UN Centre of Excellence designation for Wexford announced at COP 26
UN Centre of Excellence status is announced for the High-Performance Building Alliance (HPBA) based in Enniscorthy, County Wexford.
Minister Darragh O’Brien and Cllr. Barbara Anne Murphy Chairperson of Wexford County Council signed a memorandum of understanding declaring the HPBA as a designated UN Centre of Excellence at the COP 26 climate change conference. The initiative signals Ireland’s commitment to the sustainable and energy-efficient development of buildings in an initiative led by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.
Minister O’Brien stated “he was delighted to sign the UN agreement on behalf of the Irish Government which will see the HPBA Centre of Excellence based at Enniscorthy as a global leader in energy efficiency and in assisting with the retrofitting and building of new homes, reducing carbon emissions while providing warmer homes”. Minister O’Brien added, “I want to commend the leadership of Wexford County Council (WCC) and Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board (WWETB) who worked together to establish the centre of excellence as the first provider of Near Zero Energy Building (NZEB) social housing and the first Education and Training Board to provide NZEB training nationally with over 1,000 people trained to date at the WWETB NZEB Training Centre in Enniscorthy”.
Cllr. Barbara Anne Murphy, Chair of the HPBA, WCC and WWETB addressed the live stream COP 26 climate conference in Glasgow from Ireland’s government buildings and stated that “the High-Performance Building Alliance is determined to be a leader and champion of high-performance energy buildings and to increase knowledge, capacity and demand for low carbon emissions buildings. In particular, she emphasised that “the HPBA will advance innovation and lead in the use of sustainable solutions through collaboration with the Global Network of Centres of Excellence.”
Minister O’Brien hosted the Wexford delegation which also included Minister of State James Browne TD, Paul Kehoe TD advocates of the centre in Enniscorthy along with Tony Larkin Deputy Chief Executive at Wexford County Council and Liz Hore WCC and Kevin Lewis Chief Executive and Michael O’Brien of Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board.
The UN Centre of Excellence at Enniscorthy is already named as a key driver in reducing carbon emissions in the built environment and providing training for the construction industry in the National Development Plan. The UN status now elevates the HPBA to represent not just Ireland but to be a global leader working in collaboration with UN centres from other nations.
The HPBA and Minister O’Brien pledged at COP 26 to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the COP 26 goals. The built environment and construction sector is central to tackling climate change, with buildings consuming as much as 70% of the electricity generated globally and accounting for 40% of Co2 emissions. High-performance buildings are designed to use minimal amounts of energy for heating, cooling, lighting and ventilation with a range of benefits for both the environment and the people who live and work in them.
By providing education and training and other critical resources the centres will support the construction sector to move forward in line with the UN framework guidelines for Energy Efficiency Standards in Buildings.
The WWETB flagship Enniscorthy training centre model funded by SOLAS, is now being rolled out by the Irish government to four other regional centres in order to ensure the industry has trained and skilled staff in working in the delivery of NZEB both new and retrofit.
The Board of the HPBA involves a number of key stakeholders, government departments, state agencies, NGO’s and members of the industry including Tomas O’Leary from Mosart architects, an industry leader in energy-efficient buildings in Ireland.
It is expected in 2022 that WCC and WWETB the funders of the HPBA initiative will host an international event to launch the UN centre in Enniscorthy and to showcase international speakers on how the built environment can address climate change while providing more energy-efficient homes for people.