“Using green building certification as a ‘carrot’ can have knock on benefits across the industry and can really encourage upskilling”Alice Ryan, IGBC - Irish Green Building Council (Ireland)


The Irish Green Building Council has developed a certification system for new housing called the Home Performance Index (HPI). This encourages architects and developers to design and build more sustainable homes by giving them a badge of approval if they achieve certain sustainability criteria. One of the indicators in HPI is “Water Consumption” which enables water efficiency through the design and specification of water efficient fittings, appliances and recycling systems.

Once upon a time

  • The protagonist:

Simon is an IGBC member from a large architectural practice in Dublin. He is very committed to delivering high quality, sustainable developments. He is a great champion of the HPI certification and was keen to use it for his projects.

  • The situation:

Simon started to use the HPI certification scheme on a new social housing project he was designing in Wicklow. In order to achieve the highest level of points in the Water Consumption indicator the calculated water use of all the specified sanitaryware should be ≤ 80 litres of water usage per person per day.  Simon got in touch with Michael at Sonas Bathrooms, which is Ireland’s largest supplier of sanitaryware. Simon was looking for sanitaryware products that would be able to deliver on the HPI water efficiency targets.

Then one day

Michael had no experience in delivering for a project that was trying to achieve sustainability criteria. He did not know what products to recommend in order to fulfill the criteria of the Water Consumption indicator. Simon worked with Michael outlining the intention of the Water Consumption indicator and how to use the European Unified Water Label calculator. Michael was able to use the calculator to see which products he had in stock would meet the criteria to achieve ≤ 80 l / person / day in order to gain the points that Simon needed. Michael then put together a range of sanitaryware that Simon could choose from which would meet the criteria.

This experience was a very positive one for Michael. He understood that in the future more architects and specifiers would be choosing their sanitaryware based on their efficiency and therefore he went on to arrange training for his staff in understanding the implications of the near zero energy standard (NZEB) for sanitaryware providers.

The moral

What we have seen in Ireland is that green building certification going beyond building regulations can really encourage upskilling. In this specific example, it made a hardware store provider aware of the urgency of upskilling staff. This was something we were able to help him with through BUSLeague.  This story is an example of how using sustainability certification systems as a “carrot” can have positive knock-on effects throughout the industry.

Alice Ryan

Membership & Education Manager, IGBC – Irish Green Building Council (Ireland)

Alice coordinates the IGBC membership and education programmes. In addition, she works on the BUSLeague and DASBE projects. Previously Alice worked in the area of Green Building and Sustainability for more than 8 years organising conferences, events and education programmes.