Ireland’s Carbon Credits for Construction

According to several news reports over the past week, the Irish Government is expected to sign off on carbon budgets for each industry, including construction, before the Dáil summer recess, which is scheduled for mid-July. 

These carbon credits, per industry, will be the legally binding limits set on total emissions allowable from each sector or industry. The particulars of these credits are much anticipated as they are recognised as key to achieving Ireland’s climate target to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 51 percent by 2030 and for the nation to reach net zero emissions by 2050. 

The carbon budgets were first introduced in 2020 and approved by the Dáil earlier this year to ensure each sector is actively working towards reducing its sectoral emissions, with the view to lowering Ireland’s overall emissions as the country. The idea is that each sector must stay under its allotted credits so that Ireland can hit net zero by 2050. The carbon budget for the period 2021 to 2025 aims to reduce emissions by 4.8 percent per year for five years, while the second budget from 2026 to 2030 will look to increase that annual reduction to 8.3 percent.

The Government’s Climate Action Plan from 2021 already set out different emissions reduction targets for sectors, however, over the past three months, industry representatives have been working with Government departments to fairly set these sectoral emissions ceilings. Environment Minister Eamon Ryan will reportedly put forward the proposed sectoral credits  to the Government in the coming weeks, for sign off next month. The initial credit budgets will cover the period up to the end of 2025. It is understood that the total allowable emissions – across all industries combined – will be 295 million tonnes (Mt). How this total allowable figure is to be allotted across agriculture, electricity, transport, construction and the other industries will be critical for project planning. 

Even before the announcements of these credits, the construction industry was starting to take positive action to tackle carbon emissions. There is an increased focus on carbon tracking with many construction technology, or contech, startups innovating in this space and funding for climate tech globally has increased significantly. In practice, ESG and sustainability are no longer buzzwords, they are vital to the strategic success and longevity for companies in the industry. You can read more about current construction technology trends and opportunities here: https://mckeon.ie/mckeon-group-construction-tech-trends-and-opportunities/ 

The global energy crisis has prioritised renewables and reinforced the need for Ireland, and other countries, to lessen our reliance on fossil fuels. While this has been on the political and environmental agenda for decades, recent actions across Eastern Europe have created a very real sense of urgency that was missing before. The construction industry has shown a readiness and a real willingness to step up to the challenge.

 

Some additional reading for the weekend: 

  • ESG: a game changer for sustainable building?

https://passivehouseplus.ie/blogs/esg-a-game-changer-for-sustainable-building 

 

  1. The property industry has a huge carbon footprint. Here’s how to reduce it: Some buildings should be retrofitted, others torn down https://www.economist.com/leaders/2022/06/16/the-property-industry-has-a-huge-carbon-footprint-heres-how-to-reduce-it 

 

 

About McKeon Group: Established in 1950 by Tom McKeon, McKeon Group remains a family business to this day. ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fit out and building services. The Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact https://mckeon.ie.

McKeon Group: Construction tech trends and opportunities

 

Is McKeon Group actually “a technology company posing as a construction group…”?

 

A few weeks ago, McKeon Group’s Managing Director, Tomás Mac Eoin, represented the Group at the Data Science Foundation International Summit. He was there to share the great work being done by Hereworks, the technology arm of McKeon Group, in the areas of data science, big data and artificial intelligence.  At this event, our MD was challenged by Joan Mulvihill, Digitalisation Lead at Siemens, as to whether McKeon Group is actually a technology company posing as a construction group… It is a fair question to pose in 2022 given our recruitment of Data Scientists and Software Developers, and given our use of Electron Paramagnetic Resonance, or EPR, to detect environmental pollutants, our use of  BIM technologies and enhanced project management systems across all projects, and of course our sector-leading MSI, or Master Systems Integrator, services. What do all of these technologies have in common? Data is the primary resource. 

The scale and breadth of the construction projects undertaken across McKeon Group means we are surrounded by data sources; unlocking this data through innovation and extracting insights is helping our team to deliver better projects, in a better way, contributing to a better built environment for everyone. 

Can we build better? You bet!

We see the construction offering changing. And the pace of this change across the global industry is accelerating in an exciting way. The tech community has become increasingly interested in the built environment through proptech (property technology) and contech (construction technology), which is not surprising. These are industries that have – in the past – been particularly resistant to digital transformation. But this is changing, TechCrunch has been documenting much of this change and recently ran a feature with five of the most-respected construction tech investors, where they analysed this year’s trends and opportunities for construction technologies. 

The investors included Heinrich Gröller, a partner at Speedinvest; Nikitas Koutoupes, Managing Director at Insight Partners; Momei Qu, Managing Director at PSP Growth; Suzanne Fletcher, Venture Partner at Prime Movers Lab; and Sungjoon Cho, General Partner at D20 Capital.

Emerging technologies attracting investment in 2022 include robotics, enhanced data management, automation and immersive technologies, such as augmented reality.

All the investors interviewed referenced the shortage of skilled workers as one of the greatest challenges facing the industry, and the digitisation of the industry. 

Gröller went further to say that tech resistance comes down to the fact that the margins are low and everything is project-based:

It is difficult to find a project manager who is willing to take the risk to implement bleeding-edge tech on their project.”

Koutoupes expressed excitement about how the industry is shifting its mindset from simply digitising workflows to transforming how projects get built using insights, automation and AI:

Every important builder is exploring how these new technologies will drive productivity on the job site.

 

Where are the construction tech opportunities in Q3 2022? 

Koutoupes: “We’re interested in investing across the entire construction lifecycle — from pre-construction tools like scheduling and bidding, to job site tools, including progress tracking and data and analytics to drive efficiency… We’ve seen COVID as a tailwind for the construction tech industry. Due to the pandemic, many contech workers were unable to freely visit their job sites and realized they had less visibility than they’d like into what was happening onsite. For an industry that has historically been averse to tech, feeling this pain point was a real catalyst for adoption.

It is worth reading this feature in full on the TechCrunch website: CLICK HERE

It is clear that construction tech is still at an early stage, with plenty of pain points remaining. For innovators, this means plenty of scope and potential for innovative tools and technologies to address these pain points, not just at construction stage but from pre-design right through the entire lifecycle of a building. The adoption of BIM technologies has shown that the industry is ready to embrace productivity and project-enhancing software, and through Hereworks  pioneering, we know that building owners and occupiers are certainly ready!

 

About McKeon Group: Established in 1950 by Tom McKeon, McKeon Group remains a family business to this day. ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fit out and building services. The Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact https://mckeon.ie.

Technology trends that are dominating facilities management in 2022

 

As we move towards the midyear point, the upheaval of the pandemic has started to abate and our built environment is once again finding itself more occupied. For the construction and real estate industry, demand is increasing and ongoing supply chain issues must be carefully navigated.

Looking ahead, we can see the early stages of emerging trends in proptech, facilities management and construction that will pave the way to safer, purposeful, and more sustainable projects. While the past two years have forecasting difficult, the contributors and editors at Facilitiesnet have their own ideas on where things are heading – you can read the full feature here: https://www.facilitiesnet.com/buildingautomation/article/5-Technology-Trends-That-Will-Dominate-Facility-Management-in-2022–19496)

 

Top FM tech trends 

1. Increased focus on indoor air quality

One key fact that has emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic is that indoor air quality makes a big difference when it comes to fighting viruses. With a growing number of people returning to the workplaces like the office, they will be looking for measures in place to ensure the air they are breathing is clean and safe.

Research by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/ventilation.html) has concluded that poor air management inside our buildings increases the risk of exposure to viruses. The CDC recommendation for facilities managers is to “consult experienced heating, ventilation, and air conditioning professionals” to ensure HVAC systems are rebalanced to increase total airflow and are operating properly.

 

2. Increased adoption of Healthy Building standards

Most recent studies have found that people spend an average of 90 percent of time indoors. With this in mind, the global Healthy Building standards promote physical, psychological, and social health in occupants. With employers and their workers keen to put well-being first, buildings are now being designed with optimum health and human experience in mind.

Certifications such as WELL from the International WELL Building Institute are increasingly recognised and sought out.Therefore, as prospective tenants look for measurably healthy homes and work environments, technology will be a key enabler.

FacilitiesNet suggests that in addition to making buildings attractive to tenants, the Healthy Building standards are also a way to increase the value of property portfolios, with people happy to pay a premium. In fact, a study by the Real Estate Innovation Lab at MIT found that Healthy Buildings will collect on average between 4.4 and 7.7 percent more in rent per square foot than nearby, uncertified properties. Simply put, adoption of these certified standards will therefore likely increase bottom lines.

 

3. Rise of the Master Systems Integrator

The integration of technologies such as IoT devices and sensors into our built environments is happening at an astonishing rate. And while these devices produce an enormous amount of useful data, sifting through and sorting it can be a challenge. As we move forward, we can expect an increased adoption for building owners to lean on advanced management software to transform this data into actionable data. This can then be used to inform building operations and give valuable insights and analytics on factors such as air quality and occupancy. Given the wide range of technologies and suppliers, integration will be key to successful operation.

In 2022, we can expect to see the rise of smart building professionals who can help facilities managers and building operators to integrate the right technology for their goals, such as the MSI experts within McKeon Group. You can read more about the role of the MSI here: https://mckeon.ie/master-systems-integrator/ 

 

4. Sustainability remains important

Keeping costs down and remaining sustainable is also still a priority for building owners and operators. Despite most office spaces remaining largely empty for most of 2020 and 2021, these properties did not really see any savings in energy usage and, therefore, their carbon footprint. This is because most lack intelligent systems to enter lower-usage states or “hibernate” based on occupancy. Learning from this, we can expect to see landlords integrating technologies that sense, report and minimize energy consumption and allow allocation of resources in proportion to the building’s capacity use.

 

5. Workplaces will become more purposeful

Lastly, FacilitiesNet believes since the future of work will likely follow a hybrid model, visiting the office will become a more purposeful affair, with workplaces becoming more meaningful.

With many workplaces experiencing the effects of the Great Resignation, ensuring the physical and mental wellbeing of employees is now a top priority. Part of this will mean ensuring workplaces provide spaces for specific uses and allow collaboration with those working remotely. For future team members, attending the office will mean an opportunity for meaningful and purposeful interactions. This, again, will mean an integration of technology on a fundamental level within these workplaces to help with occupancy challenges and maintain sustainability targets when not in use.

The team of innovators at Hereworks are leading the strategy roll out of smart building technologies that connect and inspire – you can learn more about the Hereworks mission here: https://hereworks.ie 

 

About McKeon Group: Established in 1950 by Tom McKeon, McKeon Group remains a family business to this day. ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fit out and building services. The Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact https://mckeon.ie.

 

McKeon Group: Meet the people behind the projects – Amie Bennett

 

Meet Amie

Amie began her working life in an activity centre while still in school. Attending an all-girls secondary school, Amie and her classmates were guided towards further education options and future careers in teaching, pharmaceuticals, beauty, hairdressing, and other typically female professions. But she knew these were not for her.

As a child, Amie was strongly influenced by her grandfather, who set up his own haulage business, and by her father, who did likewise. She recalls that her father had a concrete truck with a conveyor, and that was about the extent of her knowledge of the construction industry! In fact, it was Amie’s father who pointed her in the direction of a course in Quantity Surveying and Construction Economics. After her leaving  certificate, Amie was accepted onto the Quantity Surveying programme at TUD (formerly DIT), where she was one of only five other girls in a class of 60 – which, unfortunately, is quite reflective of the industry. This imbalance is changing, but perhaps not quickly enough.

Previous projects

In her second year in college, she began an internship with McKeon Group and loved the practical experience on site. While she recognises that as a young woman in the construction industry there are not many people who look like her, once on site, she has learnt that it is all about performance and delivery. And she should know, since joining the McKeon team, Amie has worked on a number of prestigious projects including DCU SALIS – the School of Applied Language and Intercultural Studies at Dublin City University, a bespoke fit out at TII, Parkgate Business Centre in Dublin 8 and a private residential development at Dún na Rí, Swords Road in Malahide, County Dublin.

In recent months Amie, together with other members of the McKeon team, arranged a site visit for local children to one of McKeon Group’s public realm projects on the iconic DCU campus. The idea was to allow the young visitors to experience how a project progresses and to expose them to construction as a possible future career. You can read more about this site visit at https://mckeon.ie/removing-barriers-and-normalising-diversity-is-everyones-business/

Current projects

Amie is currently working with the team on the new  two-storey, 1,300 sqm STEM building at Dundalk Institute of Technology to provide additional teaching and lab spaces for a further 760 science, technology and engineering students. Further project details at https://mckeon.ie/project-update-1300sqm-extension-at-dundalk-institute-of-technology/

Best advice for newcomers to the industry?

Looking ahead, Amie is excited about her career prospects within the industry and is already acquiring the necessary breadth of project experience to become chartered.  When asked about the best career advice she has ever received, Amie leans on the wise words of Room to Improve QS Lisa O’Brien, who advised:

‘Put your energy into being a great QS and everything else will fall into place.’ 

When she is not working, Amie’s passions are fast cars (she’s a Colin McCrae fan) and spending time with her three dogs.

Finally, if you bump into Amie on one of our sites, ask her how the family dogs got their names… it might surprise you!

About McKeon Group: Established in 1950 by Tom McKeon, McKeon Group remains a family business to this day. ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fit out and building services. The Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact https://mckeon.ie.

Removing Barriers and Normalising Diversity is Everyone’s Business

Let’s get real, International Women’s Day can be a tricky event for workplaces…

We want to get onboard with the celebration but the conversation does not feel very nuanced. And this is a feeling shared by both men and women who are fortunate to work in organisations that embrace excellence in all its forms. Diversity is just another expression of that excellence.   

Tokenism around gender equality is not just unacceptable, it is actively being called out. For example, UK organisations that tweeted in celebration of #IWD2022 this week had their original message re-shared, together with the official gender pay gap of the said organisation. The disparity of pay between the genders at some organisations was truly eye-opening (close to 50 percent). The most shocking element was the blatant, disingenuous and cynical hijacking of an important conversation that we know needs to happen. 

Construction, and to a lesser extent engineering, are both industries that have traditionally attracted more men than women. There were many reasons for this going back over the past century and beyond. Frankly, construction was not considered appealing work for men or women, but it was men who came into the industry. The building site of the past bears little resemblance to a contemporary site; modern methods, tools and technologies have transformed the industry. Yet, diversity – not just gender – remains a challenge when it comes to attracting new talent into the industry. This is changing, but the change is slow and needs to be pushed by everyone, not just the State or representative bodies.  

According to the most recent CIF figures, there are over 14,400 women in the construction industry today, which is the highest level since records began. In fact, one in four construction roles created in 2021 were filled by women, which is a huge step forward. Of course, women still make up less than 10 percent of the overall Irish construction workforce so there is a lot more work to be done to highlight future industry opportunities for everyone. 

Removing any remaining barriers for women in engineering and for women in construction is everyone’s business. 

The Construction Industry Federation, or CIF, hosted a superb event this week, featuring some industry heavy-hitters and it was interesting to hear some of the more practical suggestions made by those with decades of experience, watch back: https://vimeo.com/686769708/7e2a3d9584

Engineers Ireland took a more global perspective on how to remove remaining barriers and this is well worth watching:  https://youtu.be/Cf1E1y7FoKE 

Here at McKeon Group, we do things differently. We don’t just talk about innovation, we innovate. We don’t just talk about diversity, we live it, both on and off site.

So for International Women’s Day 2022, we didn’t want to just talk about breaking the bias, which is the theme of this year’s initiative, we wanted to show the next generation what it looks like to #BreaktheBias.

Members of our team arranged a site visit to one of our live project locations for local children, mainly the children of McKeon Group and Hereworks employees. The site visit took place at the Dublin City University, or DCU, campus in North Dublin where, as it happens, the lead architect, the client PM and many of the site team are women.

This civil and landscaping project is phase II of the ‘Restaurant Square’ public realm project on the iconic DCU campus. The scope of works was set out and explained to our special site visitors, including the importance of social amenities, ICT infrastructure, and features like graded ramp access to the new terrace and connections for water bottle fillers. 

Our enthusiastic visitors were kitted out with hi-vis vests, hard hats (and a goody bag, because everyone deserves a little treat!) and then taken on a tour by the site team. We did not have to point out women on site, the children could plainly see them and hopefully learn that there is nothing unusual about this.

The term ‘role model’ can be a loaded one. The day was not about rolling out some of the many women on our team, but rather, allowing the children to see the interconnectivity of a contemporary building site and the important role each valued team member plays, irrespective of what they look like. The aim was simply to normalise diversity by having our inquisitive site visitors experience this for themselves. To us, that is leading by example. More importantly, it is an accurate representation of what we do every day, not just on International Women’s Day. 

The day was a great success and one we hope to repeat. Huge thanks to Cliona Molloy, Amie Bennett and Veronica Lavelle for arranging this fun and inspiring site visit. 

The message is clear. The next generation of talent is watching us right now and we have to get this right. Our own take-away from the day is that the future of the construction industry is in safe, curious, diverse hands!

About McKeon Group: Established in 1950, this year marks the 70th anniversary of McKeon Group, which remains a family business. ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fitout and building services. The Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact https://mckeon.ie 

 

 

Construction Data: Making Projects More Efficient, Greener and Safer

 

In an article by Pinsent Masons, Anne-Mari Friel and Natalie Trainor detail how construction data not only makes construction and engineering projects more efficient, it also makes them less damaging to the environment, creating safer buildings as a result. You can read this article in full here: https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/analysis/construction-data-what-can-be-collected-and-how-it-can-help

 

Typical data sources include:

  • Sensors
  • Wearables
  • Drones
  • GPS
  • Email
  • Financials
  • Design plans
  • Weather data

 

With the aid of these technologies, the construction industry now has at its fingertips a wealth of actionable information that helps contractors to predict and plan the needs of a project.  From estimations, BIM outputs, and digital twins to logistical productivity and financial data, the collective insights these datasets provide are fast becoming indispensable. Making good use of this data also results in improved project management and increased profitability. For modern construction and engineering, data serves as a way to identify and mitigate risks, notice patterns, and avoid costly clashes, oversights or mistakes.

While the benefits of construction data are now well-known, there still exists a challenge in its collection and organisation. From planning and construction to maintenance, the authors argue there is room for a great improvement in the implementation and use of this data. At McKeon Group, we agree with this, and our team is working with project delivery partners to ensure optimum data capture and use.

 

Most data goes unused and unshared

Citing the recent report by the consultancy firm, FMI Corporation, the latest estimates show that most data collected goes largely underutilised. According to the report, only 4 percent of the data collected for use in infrastructure projects is actually used, and just 10 percent of data generated by the construction and engineering industry is organised and structured into a usable form. The report found that one of the key issues is that there is not yet a standardised digital format for the sharing and collation of this data, for example, carbon footprint and safety metrics.

Furthermore, data is not readily shared across the industry, which means that many opportunities for efficiency and cost savings are missed. As it stands, companies and parties who do wish to share data find it difficult to do so, with several technological challenges standing in the way regarding interoperability. As well as a current lack of supportive technology and software, there is also a reluctance to share data for competitive and legal reasons. Some stakeholders feel guarded about the data collected and do not wish to share it with competitors. There is also the issue of collected data being commercially sensitive and the inability to share due to data privacy laws and legal compliance.

For these reasons and reasons of habit and culture, data sharing across the Irish construction industry is not where it needs to be – yet. Growing understanding of the handling and benefits of data will likely motivate organisations to exert greater control over it. Organisations may, perhaps, be more willing to first share operational performance data and inroads may be made from there. It is important, however, for project partners to establish aims and objectives when it comes to data sharing, clarifying limitations, and implementing good data management.

 

Benefits of sharing data

Though data sharing is not without its challenges, making such information better available is not only good for project management and maintenance but also good for the communities and environments affected. The value of this data is still being articulated, with the full ramifications yet to be understood. Nevertheless, construction data is already instrumental in achieving net-zero plus carbon-neutral goals in Irish construction and elsewhere.

Carbon emissions data, for example, is particularly useful in assisting stakeholders in setting targets. Sharing this data throughout the supply chain with a standardised metric will result in a greener industry. Safety data, too, will help complex buildings meet requirements, with information continuing to be shared over construction lifetime, thus assisting in future plans. The sharing of operational data will result in a decrease in accidents thanks to the ability to monitor risk and observe patterns. It can also lead to efficiency measures being implemented. Bringing this together will require well-managed datasets, including the use of digital twins. This will mean that once data-sharing issues are overcome, the information can be implemented and used reliably.

 In the pursuit of bettering the industry and helpfulness, however, the authors caution against over-sharing and putting organisations at avoidable risk. These risks include the violation of third-party data consent laws as well as paying special attention to the exclusive rights of data collected by the providers of specific technology. There may also be some issues with competition and privacy laws that prevent the free sharing of data between parties without prior approval.

 

About McKeon Group:

Established in 1950, this year marks the 70th anniversary of McKeon Group, which remains a family business. ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fitout and building services. The Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact McKeon.ie

 

Social Value and Community Wellbeing

Through innovating the built environment

Earlier this week, the Construction Sector Group, or CSG, for ‘Innovation and Digital Adoption’ published its Sustainability Consultation Group Report.  The scope of the report was to outline the key research areas for disruptive and scalable innovation in sustainability, carbon reduction and climate action across Ireland’s construction industry, with a focus on supporting increased construction activity. In the course of research, 100 of the industry’s key stakeholders were surveyed under the themes of Decarbonisation, Circular Built Environment, Climate Change Resilience, and Social Value & Community Wellbeing. The outcome of this survey influenced the initial proposals for research and innovation projects.

 

Given Ireland’s current housing crisis and the persistent societal challenges faced, a key area of focus for the CSG is built environment innovation that will ensure social value and  community wellbeing. Initial proposals aim to protect human health and wellbeing, while  supporting local economies and increasing community engagement.

 

Under this theme, the majority of people surveyed believe that smart mobility and multifunctional or adaptable streets are the most important innovation required. The financial value of vegetation, placemaking and urban design was also seen as a key priority, along with the digital mapping of air pollution, identification of sources and mitigation initiatives.

 

Specific proposals for research and innovation include social and environmental post-occupancy evaluation methodology for public buildings and projects. This entails researching suitable POE methodologies that will capture the social and environmental performance of all public buildings and projects, both existing and newly built assets. It is intended that the data be collated and used as ‘lessons learned’ for future projects. Currently, POE in public buildings is only conducted for operational energy. According to the report, there is a need to put in place a system for capturing the in-use performance of these projects and their contribution to community health and well-being, in the context of Ireland 2040 and Housing for All ambitions.

 

Another specific proposal involves researching successful models for community driven planning processes. This will involve a review of local and international best practice examples of community driven planning processes and then the possible creation of digital tools for better communication and participation, and for implementation of a plan for enhanced community participation with local authorities. It was acknowledged by the report that digitalisation opens up an opportunity for greater community engagement in planning, with many international cities now using digital models to test scenarios and proposed developments with input from residents.

 

Encouraging biodiversity across the built environment is another proposed area of research and innovation. This might involve the introduction of a ‘green area ratio’ for proposed developments. A health/cost benefit analysis of increased biodiversity in Irish towns and cities is encouraged. The report concludes that introducing a green area ratio requirement into Irish planning would encourage healthier and more resilient communities.

 

We look forward to seeing how these important industry research projects progress and to contributing through our in-house Innovation Boost team.

 

 

 

About McKeon Group:

Established in 1950, this year marks the 70th anniversary of McKeon Group, which remains a family business. ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fitout and building services. The Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact McKeon.ie

 

The Future Skills Required by Engineers

In a recent Business Post feature, Engineers Ireland explored the future of the sector and, specifically, posited what skills engineers will need to develop over the next decade. 

Future in-demand skills will need to align with the green future aspirations for the built environment and the role it must play in decarbonisation globally. In dealing with climate change, Engineers Ireland expresses the need for “creative, flexible, holistic engineering solutions in almost every area”, and emphasises that the sector is already “in the fray” when it comes to upskilling. 

In the above Business Post article, titled ‘Engineers step up to the mark to ensure green future’, business development director of Geoscience Ireland, Sean Finlay, warns that guaranteeing future energy supply is an immediate priority and that this is fundamental to Ireland’s continued economic growth. He goes further to say that failure to do so could jeopardise the State’s ability to successfully attract and retain foreign direct investment, or FDI. 

While the government is committed to a move away from fossil fuels, and is broadly in favour of developing the potential of offshore wind energy, “we do face a gap. We are not going to be able to fully rely on renewables for some time”.

As with offshore wind, the potential of geothermal energy is immense, however, it requires a proper regulatory framework. A Geothermal Bill was drafted more than a decade ago and this is apparently being “revisited” by the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications under energy minister Eamon Ryan.

Government has highlighted renewable energy, electric grid infrastructure, public transport, electric vehicles and home energy retrofitting as priorities, and, as a profession, engineers are at the forefront of developing solutions to the climate emergency.

According to PJ Ryan, convenor of the ACEI Sustainability Committee, “Engineers have already developed new e-mobility solutions for transport which will be the ‘new normal’ in 2030. They will work to develop new solutions to decarbonise the gas grid with the injection of biogas and green hydrogen. Research groups will develop carbon capture and storage and renewable technologies. Energy storage will be crucial for the electricity grid in addition to designing a more resilient and adapted ‘smart grid’, which is harmonised to balance the demands of heat pumps and electric vehicle charging. Another important aspect will be matching energy demand with renewable energy production on an hourly basis in order that energy consumption can be truly carbon free”.

Earlier this year the Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland, or ACEI, launched its new Sustainability Vision and ACEI members are currently designing energy solutions to help reduce carbon emissions from our homes and environment. 

Speaking about the future skills required by engineers, registrar at Engineers Ireland, Damien Owens, explained that engineers already contribute to the development of infrastructure, including energy infrastructure from preliminary concepts, pre-planning and design, scope and design, right through to project management, inspection and certification, health and safety supervision, and much more. He went on to say that “Engineers Ireland recognises, and will respond to, the clear call for new and innovative engineering solutions”, which will be achieved through third-level education that is responsive to current challenges, while preparing for longer-term transitions. 

“A ready supply of engineers will be crucial for the delivery of the revised National Development Plan and the government’s climate ambitions.”

Significantly, Engineers Ireland asked leaders and academics ‘Over the next ten years, what skills will engineers need to develop?’. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the main areas highlighted were digitalisation (BIM, data management and analytics, programming, AR/VR, AI, IoT) and sustainability (environmental impact, energy efficiency, green construction, renewable energy). Most importantly, it was acknowledged that in a changing world, engineers will need to become “highly flexible lifelong learners”. 

 

About McKeon Group:

Established in 1950, this year marks the 70th anniversary of McKeon Group, which remains a family business. ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fitout and building services. The Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact McKeon.ie

Workplace Ventilation (Covid-19) Bill 2021: First Stage

Earlier this week Paul Murphy, TD for Dublin South-West and member of the People Before Profit-Solidarity party, put forward the Workplace Ventilation (Covid-19) Bill.

At first stage, the Bill proposes to amend the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 to provide for a definition of fresh air based on CO2 levels in the workplace as an emergency Covid-19 prevention measure. Also, the Bill proposes to provide for health and safety inspectors to take CO2 measurements and issue improvement or prohibition notices, as appropriate. If it progresses to legislation, which is likely, employees will be empowered to request workplace inspections.

Essentially, the Workplace Ventilation Bill is designed to ensure all employees have access to fresh air at work, and it puts the onus on employers to ensure that there is proper ventilation. 

Deputy Murphy emphasised that the need for proper ventilation is not just in response to Covid-19, although the pandemic clearly opened a public dialogue on the issue. 

The reality is that many studies over the past decade and longer have found that poorly ventilated workplaces not only expose workers to many viruses and illnesses, poor air quality can also lead to lack of concentration, headaches and fatigue. In fact, a recent Harvard study quantified this productivity loss in economic terms to show building occupiers the financial return on investment for improving indoor air quality (on the basis that science alone did not appear to be compelling for businesses, which is far from ideal!).  

The above Bill sets clear limits for CO2 levels in the air. Employers must monitor indoor air quality and take action to improve ventilation when limits are reached, or indeed breached. Employers who fail to do so face prohibition notices and other penalties under the new proposals. 

According to the Bill sponsor, the past 18 months have highlighted consistently poor ventilation in schools, offices, bars and restaurants right across the country and this is no longer acceptable. Fears have been further heightened as people prepare to return to workplaces and as we face into the winter months. 

When you know better, you do better. 

The Bill, in its current form, sets two limits on CO2 levels above 900 parts per million. If the latter is exceeded, HSA would issue an improvement notice, which gives the company involved 24 hours to improve the situation. If, however, the levels are above 1,500 and present an immediate danger to people, then a prohibition order would be issued until the levels can be addressed. The Bill also allows for the rare cases where CO2 levels may be above 900 parts per million but other air filtration measures such as HEPA filters would be in place, which would make it relatively safe. 

According to Deputy Murphy: 

“CO2 monitoring effectively acts as a very useful proxy for air quality and ventilation in general. If one has proper ventilation, one’s CO2 levels will be relatively low and viruses such as Covid cannot build up in the air. That is why it is used as the relevant proxy. We need to pass this legislation. It is vital for workers’ health and safety…”

The Department of the Taoiseach confirmed that the Bill is not being opposed. 

 

About McKeon Group:

Established in 1950, this year marks the 70th anniversary of McKeon Group, which remains a family business. ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fitout and building services. The Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact McKeon.ie 

 

Fit Out Awards 2021: Shortlist Announcement

 

 

Fit Out Awards 2021: Shortlist Announcement

Public Sector Fit Out Project of the Year – Woodlock Hall

 

Woodlock Hall

The team at McKeon Group are delighted to be named on the shortlist for ‘Public Sector Fit Out’ project of the year in the Fit Out Awards 2021 for the delivery of a new library at the iconic Woodlock Hall, which is part of historical All Hallows Campus of Dublin City University in Drumcondra. This magnificent library, when filled, will host the renowned 140,000-volume Milltown Park library collection, which was transferred by the Jesuit Province to Dublin City University in recent years.  

You can read more about this project and view the photo gallery here: https://mckeon.ie/delivery-of-new-library-at-woodlock-hall-all-hallows/ 

About the Fit Out Awards 

Launched in 2012, the annual Fit Out Awards recognise and celebrate excellence in this specialist sector. Ireland-based fit out teams have a well-deserved reputation for world-class design and delivery, the team at McKeon welcome the opportunity to showcase our work and celebrate the sector. While the pandemic forced the celebrations online last year, the Awards Gala events have been social highlights for the industry in years past and we look forward to a hybrid coming together of the sector next month on the 24th.

Best of luck to all of our industry peers shortlisted in the https://www.fitoutawards.ie 2021, particularly those peers nominated alongside McKeon Group’s Woodlock Hall project in the Public Sector Fit Out category:

 

 – Dublin Airport Central

 – New RSA Offices, 15 Main Street, Loughrea

 – St. Colman’s Community College, Midleton, Cork

 – Woodlock Hall

 

 Best of luck to all the great fit out teams involved!

 

 

About McKeon Group:

Established in 1950, this year marks the 70th anniversary of McKeon Group, which remains a family business. ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fitout and building services. The Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact McKeon.ie