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The Irish consortium, Build Up Skills Ireland (BUSI), comprises five organisations; Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) – as co-ordinators, Institute of Technology Blanchardstown (ITB) – leading the status quo report, Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) – leading the consultation and roadmap development, Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) – for employee input, and Construction Industry Federation (CIF) – for industry input. A steering committee, comprised of the key national stakeholders in the training and energy sectors, was set up early in the project to guide the work of the consortium. National and regional workshops, interviews and surveys engaging relevant market actors will be undertaken in the consultation phase.
Figure 1.2: BUSI project structure
The BUSI project offers a timely opportunity to address the fundamental changes that are affecting the construction industry in Ireland while supporting the national commitment towards the 2020 energy policy targets. Building Regulations in Ireland have evolved dramatically in the last ten years and are fundamentally changing the approach to the construction of buildings as building designers strive to achieve the increasingly onerous energy performance standards that are being prescribed.
Until recently in Ireland, there has been no coordinated national response towards the continuous assessment of the skills needs of the building workforce in respect of energy utility. Separate initiatives, from agencies such as Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), in response to the Article 14.3 of the RES directive, and FÁS (National Training and Employment Authority) provision of up-skilling courses for construction workers, have attempted to fill the gaps. It is a reasonable conclusion that the skills of practically every construction worker will need to evolve to realise the new targets for building energy performance, i.e. near zero carbon buildings as outlined in the European Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) recast (see 7.2 Identified Skills Needs later). The achievement of increasingly stringent air permeability standard for dwellings, for example, will require collective responsibility onsite from all involved in the construction process.
As a consequence of the boom in the construction industry from the mid-1990s to 2007, Ireland has been left with a surplus building stock. Consequently, it has been forecasted that the rate of new construction in the short to medium-term will be modest. As a result, it is acknowledged that the most significant potential for energy reduction resides with the retrofit of existing buildings. The construction workforce is the keystone to meeting this challenge, as it will be responsible for implementing the increasingly stringent detailing and specification that new designs and regulations will demand.