Ireland could reduce energy usage 50pc by retrofitting

8 Apr 2011

Ireland could achieve energy savings in its buildings by up to 50pc through a retrofitting strategy that will require little or no capital investment by the Exchequer, energy experts at Siemens predict.

This echoed comments made earlier in the week by the Construction Energy Federation (CIF) that more than €1bn could be saved in energy bills through retrofitting.

“We estimate that over €1bn of energy is used by our buildings, with over 90pc of that energy imported,” Liam Mulligan, head of Mobility and Sustainability said at a smart cities conference yesterday.

“In Dublin, energy consumption of our residential buildings is 350kWh per sq metre, far higher than the 30-city average of 250kWh. During the boom years, a significant number of buildings were built cheaply with little or no consideration for energy efficiency or sustainability.

“Some of them are appalling from an energy perspective.”

In the recent Siemens European Green Cities Index, Dublin specifically is ranked 24th out of 30 European Cities for energy efficiency of our residential buildings.

Siemens believes we should start with our own Government buildings, which would reduce energy costs by €250m annually and significantly reduce the public sector’s carbon footprint.

The only investment required is in the tender costs, as the energy savings are used to cover the costs for retrofitting the buildings. When the cost of the retrofit has been covered, the Exchequer gets all subsequent savings. This could be achieved over a period of five-10 years with a retrofitting programme of our buildings.

The new electricity age

“If we are to move into the new electricity age of energy efficiency and the smart grid, then we need to have smart buildings and smart cities,” Mulligan said.

Globally, buildings on average consume 41pc of all worldwide energy. Twenty per cent of total life-cycle costs arise during the planning and construction of a building and 80pc during its usage (- 50 years).

During usage, 40pc of costs are for energy consumption and 60pc for facility management and maintenance.

Overall, in the Siemens European Green City Index, which measures and rates the environmental performance of 30 leading European cities, Ireland is ranked 21 out of 30.

It takes into account 30 individual indicators per city, touching a wide range of environmental areas, from environmental governance and water consumption, to waste managements and greenhouse gas emissions.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years