IGBC's Better Homes Conference and Green Mortgages

Updated: Jan 13, 2020

Last week, Noel and I attend the Better Homes event put on by the Irish Green Building Council, IGBC. It was a miserable rainy day as Noel and I rode the LUAS all the way to the end at the Docklands. After some tea and breakfast cookies (these were just normal cookies eaten at breakfast time), the event kicked off with Pat Barry, the CEO of the IGBC, unveiling the newest version of the Home Performance Index (HPI). For those of you who haven’t heard of the HPI, it is the only rating system designed in and for Ireland. The Home Performance Index is Ireland’s first national certification system for quality and sustainable residential development. At the moment it is only for new build homes, but the advantage of using a certification system designed in and for Ireland is that everything in it is relatable and attainable. It’s great to see an uptick for an Irish designed certification system.

There were rather interesting presentations about where we are as a society and how things are changing. Such as, according to recent studies, there is evidence that as a society we have reached ‘peak car’, meaning that the need for, desire, and status of car ownership has reached its peak and is declining particularly within the younger generations. The younger generation no longer looks at what kind of car you have as an important status symbol, at the moment the top status spot belongs to the cell phone. Considering the pollution level of transport, the fact that we have reached peak car is a very good thing for the environment. However, in order to truly reduce the reliance and use of cars, there are many other factors that need to be considered and adjusted, such as public transport, urban planning and infrastructure. Which is again, a whole topic to be discussed in itself, but the fact that the general perception and desire for cars has changed is a huge step in the right direction and will allow for an easier time of changing infrastructure. It is very hard to implement new ideas, however good they may be for people overall and the planet, when consumers are against them.

Perhaps one of the most exciting things we learned was about the new Green Mortgage from AIB. AIB is committed to the UN sustainability goals and will be delivering billions in funding for green initiatives. One such initiative is lower interest mortgage for upgrading your home, which is great news for existing homeowners who want to or have done any upgrades, or any potential buyers who want to buy an older home. In a nutshell, if your home has been upgraded to a minimum of a B3 level and you have a minimum of 5 years left on your mortgage, you will be granted a 5-year fixed term interest rate of 2.5%. Everyone wants an energy efficient home, if at the very basic level just so you are warm and aren't paying a small fortune for heat, this program could give you the little incentive that you need. Any AIB mortgage consult should be able to give you more information, or you can reach out to us and we can direct you the right direction. If you have been thinking about doing some renovations on your home and aren’t sure where to start, drop us an email or give us a call and we can get you started and help you avail of any cost saving measures we can.

The conference was closed with Minister Eoghan Murphy T.D. remarking on how much more prominent the conversation of sustainability is today, which is always good to hear from a government official. He remarked on his commitment to sustainability and the Climate Action Plan set forth by the Irish government. Some of the upcoming commitments from his department include implementing nZEB for dwellings and new legislation to provide for Electric Vehicle Recharging Infrastructure. Lack of infrastructure throughout the country is a current barrier to making the switch to electric cars, so it will be exciting to see what this infrastructure will look like. Noel and I are always discussing how we would like our next car to be electric, but the reality is that as renters in a flat in Dublin city, owning an electric car is impossible for the mere fact that there is nowhere to charge it. While to many people there are other barriers to electric car ownership, such as cost, removing a fundamental barrier of electric car use is a very welcome change and will hopefully help to increase the number of electric cars on the road.

The conference was well attended and there we left with lots of useful nuggets, food for thought and inspiration of the changes various organizations are implementing to help to do their part to tackle climate change. There are many changes that can be made, even at a small level, and it is really inspiring to see so many actions be taken throughout the building industry.


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