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Cause and Effect: COVID’s Impact on Construction

Covid-19 has affected many sections of society. Rial John Silada spoke with an architect to see how the pandemic has affected construction. 

A report by Focus Ireland’s February Focus on Homelessness shows that despite a 37 per cent decrease in family homelessness in 2020, adult-only household homelessness has risen by 10 per cent.  

CEO David Caroll of homelessness Charity Depaul has been quoted as saying that the rise in single person homelessness was “particularly worrying” and that “the slight increase in people experiencing homelessness is concerning given the fact that we are still in the midst of Level 5 restrictions. It is imperative that we prevent homelessness at this time.” 

Essential construction projects in social housing that architects like junior architect Lea Duran are involved in are progressing at a time in which additional accommodation is critical in Ireland. 

Duran told The Liberty: “Some projects are still ongoing as they are deemed essential by the Government. Since we are doing residential construction, some of our essential projects include social housing. 

“For some of our other projects that we’re working on, construction has been halted.” 

Constructionnews.ie has reported that “€17.9 billion in project work has been halted in Ireland due to current Covid–19 industry shutdown, with a further €2.7 billion in stoppages in Northern Ireland”.

Junior architect Lea Duran. Photo courtesy of Lea Duran

Additionally, construction for private buildings and private clients has been halted, with only the design phase of these projects being able to continue. 

“Housing is the focus right now,” Duran said.

The junior architect also spoke about new Building Energy Ratings requirements that required new designs to achieve at least an A2 rating as opposed to the current less stringent A3 standard. 

Architects, she said, “try to build our buildings in such a way that it’s a passive house. What that means is a house with no drafts in the window and which no air can get in or out of unless it’s controlled.”  

The policy move was taken as part of an effort to address climate change as such measures could contribute to as much as a 70% reduction in carbon emissions from homes.

However, Duran conceded that such airtight buildings might be seen as “not so good for Covid and airflow.

“Due to the systems we have in place, even though the building is passive and airtight there’s constant flow and circulation of the air.”

Post Covid, Duran said she is confident about the future of residential and business construction – at least for her workplace, Conroy Crowe Kelly Architects.
 
“Our office now hasn’t suffered that much,” she said – the firm remains busy despite the pandemic.

Construction, she said, “helps with the economy and it gets people more work.”

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