The Energy Minister was speaking during a visit to Northern Ireland’s first certified ‘Passive House’, said to be the world’s leading standard in energy efficient construction. The property, a retirement bungalow in Omagh, has also achieved Zero Carbon status.
Arlene Foster said: “A ‘Passive House’ certification means the building requires very little energy to achieve a comfortable temperature all year round. I have been very impressed by the forward thinking steps taken during construction to make this certification possible.
“As well as saving money, energy efficiency results in a reduction in energy consumption and carbon emissions.
“Fluctuating energy prices both for gas and electricity means that consumers are constantly looking for new ways to cut energy bills to save money. Energy efficiency can make a real difference to things that we all care about. Everyone wants a warm, healthy home and lower energy costs to help balance budgets.”
Irish Building Magazine spoke with William Moffitt, of builders Moffitt and Robinson Construction Ltd, he said: “We initially looked to have a building that would achieve as low a carbon footprint as was possible, while meeting our client’s requirements for a comfortable easily managed home. As we looked in to different ways to make this happen by examining areas where heat could be lost and heat could be saved for example, water harvesting and grey water heat recovery, we realised that it would be possible to achieve zero carbon status and ultimately, Passive House certification. Mr. Moffit went on to say: that he was “delighted with the way it worked out and felt fully supported by his specialist contractors and suppliers.”
“I believe the next challenge facing the building industry will be to successful retrofit existing housing stock to raise the insulation standard and lower the carbon footprint, because most of the houses here today will still be here in 100 years’ time.” William Moffitt, Moffitt and Robinson Construction.
Maire Nawaz, NI Director for the Federation of Master Builders said: “This property demonstrates that builders can construct affordable energy efficient properties. This type of property will provide substantial benefits for their clients with hugely reduced energy bills. Moffitt and Robinson Construction are leading the way with low carbon building and should be commended for their great achievement in building NI’s second only zero carbon house and first passive House.”
Last week the Energy Minister launched the £25million Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, which will provide long term financial support for non-domestic properties wishing to switch from conventional heating to renewable heating solutions, such as biomass; heat pumps and solar thermal.
Whilst currently only available to non-domestic customers the RHI is expected to be extended to the domestic market by Autumn 2013. In the interim, the Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme is open to domestic consumers and provides a grant of up to £3,500 for householders wishing to switch to renewable heating. Since its launch in May 2012, DETI has received over 350 applications and offered grant support in excess of £543,000.
Arlene Foster said: “My Department is committed to seeking ways to support consumers in these times of higher energy prices. The RHI bridges the gap in costs that currently exist between renewables and fossil fuels and therefore will create a new choice for those wishing to better manage their energy bills.”