A deal which will see Enniscorthy to the absolute forefront of the sustainable energy revolution was officially signed in Wexford County Council headquarters on Thursday.
Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy travelled to Wexford to oversee the signing of a 'memorandum of understanding' by UN Director of Economic Commission for Europe Scott Foster, Chairman of Wexford County Council John Hegarty, Chief Executive of Wexford County Council Tom Enright and Managing Director of nZEBRA (nearly Zero Energy Buildings Resource Agency) Tomas O'Leary.
The deal will see a European Centre of Excellence established on council land at Killagoley which will provide education in High Performance Buildings to students from all over the world and help develop standards that will improve energy efficiency in buildings and dramatically reduce emissions.
The centre in Enniscorthy will join with other centres scheduled to be built in New York and Vancouver and the deal was signed beneath the backdrop of US, Canadian, Irish and United Nations flags.
The design of the proposed Enniscorthy Centre is at an advanced stage and planning permission for the 37,000 sq. ft., structure is expected to be lodged with Wexford County Council in early December. It is hoped construction will commence in early March 2018 and that the Centre will be operational by the end of next year.
While in Wexford Minister Murphy also officially opened Ireland's Inaugural World nZEBRA Forum in Clayton White's Hotel, which was attended by over 200 delegates from both at home and abroad.
The Forum dealt with all aspects of nZEB (nearly Zero Energy Buildings) and the implications for the construction industry after the mandatory introduction of nZEB compliance regulations in 2018 for all public buildings and 2020 for all other forms of construction.
Minister Murphy said it was fitting the Forum was taking place in Wexford, the county where the first nearly Zero Energy Buildings local authority housing scheme was developed.
He described the scheme as an 'exemplar one' which demonstrated the very real quality of life benefits that the mandatory nZEB requirements, which his Department is currently working on, will have for tenants and homeowners.
Minister Murphy pointed out that from December 2020, all new buildings in Ireland and across Europe will require to be nZEB compliant, while new buildings owned and occupied by Public Authorities will be required to achieve this standard by the end of next year.
Affirming that the public sector is required to lead by example in all areas of energy efficiency, the Minister said he was very impressed to see that public authorities like Wexford County Council have decided to be even more proactive and to support nZEB developments well in advance of any legal requirement for them to do so.
The Minister went on to deal with a number of issues including the National Planning Framework, Climate Change and the transition to Electric Vehicles before concluding by saying he was in no doubt that, with the private and public sectors, working together Ireland will achieve a zero carbon future for the generations to come.