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Irene began her undergraduate degree in Maynooth in 2007 and moved from a general arts degree to specialise in Single Honours Geography in her second year. In 2008 she completed a SPUR summer research internship within the Geography Department at NUIM focused on the development of a new First Year Physical Geography Tutorial Programme. During her undergrad she was also class representative for geography, a member of the staff/student liaison and feedback committees and a member of the Geography Society (2010) and editor of the annual Geography department Journal Milieu (2010).
She received a first class honour for her undergraduate thesis titled "Ireland in Transition: a profile of the Irish Transition Movement", which in examined the geographical distribution of Transition Towns throughout Ireland.
In September 2010 she graduated top of her class with a first class honour and commenced her PhD in the department in October 2010 having received a John and Pat Hume Scholarship.
Geographies of energy, Sustainable consumption, climate change adaptation, governance of energy, GIS.
'Old Home, Cold Home?’ Building Energy Ratings and their application in the Regulation of Environmental Sustainability.
Description of Project:
Climate change mitigation, rising fuel prices, increasing levels of fuel poverty and concerns over future fuel security have highlighted the importance of energy efficiency as a key component of sustainable energy policy. The residential energy sector has been identified as having a large capacity for increases in energy efficiency. This has been operationalised in Ireland through the introduction of a number of grant based retrofit programs over the past decade which yielded a result of approximate 14% of the national stock receiving some form of efficiency upgrade.
A large portion of the two million strong housing stock still require attention in order to meet energy efficiency targets and see an overall reduction in energy consumption within the sector. Area based targeting of this type of policy measure has proven to improve outcomes and increase cost effectiveness for participants and government. However Ireland lacks a sufficient evidence base on which to develop this type of policy approach.
Significant stakeholder engagement with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland has provided a unique catalogue of 330,000 records of energy performance certificates rich with information on key building characteristics on which to develop a geographically focused dataset of a large sample of the national housing stock. For the first time the development of household energy profiles that can be plotted at low geographical scales is possible. Using innovative spatial statistical methods such as geographically weighted regression (GWR) the research will facilitate a new and deeper understanding of the potential explanatory factors for spatial variations in policy outcomes and the energy efficiency of the building envelope across the state.
Framed by the current debates surrounding the appropriate forms of energy governance and the equitable implementation of sustainable environmental policies, the research will provide key insights into the impacts of both regulation and voluntary governance approaches and the unequal distributions of policy outcomes in order to inform the national and international policy community.
Prof. Mark Boyle, Dr. Ronan Foley
John and Pat Hume Scholarship (2010)
Prof T Jones Hughes Prize (2010)
Flooding and Flood Management in Glasgow Milieu, 2009 32nd ed, 89-98
After Peat: A New approach to the discipline of Geography Milieu, 2010 33rd ed, 45-46