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Energy Sector

Tipperary Energy Agency/ Superhomes Ireland Ltd
Position in the company
Chief Operating Officer
Economical or Societal Sector
Sustainable Energy
The Tipperary Energy Agency and Superhomes Ireland work in the energy sector in Ireland. For the past 5 years we have worked to develop a one stop shop for home energy renovation in Ireland. We are a social enterprise so it is very important that our staff appreciate that what we do is for a wider common good and that technical, financial, social and environmental factors have to be taken into account when developing a solution.
Broadly the TEA addresses a number of SDGS but we do not explicitly advocate them. As our focus is within the energy sector obviously we address the energy and climate SDGs but SDGs in other fields are less relevant. One thing that we should do better is to highlight that we also address SDGs related to poverty and citizens e.g. through our work on fuel poverty and community energy.
Our Superhomes retrofit service means that we work with communities and homeowners across Ireland. We have to make sure that we understand the particular situation of the customer, communicate at both a high level e.g. the CO2 and climate benefits of the retrofit, as well as the micro level – we will use this insulation material here. More and more our clients are interested in low carbon materials and circular economy so our staff have to be educated knowledgeable in this field.

In general when dealing with clients we find that many are confused or have got different messages in relation to sustainable energy. There is so much information available now it is difficult for them to find “impartial” information which they trust. This is our experience in the energy field and we know that it is similar across other fields of sustainable development.

Our staff, in Superhomes in particular, have to understand that the deep retrofit of a house is in itself a complex system. We have to make sure that the energy use is reduced, there is good air tightness, there is appropriate ventilation and the right renewables are added. If we don’t do that properly the system breaks down. When we begin to add in other approaches, circular economy and associated aspects the complexity increases. We also need to communicate the interrelationships between systems to the installers and contractors who carry out the work.

In general, we find that many of our graduates need a considerable period of training before they are equipped with sufficient competencies to engage in more complex aspects. Technically they had individual strengths but these are not always combined with skills in relation to communicate, problem solving and other requirements that we need.

We would like future programmes, including the programme being considered (Higher Diploma in Residential Energy Retrofit) to be holistic and to ensure that management, communication and associated skills are thought and not just the technical skills and knowhow.