Can new innovations in ultra-low energy housing tackle fuel poverty?
This is the question being addressed at the inaugural Passive House Association of Ireland Conference, taking place in Belfast on Friday 10th May. The conference, supported by The Royal Society of Ulster Architects and Kingspan Insulation, has been developed to debate, challenge and address how the industry in NI needs to move forward and embrace new ways of tackling fuel poverty.
The 2016 Northern Ireland House Condition survey showed that 22% of households were living in fuel poverty in Northern Ireland; the private rented sector is the worst affected by fuel poverty with most recent figures at 26.3%; and in 2017-18 there were 1,500 excess winter deaths with 30% attributable to living in a cold home. In addition, 68% of households in Northern Ireland are reliant on home heating oil; an unregulated fuel in terms of price and customer protection.
Panellists and attendees will be privy to the latest research and development in the field, and there will be the opportunity for much lively conversation – with focus given to retrofit and new build housing.
The conference will have an esteemed panel of industry experts leading the discussions which includes: Director of Fuel Poverty Coalition NI, Pat Austin; County Architect for Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown County Council, Andrée Dargan; Dr. Shane Colclough from University of Ulster; Green Party NI Leader, Claire Bailey; Caroline Best Project Architect at the Northern Ireland Housing Executive; Managing Director of Mosart & Passive House Academy, Tomas O’Leary; and Chair of PHAB Group and GP Developments, Garrett Quinn.
The conference keynote speaker will be Housing Development Manager for Exeter City Council, Emma Osmundsen who will be discussing her council’s policy and successes in social housing by implementing low energy, healthy and climate resilient buildings.
Speaking about the upcoming event, Paul McAlister, Chairman of the PHAI, said, “This is a discussion which is long overdue, and we are delighted with the positive response from across the political and civic spectrum to our first ever conference tackling this issue.
“Fuel poverty affects thousands of households in Northern Ireland and decisive action is needed. The main issue is there is a lack of understanding on the benefits of low energy housing and a perception that it is more costly to implement this approach; which is not correct. We believe that this conference marks an important first step in addressing the problem, and we hope that it will motivate our business and community leaders to embrace and be more open to, recognising the potential of ultra-low energy housing.”