On 17th January, we attended the SEAI (Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland) Public Sector Energy Efficiency National Conference hosted by University College Dublin (UCD) (Fig.1 and 2). Over 300 public sector bodies were in attendance, which made this an incredible opportunity for our team to understand current priorities in Ireland to deliver energy savings. This is driven by the Ireland Energy policy, where business must comply with a 33 % improvement in energy efficiency by 2020. By interacting with energy industry and practitioners, we wanted to understand the needs and challenges when it comes to energy savings.
Comments by John Howlin (Principal Officer, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform) were noted, as addressing the role of innovation and collaboration to create news ways to save energy, and the need to promote inter and intra organizational networks to share best practices and knowledge. Other talks by Marie Donelly (Former director of Renewables, Research and Innovation, Energy Efficiency in the European Commission DG Energy) and Minister Denis Naughton, T.D. (Department of Communication, Climate Action and Environment) echoed the goals and drivers for energy efficiency in Ireland and indeed in Europe.
Breakout sections for 'very large' (e.g. ESB, Irish rail, Dublin Bus), 'large/medium' (e.g. public buildings, ports and navigation sector), and 'Education' (Universities and Institutes of Technology) discussed sector and scale specific challenges. To date, energy consumption reduction has been achieved through the implementation of: LED lighting, PF correction, cost cutting, combined heat and power, HVAC options, vehicle replacement, and installation of building management system to shift off the lights. Some organizations have a budget for building alterations and repairs, installing new heating systems, and changing building architecture to improve use of natural light. One interesting insight was that teams responsible for sustainability and energy savings can take measures to ensure energy savings up to a certain threshold is achieved. After that threshold, they are dependent on investment and more complex alterations on building infrastructure. Full conference programmed can be downloaded here.