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Will Budget 2020 deliver on Retrofitting?

The deep retrofitting pilot is administered by the SEAI and was launched by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment in 2017 with a budget of approximately €21m.   It was announced earlier this month that the pilot had closed to new applications as the allocated funds have all been used.  There was a subsequent rollback on this announcement and the Minister amended the deadline for completion of works for approved applicants.    The confusion around the ongoing funding of the pilot scheme, and the lack of a coherent, scaled up and fully resourced programme to deliver deep retrofitting nationally is alarming in terms of Government’s commitment to meeting our national and international climate and emissions targets.  Many of the key actions outlined in the Climate Action Plan on energy efficiency are based on retrofitting, yet at present all we have to deliver on these actions is a pilot programme for which funding is almost fully drawndown .  Among the actions outlined in the Climate Action Plan based on retrofitting are:

  • The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and SEAI will identify a delivery structure and funding options for an area based residential retrofit programme in early 2020 as part of this Plan.
  • A target of retrofitting 50,000 houses per annum by 2021.
  • An upgrade of the social housing stock to BER B2 for units over 40 years old.
  • A deep energy retrofit programme for pre-2008 schools.

These commitments on retrofitting are welcome, however the actions outlined required resourcing.  Budget 2020 will be a test of Government’s commitment to this area.  

Increasing building energy efficiency through retrofitting is one of the two of the most effective means to increase sustainability and meet international environmental targets (the second being reducing food waste).  The SEAI estimate that €35 billion would be needed over the coming 35 years to make Ireland’s existing housing stock low carbon by 2050.  To this end it is vital that Budget 2020 contains significant resources and a plan for deep retrofitting the housing stock. 

Social Justice Ireland welcomes the progress made in increasing energy efficiency in modern construction.  We propose that Government reduce the timeframe for the deep retrofit of the entire existing housing stock from 35 years to a more ambitious 10 year timeframe, ensuring that we reduce national emissions, meet our energy targets and move to a low carbon future.  We also call for €130m in Budget 2020 to resource a retrofitting programme modelled on the Energiesprong programme in the Netherlands (full details in Budget Choices 2020).    

Budget 2020 must deliver on the national ambition of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.  Failure to do so will have devastating long-term social, environmental and economic consequences.