Dublin, will be one of the first nZEB buildings in Ireland.

"We also have a number of large high-profile projects in the pipeline. And, we are striving to go beyond the current requirements for nZEB," Mr Nowlan said.

Pat Barry, CEO of the Irish Green Building Council, said: "The new nZEB standard is a step in the right direction for commercial buildings. But it is not enough to fully decarbonise our built environment.

"There is still too much leeway in the standards for air-conditioned offices. Besides, carbon emissions embodied in the construction of buildings is not regulated at all. These account for 11pc of global emissions."

The nZEB standard came into force in Ireland this year for commercial buildings. But this standard will not be enough to limit climate warming to 1.5 degrees C as per global commitments.

Victoria Burrows, of the World Green Building Council, said that buildings are responsible for an estimated 30pc of global emissions and the council is now driving an international movement to ensure that all buildings are carbon neutral by 2050.

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