South West College, Enniskillen, northern Ireland

Remarks by

Barbara-Anne Murphy, CEO of the Enniscorthy Forum

My name is Barbara-Anne Murphy and I am CEO of the Enniscorthy Forum. The Forum was recently established with support from the Irish Government to advance the UN’s 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.

Among its first priorities is to move forward the UN’s high performance buildings’ initiative and its centres of excellence, and I have taken on the role of Acting Director of it in order to set that in motion.

The Irish Government is presently steering through its processes, and we expect the Irish Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien to sign the Letter of Agreement this week formally linking the UNECE, the Enniscorthy Forum and the Irish Government.

Most of us here are frequently asked Why is it so important to get the built environment right? Here are some of the answers I offer:

First, buildings are about quality of life – we are talking about health, affordability, economic and social resilience, water, gender equality, transport – essentially the built environment, and especially buildings, delivers quality of life for people.​

Secondly, buildings are responsible for about 40% of CO2 emissions by virtue of the energy services they require. You cannot decarbonize the atmosphere without decarbonizing buildings.

Thirdly – and this is something we feel acutely now in Ireland – reducing the energy used inbuildings would make a huge contribution to security of supply.

So, for all of these reasons and more, buildings and the built environment really matter. Of all the things we can do to meet the climate challenge AND deliver quality of life, getting the built environment right is the most urgent. It can deliver what we need quickly and at scale.

The Enniscorthy Forum team is just back from a very successful participation in events surrounding the recent Clean Energy Ministerial in Pittsburgh, and I want to report briefly to you on some of the more important outcomes of our work there.

First, we signed Letters of Intent with 4 new centres of excellence last week.
We signed Letters of Intent instead of MoU’s because a new blanket MOU with the UN has not yet been finalised. We will move on to MoU’s as soon as it is. For all practical purposes, though, the new centres are full-fledged members of the HPBI network of centres, and the Forum will provide services accordingly and include them in all of our activities. We are
slated to sign several more letters of intent, first in Ireland, and then in Egypt at COP27.

Second, we announced a joint initiative by Penn State and Carnegie Mellon University to launch a research collaboration on integrating the electrical grids and the built environment through buildings. We can make the greatest progress toward decarbonization by optimizing not just buildings and the grid separately, but by optimizing them as an integrated whole. To discover ways in which that can be done in locations around the world is the mission of
the project.

Third, the network of institutions comprising the HPBI Strategy Group is now set to announce the start of work on the HPBI outcomes on:


  • energy & climate (secure, affordable, and clean energy)
  • resilience (affordability, weather – heat, cold, wind and natural disasters)
  • health (comfort, air pollution, disease)
  • social justice, equity, employment
  • Water (deluge/drought, contamination/sanatation)
  • resources (land use, materials, waste)
  • Mobility
  • technology access (incl. digitalization)
  • systemic effectiveness & technical
  • Their work will support the UN’s “pathways” work to achieve the breakthrough target.
  • The Breakthrough Target has been put forward by France and Morocco to secure the role that buildings must play if we are to meet the 2030 agenda and the Paris Agreement.
  • Fourth and finally, forty members and friends of the HPBI met for a dinner roundtable discussion and, the next morning, for breakout sessions.
  • They are preparing recommendations now for several Task Forces with concrete objectives – on such topics as building innovation, workforce development, communications strategy, and youth and workforce education.
  • At an official CEM Side Event that I moderated in Pittsburgh concerning targets for the upcoming COP27 meeting in Egypt, representatives from Morocco and France made important contributions. The entire event, which was wrapped up by a very effective intervention by the head of UNEP’s energy and climate branch. This event brought home to me that the challenge we face is global and can only be met by global collaboration and cooperation.
  • The Enniscorthy Forum is pleased to be doing our part by providing secretariat support to the high performance buildings initiative. We look forward to strong collaboration among all the communities involved in buildings, including the UN agencies working on buildings and the built environment.

Thank you for your kind attention.