Prof. J Owen Lewis has been appointed as the chair of the Interdepartmental and Industry Timber in Construction Steering group. The group’s main objective is to explore ways to increase the use of timber in construction, including addressing regulatory and standardisation challenges, and maximizing the utilization of home-grown timber. The announcement was made by Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), Senator Pippa Hackett, during the Build with Wood Conference in Avondale, Co. Wicklow.
Prof. Lewis brings a wealth of experience to the role, with a background in senior management and expertise in engineering, sustainability, and architecture. He is a qualified architect, building services engineer, and energy technologist, and has worked professionally in Ireland, England, and Zambia. As the Emeritus Prof. of Architectural Science at University College Dublin (UCD), Prof. Lewis expressed his confidence in the potential of the steering group to achieve its objectives. He emphasized the opportunities for timber to contribute to net-zero goals, particularly in terms of embodied energy and carbon neutrality.
In addition to his role as chair of the Interdepartmental and Industry Timber in Construction Steering group, Prof. Lewis has held various other positions of influence. He was the president of the Royal Dublin Society and chair of the Irish Green Building Council. He also served as the chief executive of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and chair of the Building Regulations Advisory Body (BRAB).
The Build with Wood Conference focused on the theme of “Addressing the Climate and Housing Crisis” and aimed to promote the use of timber in construction. Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, highlighted the increasing popularity of timber buildings across Europe, particularly those constructed using materials like cross-laminated timber. Minister Ryan emphasized the significant opportunities and rewards of sustainable construction in achieving Ireland’s climate targets.
Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, emphasized the government’s commitment to modern methods of construction as part of the Housing for All plan. He believes that utilizing Ireland’s timber resources can help reduce embodied carbon and combat climate change. Minister Hackett echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the importance of sustainable construction and the role that timber can play in achieving climate goals.
The appointment of Prof. J Owen Lewis as chair of the Interdepartmental and Industry Timber in Construction Steering group marks an important step towards increasing the use of timber in construction in Ireland. With his expertise and experience, Prof. Lewis is well-equipped to lead the group in addressing the challenges and opportunities associated with timber construction. The potential benefits of sustainable construction and the utilization of home-grown timber are significant, and this appointment signifies a commitment to achieving Ireland’s climate targets while promoting innovation in the construction industry.