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Building Regulations

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 29 April 2021

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Questions (47)

Richard Bruton

Question:

47. Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he has considered the introduction of regulations to promote more sustainable building practices and in particular of regulation governing the use of renewable components, the speciation to allow dismantling on buildings to facilitate reuse and on demolition planning for maximum recovery of materials; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22420/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department has issued design guidelines for sustainable housing which includes recommendations to have due regard for the environmental impact of construction materials. These guidelines “Quality Housing for Sustainable Communities” are available on my Department’s website at the following link. https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/24d9e-quality-housing-for-sustainable-communities-design-guidelines/ 

Under the Climate Action Plan the Office of Public Works is putting in place a roadmap to promote greater use of lower-carbon building material alternatives in construction and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland is carrying out a research and development project to examine life cycle analysis and embedded energy in buildings to compare the use of sustainable materials. 

The review of Regulation (EU) No 305/2011 (known as the Constructions Products Regulations or “the CPR”) was confirmed by the European green deal in December 2019 and the European Commission’s 2nd Circular Economy Action Plan published in March 2020.  In parallel, the European Commission initiated discussion on an implementation plan for a future environmental life cycle assessment framework for construction products, looking at the impacts on the wider environment that occur during the whole life cycle of a construction product. The objective is to identify the strategic issues that need to be addressed with a view to the implementation of Basic Works Requirement 7 ‘Sustainable Use of Natural Resources’ (BWR7) in the context of the current and the future revision to the Construction Products Regulation. 

Ireland will be obliged to follow this harmonised procedure via harmonised technical specifications for construction products, when a consensus of approach emerges. In that regard, it would be counter to harmonisation to develop national rules for matters covered by the Internal Market regulation. 

The value of sustainable building practices is also recognised in the new EU policy framework known as the Renovation Wave – which focuses on the multiple benefits arising from the energy efficient upgrade of homes and buildings more generally.   Ireland welcomes and supports the Renovation Wave initiative and both my Department and the Department of Environment, Climate Action and Communications have provided inputs to help strengthen its impact.

The potential impact that construction has on the environment has been recognised in the National Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy, 2020 published by my colleague the Minister for the Environment, Climate Action and Communications. Actions include a commitment to update guidance on resource management in construction.  To this end, the Environmental Protection Agency has opened a public consultation on updated guidelines which can be accessed at the following link https://www.epa.ie/pubs/consultation/constructionanddemolitionwastemanagementplanguidelines.html.

Furthermore, the Government has published a draft Circular Economy Strategy which sets out what a circular economy is, why Ireland needs to achieve it, and how national policy will develop to support that goal. The draft Strategy is also open for public consultation currently and can be accessed at: https://www.gov.ie/en/consultation/37078-public-consultation-on-the-proposed-publication-of-the-circular-economy-strategy/. 

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