Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Questions (576)

Joan Burton


576. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has carried out an audit of the number of public buildings that may require retrofitting; the expected cost to the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28293/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Government is committed to ensuring that the public sector continues to play a leadership role in tackling climate change through the achievement of further energy efficiency gains and carbon emissions reductions. The Climate Action Plan sets a target to improve the energy efficiency of public sector buildings by 50%.

The public sector has already made a strong contribution in this regard with the sector improving its energy efficiency by 24% to end 2017. Cumulatively, the energy efficiency improvements achieved by public sector bodies have resulted in an avoided energy spend of more than €1 billion and a carbon emissions saving of over 3.5 million tonnes. The achievements to date result from a combination of improved energy management as well as equipment and building fabric improvements. A combination of approaches will continue to be necessary in the future to meet our targets including targeted energy efficiency investment in the retrofitting of buildings.

My Department is providing leadership and guidance to other Government departments and public sector bodies to help them to achieve their efficiency targets as part of the process of implementing the Public Sector Energy Efficiency Strategy. This includes the SEAI engaging with Public Sector Bodies to assess the range and nature of project opportunities (project pipeline) including building fabric upgrades. This ongoing exercise will help to inform the assessment of the costs to achieve the targets for 2030 and beyond. It is also important to note that the achievement of public sector targets will require initiatives beyond those targeted at the building stock. This would include initiatives relating to public transport fleets, water and waste facilities, public lighting and other energy users across the public sector.

My Department is working with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to avail of expertise under the EU Structural Reform Support Service (SRSS) to inform the development of a comprehensive building upgrade programme for the Public Sector. It is intended that this will incorporate an assessment of the total level of investment required to achieve the 2030 targets and recommendations for the optimal mix of funding options to reach the necessary objectives. This exercise, which is included as an action in the Climate Action Plan, will commence in Q3 this year and report in 2020.

Project Ireland 2040 has made significant funding available in pursuit of our public sector targets. This includes funding of €800 million for public building energy retrofit, along with further funding for school energy retrofits, third level building renovations, and public transport fleet replacement. The potential for this investment to be supported by non-exchequer sources of funding such as Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) will be also be explored as part of the SRSS exercise.