Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte TD delivered an address today at the Construction Industry Federations conference on public procurement at which he highlighted some initiatives by the Government to help the construction sector in Ireland.
Discussing the Government’s Action Plan on Green Public Procurement, ‘Green Tenders’ and reminding the audience that “improving energy efficiency and renewable energy uptake in our building stock are key elements to support us in meeting our energy efficiency targets by 2020”, the Minister added that it is “imperative that we pick up the pace, scale and depth of investment in upgrading existing buildings to support Ireland in reaching those energy efficiency goals”. This the Minister added “will require a cross-government collaborative approach in particular between my Department, the Department of Education and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.”
The Minister went on to note the importance of the correct skills for the construction sector and the need for “professional, fully accredited, targeted training courses to construction workers.” The ‘Building up Skills Ireland’ has conducted an in-depth analysis of the skills gap, “in order to best target energy training for builders across the retrofit area.” This analysis also anticipates that employment and skills demand in renewable technologies and the buildings sectors are set to increase and the employment potential in the renewable energy generation and energy management sectors according to the Minister.
The Government, Minister Rabbitte stated, has invested €250m in Exchequer funding in energy efficiency programmes in the domestic and non-domestic sectors over the past few years, which, he added, leveraged additional spend in the economy of more than €250m.
Better Energy Financing
The Government has also committed to roll out a Better Energy Financing (BEF) scheme for domestic buildings after 2013 which “proposes that the current suite of Exchequer funded grants for energy efficiency measures, excluding the low-income housing retrofit programme, will be replaced by a new financing scheme open to households and commercial operators.” In this regard, the Department has established a project team to design a suitable model under the direction of a Project Board representing key state and industry stakeholders.
Last month the Minister launched the Energy Efficiency Fund which will provide finance to energy efficiency initiatives in the public and private sectors, and called exemplar projects. The Fund will be supported by the creation of a National Energy Performance Contracting Policy Framework, which will standardise energy performance contracting in Ireland. “Work on the Framework is well advanced and I expect the guidance material will be published shortly.”