Developers are being encouraged to build energy efficient, low carbon housing through a new grant scheme designed to help fund their construction.
The Low Carbon Homes Programme will give capital grants for homes that meet certain criteria including maximising solar heat gain and heat recovery, minimising heat loss through insulation and ventilation control, and that use smart metering and other technologies to manage electricity demand.
The eligible housing will also provide heating by using renewable energy technologies, such as solar hot water and pellet fuel stoves, and generate their own electricity through micro wind, hydro power or other approved means. Homes must also have a Building Energy Rating (BER) of A2 or better for each unit.
Grants, which will be administered by Sustainable Energy Ireland, will amount to up to 40 per cent of eligible expenditure in the projects. The scheme has funding of €9 million up to the end of 2011.
There has been an increasing move towards energy efficient housing in recent years. New building regulations adopted in 2007 set out mandatory higher energy efficiency and emissions standards, which were a 40 per cent improvement on the 2005 Building Regulations. There are proposals to increase this figure to 60 per cent in 2010.
Unveiling the scheme, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan, said the recently adopted regulations placed Ireland among the best in Europe in terms of energy efficient new housing.
"However, the threat of climate change and the impacts of rising oil, gas and electricity prices mean that we must aim for the very highest efficiency standards possible, while tackling the carbon emissions from our electricity use in the home," he said.
"These will be houses where energy waste is minimised and where heat is produced and electricity generated on site. This is the housing of the future."