The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan T.D., has announced that funding for housing developers to build more sustainable energy houses, will now require builders to ensure that the units they build are 60% more efficient than the requirement under current building regulations.
The Minister announced the new provision at an event to mark the fifth anniversary of the establishment of Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI).
Speaking at the event, Minister Ryan said - "The last five years have been marked by many ground-breaking initiatives - led by SEI - which give us a good basis for moving ahead. The hallmark of the next five years will be accelerated and intensive delivery of change to ensure a truly sustainable energy future for Ireland."
Under SEI's House of Tomorrow Scheme, developers of groups of housing can currently avail of grant aid if they build units which are 40% more energy efficient than the requirements of current building regulations. New building standards - to be introduced in 2007 - will make these efficiency standards obligatory and the Programme for Government has signalled the Government's intention to review the regulations in 2010 and achieve a 60% efficiency target in further years.
"Today's announcement - that grant aid under the House of Tomorrow Programme will require builders to achieve a minimum additional 60% energy efficiency - is a clear signal to builders that the new Government is intent on ensuring that the highest levels of energy efficiency are maintained in all new building works" - continued the Minister.
The House of Tomorrow Programme has funded the development of over 5,000 energy-efficient new homes to-date - many of which include renewable energy technologies. "Encouraging energy efficiency and the use of renewables in the domestic sector is a cornerstone of Government policies to develop a more sustainable energy economy" - commented Minister Ryan.
In addition to the House of Tomorrow Programme, SEI's Low Income Housing Programme has retrofitted 12,000 houses with energy-efficient features such as insulation, where fuel poverty posed a difficulty for occupants. The Greener Homes domestic grants programme provides grants for individual householders towards the cost of installing renewable heat technologies. Over 16,000 householders have applied for grants to install renewable energy features since the programme was launched in 2006. The scheme is complemented by the Department's €10m Power of One energy efficiency campaign.
"The level of pent-up demand among consumers for renewable solutions and energy efficiency has been vividly illustrated by the success of these schemes and initiatives" - Minister Ryan said - noting that the Programme for Government gives a further commitment to incentivise energy efficiency in the home, through improved attic and wall insulation.
"The Programme for Government is unequivocal in its commitment to securing both long-term energy security and a low carbon future for Ireland. Together with the actions laid out in the Energy Policy Framework, the Programme for Government is the road-map to the new energy future. It is now about implementation - urgently, effectively and consistently" - he concluded.