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Kieran Holohan

Managing Director, Isover Ireland

Fintan Smyth

Building Physics Manager, Isover Ireland

Companies in the construction industry can make a positive difference to the planet by improving the sustainability of their products and manufacturing operations.

These days, companies make big announcements about their commitment to sustainability. “The thing is, the public is a lot more switched-on about this topic now,” says Kieran Holohan, Managing Director of insulation solutions provider, Isover Ireland. “If a business can’t back up its words with actual initiatives, then it won’t count for a whole lot.”

Range of sustainability measures in construction

Holohan says that his company is committed to walking the sustainability walk. “It’s the biggest agenda we have,” he says. “As a provider of construction materials, we have a responsibility to ensure that our products contribute to the sustainability of buildings. So, we’re redesigning our products to make them less carbon-intensive; plus, we’re duty-bound to provide environmental product declarations for all our products, verified by a third party, to help our customers make well-informed choices.”

Isover is busy implementing measures to mitigate its environmental impact. “We’re part of the Saint-Gobain group, which is committed to net zero by 2050,” says Holohan. “We’re investing in our manufacturing plants to reduce their energy consumption. We’ve started our first solar farm installation, which will enable us to generate our own electricity. We’ve switched our company vehicles to electric, and we’re trialling hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) in our trucks.”

The built environment produces more
than 40% of the world’s carbon.

Fintan Smyth

Well-considered sustainability approach

Nevertheless, the construction industry must do more to contribute to a greener and cleaner world, agrees Fintan Smyth, Building Physics Manager, Isover Ireland. “The built environment produces more than 40% of the world’s carbon,” he says.

“That’s a huge figure, so the construction industry has a big role to play — but it’s complicated, and there are no silver bullets. It means taking a considered approach to what’s required in the short, medium and long term to design a low-carbon strategy for building that provides for the needs of communities. It also entails thinking about a range of issues including health and wellbeing, air quality, energy use, construction materials and a construction strategy that can be adaptable to future climate and societal change.”

Putting sustainability at the heart of operations

He insists that companies within the sector must put sustainability at the heart of their operations. “Businesses must take ownership of their actions,” says Smyth. “Within the company, we all work together to ensure there’s no greenwashing going on. It’s crucial to collaborate externally, educate others and encourage them to do more. No one will figure this challenge out on their own, so good collaboration is perhaps the most important.”

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