From Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine 
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The Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett, today, announced the appointment of Professor J Owen Lewis as Chair of the Interdepartmental and Industry Timber in Construction Steering group. This new group will be tasked with examining conditions to increase the use of timber in construction, assessing regulatory and standardisation challenges to greater use of timber in construction, and maximising the use of home-grown timber. The group will consist of members of industry and Government Departments.
Speaking at the Build with Wood Conference in Avondale, Co Wicklow, Minister Hackett said:
“I am very pleased that Professor J Owen Lewis has agreed to Chair the Timber in Construction Steering group. Owen comes with a wide range of experience in senior management roles and considerable expertise in engineering, sustainability, and architecture. I have every confidence that Owen will bring the dedication and leadership needed to realise the Steering Group’s full potential so that it can deliver on our shared objectives.”
Professor J Owen Lewis added:
“From my professional and academic backgrounds, I have a thorough understanding of the challenges and opportunities relevant to the increased use of timber in construction. I believe we are at a time of extraordinary opportunities for timber to be efficiently used to deliver net zero with a focus on embodied energy and carbon neutrality. I will work with this new group to bring together professionals, government departments and State agencies to examine and propose solutions to how we can increase the use of timber in the Irish construction sector.”
The steering group will bring together key government departments who have important roles in developing the forest resource, the built environment, including innovation and market development. Key to the success of the group will be the input from industry and experts in construction.
Minister Eamon Ryan said:
“I am delighted to see the establishment of this steering group which will examine barriers and opportunities to increase the use of timber in construction. We can see right across Europe a rise in the construction of timber buildings using materials such as cross laminated timber and other innovative products. This group under the direction of Professor Owen Lewis will examine best practice and bring together experts and policy makers to influence how we can build more sustainably. The opportunities and rewards are significant and will make a real difference in reaching our ambitious climate targets.”
Minister Darragh O Brien stated:
“I welcome the appointment of the Chair and the establishment of this important group to support the use of timber in construction. Modern Methods of Construction is a key initiative of the Government’s Housing for All plan to promote a culture of innovation in residential construction to support the delivery of more and better homes. The work of the Timber in Construction Steering Group further supports this initiative. I look forward to my Department’s participation in this group and to seeing the benefits for the construction industry and the public.”
The theme of this year’s Build with Wood Conference – ‘Addressing the Climate and Housing Crisis’ –brings together a wide range of expertise from across industry and Government. The Conference, co-hosted by Coillte and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, follows last year’s successful event and is aimed at increasing the use of timber in construction. The greater use of timber is recognised as providing a significant opportunity for Ireland achieving our national carbon reduction goals.
Minister Hackett stated:
“This forum provides an excellent opportunity for a discussion on sustainable building and to listen to architects and engineers who are already building in wood. This second conference on building with wood provides the continued momentum to make the transformative changes required to build with timber. By utilising modern methods of construction and the expertise of the construction sector already using timber, I believe we have an opportunity to play an important role in using our timber resource, reducing embodied carbon and combatting climate change.”

Notes for Editor
Owen Lewis, Emeritus Professor of Architectural Science, UCD Dublin, is a former President of the philanthropic Royal Dublin Society and chair of the Irish Green Building Council, and part-time Project Technical Director with International Development Ireland Ltd. He was Chief Executive of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland 2009-2012, and chair of the statutory Building Regulations Advisory Body (BRAB) 2002-2008. In 2011 SEAI became the first Irish public or private sector organisation to be awarded SWiFT 3000 certification, providing independent evidence-based confirmation of high standards of corporate governance.
Qualified as an architect, building services engineer, and energy technologist, Owen Lewis has practised professionally in Ireland, England and Zambia. Part-time Director for Innovation and R&D at utility Bord na Mona 2006-2008. Dean of the Faculty of Engineering & Architecture UCD and later Principal of the UCD College of Engineering, Mathematical & Physical Sciences 2001-2006.
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