Sunday 22 September 2019

Cheaper to knock down social houses than give energy retrofit

Stock photo: Getty Images
Stock photo: Getty Images

Caroline O'Doherty

Some of Dublin's poorer quality social housing may have to be pulled down and replaced as a cheaper alternative to energy retrofits.

The city's climate action plan aims to turn Dublin into a zero-carbon city, but with 'F' the most common BER rating for its social housing units, some may have to be uprooted rather than upgraded.

"It may be more economic to replace the older buildings," the plan states.

Retrofitting for energy efficiency in civic offices, public sports facilities, community centres and social housing is among more than 200 of the plan's actions which aim to cut greenhouse gases in the city by 40pc in the next 10 years and reduce its reliance on scarce resources.

Details are to be fleshed out in an energy masterplan to be drawn up, but other initiatives considered range from waterless urinals in staff facilities to enhanced flood protection for the city's extensive network of rivers and 52km of coastline.

Flooding is a major concern identified in the plan with sea levels found to have risen faster than expected over the past 15 years, at an average rate of 6mm-7mm per year in the Dublin Bay area.

Erosion, damage to property, salt water contamination of ground water, overflowing of wastewater treatment plants and disruption to transport are anticipated and all are expected to be made worse by the increasing frequency of intense rainfalls.

Better forecasting and warning systems, tighter planning regulations and engineering solutions are all being developed to help reduce the city's vulnerabilities to flooding. Transport is another key focus of the plan which proposes greater pedestrianisation of streets and extended cycle ways to get people out of cars and improve air quality.

City council staff will have bike and car-sharing hubs and businesses will be asked to use 'last mile delivery eco hubs', with trucks stopping at designated delivery centres outside the city centre and couriers bringing goods the last leg of their journey.

The city's 14 council depots are to be replaced by two large purpose-built energy efficient facilities, one on the northside and one on the southside.

The action plan warns that the city is undergoing population growth which leads to greater energy demands, pressure on green space and flood buffers, heavier water use and more effluent.

Owen Keegan, city council chief executive, said: "The actions presented in this plan will guide the city as we prepare for, respond to, and adapt to the impacts of climate change, taking measures to allow us to live with climate change."

Irish Independent

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