Tuesday, 30 May 2000
Dáil Eireann Debate
264. Ms Clune asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government his views on the use of hollow block construction with regard to our commitments under the Kyoto agreement; if his attention has been drawn to the widespread use of such a construction method in the Dublin region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15004/00]
265. Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government if he has satisfied himself that current construction practices such as the use of hollow blocks meet the energy sustainability criteria necessary to meet our Kyoto obligations. [15005/00]
266. Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government his plans, if any, to amend the building regulations or to use other financial instruments such as the first time buyers grant to achieve higher insulation standards; and, if so, if will he signal this in advance in order to allow material manufacturers to change their manufacturing processes accordingly. [15006/00]
My Department lays down no specific standard for construction practices other than that the form of construction used should comply with the building regulations. I am aware that some private developers and builders, mainly in the greater Dublin area, have opted for the use of hollow block construction while others have favoured cavity wall construction.
The building regulations do not place a restriction on the use of any particular method of construction or product, provided the performance requirements of the regulations are met, e.g. in relation to thermal performance and structural stability. It is a matter for building owners, designers and builders to ensure that their build ings comply with the regulations and to select the form of construction and product which best meets their needs in achieving this.
Technical guidance document L, which accompanies the regulations, provides guidance on the thermal performance standards of various elements in buildings, including roofs, walls and so on. For typical construction, the technical guidance document provides guidance on determining the thickness of insulation material required to achieve the standards, taking account of the thermal properties of both the insulation and the basic construction.
My Department has initiated a review of the domestic insulation requirements of technical guidance document L, having regard to Ireland's obligations to limit greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol of 1997. In accordance with standard practice, my Department has consulted the Building Regulations Advisory Body on the proposed review. The BRAB has, in turn, commissioned a technical study by the energy research group, UCD, of the impact of greater insulation levels in new houses on building systems commonly used in Ireland and on indoor air climate. The study is expected to be completed by the end of June 2000. I understand that the outcome of the study will be discussed by the BRAB in July 2000. The Deputy will appreciate that I do not wish to prejudge the outcome at this stage. I will await the results of the study and the subsequent advice of the BRAB on the revision of the relevant technical guidance.
In the context of the preparation of Ireland's national greenhouse gas abatement strategy, a number of options to promote increased energy efficiency in residential accommodation are being examined, including the use of financial instruments. The necessary timeframe required to allow the construction industry to provide for adjustments required, if any, in respect of any measures included in the strategy, will be taken into account in the implementation of the strategy.
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