Wicklow’s social housing scheme achieves highest green home certification

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Tuesday, 9th November: The Irish Green Building Council (IGBC) announced today that it has awarded the Home Performance Index (HPI) Gold Certification to Kilbride Court social housing development in Bray, Co. Wicklow.

Designed by COADY Architects, the Wicklow County Council’s scheme is the first multi-units’ development to be awarded the Home Performance Index Gold Certification. The HPI was developed by the IGBC as the first comprehensive sustainability certification for new Irish homes. The certification goes well beyond the Building Energy Rating (BER) and addresses all the environmental impacts of new homes and encourages home builders to improve the health and wellbeing of occupiers.

Pat Barry, CEO of the Irish Green Building Council (IGBC) said: “This rating highlights the very high sustainability credentials of the development. These homes are not only highly energy efficient. They were also designed with care and tested to verify   their environmental impact across their whole life cycle, which is critical if we are to reach our climate targets.”

New homes built to the current building regulations must reach a minimum Building Energy Rating (BER) of A2. They are energy efficient, but this only tells part of the story. There are emissions associated with all stages of a home life cycle. Emissions associated with the production and transportation of building materials and with the construction of the home (embodied emissions) account for almost 50% of lifetime emissions of a typical home built in Ireland in 2021.

Simon Keogh, Senior Architect at COADY Architects said: “Taking a holistic and whole life approach to the way we design and test our homes is urgent. For this project, we measured the overall environmental impact of the development in a robust way and included metrics, such as embodied carbon and change in ecological value that are still rarely considered. If we don’t measure something, we cannot improve it. Developing high quality data is a critical first step in building more sustainable homes”.

The Life Cycle Assessment involved a calculation of the embodied carbon impact and other environmental impacts across the homes’ life cycle according to EN 15978–2011 standard. To support this assessment, 59 Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) were gathered from product manufacturers and suppliers. An EPD is a standardised report which publishes data about the environmental impacts of a product or material over its lifetime. The homes were also designed to have exemplary levels of water efficiency, meeting the recently published RIAI Climate Target four years ahead of time and just short of the 2030 targets.

Cllr Shay Cullen Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council said: Wicklow County Council is very proud of what has been achieved in Kilbride Court with 42 families now living in these highly energy efficient homes and went on to wish all the residents the best of luck in their new homes.

Frank Curran Chief Executive of Wicklow County Council added:Wicklow County Council is delighted to deliver these forty-two, much needed homes in Bray to the highest quality standard. To achieve the gold category of HPI certification from the IGBC for Kilbride Court demonstrates our commitment to deliver high quality energy efficient homes and to lead by example to tackle climate change in line with Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2021. COADY Architects and their team, along with contractor MDY, are to be complimented on their achievements”.

Further information on the RIAI Climate Challenge Targets is available at https://www.riai.ie/discover-architecture/riai-publications/riai-2030-climate-challenge.