THE GOVERNMENT’S National Energy Efficiency Plan, laying down “clear and unambiguous targets” for all sectors of the economy is to be published shortly, according to Minister for the Environment John Gormley.
Speaking last night at the presentation of the Irish Architecture Awards 2009, he said the new targets would apply to the public service, residential, commercial and industrial sectors, transport providers and energy suppliers.
The Minister noted that minimum energy performance standards for all homes covered by Part L of the building regulations become fully effective from next Wednesday. These would result in a 40 per cent improvement on the previous (2005) standards.
“A framework for achieving the ultimate goal of a carbon neutral building standard for dwellings by 2013 is nearing completion and will be available for consultation with industry and the wider public in the near future,” he said.
He added “green economy thinking is no hollow aspiration”, but was already happening as a result of Government interventions. For example, he noted that 1,400 small construction firms had registered for Sustainable Energy Ireland’s Greener Homes scheme.
As for architects, the Minister recognised that this was a time of “immense challenge”, saying he believed that a growing focus on quality “must be retained and nurtured” because it was by delivering quality design that the profession would best sustain itself.
In the awards, which were presented by RTÉ broadcaster Ryan Tubridy, Abbeyleix Library in Co Laois by deBlacam and Meagher Architects won the conservation/ restoration category for showing such aplomb in transforming the town’s former market house.
The Best Cultural Building award predictably went to the Wexford Opera House, by OPW Architects in association with Keith Williams, for what the jury described as an “exceptional new home contained within a bold contemporary form that rises theatrically” above the skyline.
Ó Briain Beary Architects won the Best Public Building award for Leixlip Garda station, which the jury’s citation said “defies the constraints traditionally associated with this brief and an unpromising suburban site to create an elegant and resourceful architectural composition”.
A2 Architects won the Best Educational Project award for the French School’s Eurocampus in Clonskeagh, Dublin. The jury was impressed by their “careful and confident architectural gesture without unnecessary deference” to existing buildings on the site.
The Public Choice Award, not surprisingly, went to the redevelopment of Thomond Park in Limerick by Murray O’Laoire and AFL Architects. A President’s Award was presented to Grafton Architects, for the Bocconi University Faculty Building in Milan, transcending every category.