Barriers to Successful Adaptation of the Built Environment
Research indicates that over 12.6% of the Irish population (600,000 people) are living in poor housing conditions with leaks, damp or rot (Engineers Ireland, 2019). This could jeopardise attempted adaptation actions as well as the health and well being of many citizens facing energy poverty. The State of Ireland 2019 report recognises that immediate actions are required to improve the capacity, condition and connectivity of Ireland's housing stock to stay in line with national climate action targets and improve socio-economic outcomes.
One quarter of all energy used in Ireland is consumed directly by homes; second only to transport, and more than is used by industry. Emissions (over 9 million tonnes CO2 per year) and energy use in homes decreased from 2006-2014 as the economy shrank following a recessionary period. But this trend has been reversed in recent years with energy use in households in 2018 9% higher than in 2014. Increasing house numbers and sizes are counteracting efforts to reduce energy demand through energy efficiency. Whilst new homes are built to very high standards of energy efficiency standards most of Ireland's historic housing stock requires extensive upgrading to improve energy efficiencies (SEAI, 2020).
Beyond climate, there are several additional benefits for Ireland from upgraded homes. Well insulated homes are comfortable, cheaper to run, and provide health benefits. Studies show that increased indoor temperatures also lead to reduced hospital and doctor visits for those with underlying health conditions – reducing pressure on the health-care system (SEAI, 2020).
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