Roger Léron Award 2018 Nominee
Illustration : Gerry WARDELL
Gerry Wardell has played a very active role towards local sustainable energy in Europe over the past 20 years since founding Codema, Dublin’s energy agency, in 1997. His involvement in numerous high-level working groups and the numerous projects delivered by his Codema team is a testament to this. At the local level, he chaired the ‘EcoSoc’ group (Economic and Social Consequences of Climate Change) at the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) in Dublin, between 2007-2008. Before Codema, he was also involved in an environmental and he also went on an expedition to the Arctic to take environmental measurements. Throughout the years, he and his team continue to have a major impact on policy. Other examples include the rolling out of EPC and also Codema’s role in supporting the first district heating projects in Ireland. He is recognised internationally and nationally for his work. His vision is for Dublin to be powered by clean energy, with zero polluting emissions.
Gerry has played a very active role towards local sustainable energy in Europe over the past 20 years since founding Codema, Dublin’s energy agency. His involvement in numerous high-level working groups and the numerous projects delivered by his Codema team is a testament to this. Codema initially served one Dublin local authority, Dublin City Council (DCC) but today works with all four Dublin Local Authorities (DLAs): DCC together with South Dublin (SDCC), Fingal (FCC) and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown (DLRCC) county councils. In Europe for example, Gerry was an active member of the ManagEnergy Reflection Group at DG TREN and acted as Chair in 2003-2004. The Reflection Group was an EU think-tank comprising of local energy and transport actors who advised the commission on European legislation, local initiatives, partnerships and good practice, in order to help identify policy priorities of the EU. The main benefit of the Reflection Group was that locally-relevant community energy and transport legislation and action benefited from the expertise of local actors, and local actors benefited from better-formulated Commission proposals and measures. Gerry was also a member of a technical advisory group for the Covenant of Mayors, which helped create the templates for the initial Baseline Emission Inventories that quantified the amount of CO2 emitted due to energy consumption in the signatory territory. Gerry had a pivotal role in facilitating DCC to become one of the first local authorities to sign up to the Covenant of Mayors Initiative in 2009 and DCC was also one of the first cities in preparing a Sustainable Energy Action Plan. In recent years, Gerry facilitated DCC and SDCC in reinstating their commitment to the new Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy and helped FCC and DLRCC sign up in 2016. At the local level, Gerry chaired the ‘EcoSoc’ group (Economic and Social Consequences of Climate Change) at the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) in Dublin between 2007-2008. The IIEA is Ireland’s leading think-tank on European and international affairs. It is an independent, not-for-profit organisation with charitable status. Its aim is to provide a forum for those with an interest in strategic planning in Irish Foreign and EU policy and to evaluate and disseminate strategic policy options in these areas. He also held the position of EU Officer for the Association of Irish Energy Agencies, keeping the Irish local energy agencies and municipalities abreast of upcoming EU initiatives and directives. Examples of projects implemented by Codema where Gerry had a pivotal role include:
Gerry has been actively involved in the sustainable energy sector for over 20 years. In 1997 he founded Codema as a not-for-profit limited company with a staff of just two. The agency was set up at a time when there was very little interest in energy with much less obligations on municipalities and public bodies than there is today. But Gerry’s passion and commitment to promote and implement sustainable energy actions in Dublin persevered, and Codema grew slowly year on year, building its expertise and capacity. All the while keeping ahead of the curve regarding EU legislation and facilitating its implementation at local level, thereby ensuring Dublin was at the forefront of energy innovation. Codema celebrated its 20-year anniversary last year marking a big milestone in the history of its operations as the energy agency for the Dublin region. Over these past 20 years, Codema has matured and grown into a very successful energy agency with a 13-strong team of engineers, energy planners, communicators and project managers. But Gerry’s commitment to sustainable energy goes back to long before he set up Codema. For example, in the 1990s Gerry co-ran an environmental consultancy with a strong focus on the energy performance of buildings and fuel poverty, mainly historic buildings and social housing. In the 1980s, Gerry was part of a three-man team who went on a 6-month expedition to the Arctic to take local environmental readings and measurements, including, amongst others, solar radiation measurements.
Gerry’s role in the Ballymun Regeneration project had a major impact on improving Irish energy building standards. In the 1960s, over 1,800 apartments were constructed in Ballymun in response to a housing crisis at that time, with little attention given to social amenities and with poor building standards, resulting in a community with many social issues and unhealthy buildings. In the 1990s, the Ballymun Regeneration project began and Gerry was pivotal in developing its energy and environmental policy. The project saw the construction of over 2,000 new homes, with the promise that they would be healthier, more comfortable to live in and cost no more than the previously heavily-subsidised flats. The new homes were built to high energy standards using best practice with known and proven technologies. The new homes exceeded the requirements of the building regulations of the time. Indeed, the Ballymun Regeneration project helped shape the subsequent building regulations in 2002, thereby having a very positive impact and greatly improving the standard of Irish housing. Throughout the years, Gerry and his team continue to have a major impact on policy. For example, Dublin City was the first council to prepare a Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP). Codema then developed Spatial Energy Demand Analyses for the Dublin region, allowing for a more effective, evidence-based energy planning policy and today a regional energy master-plan is currently in the pipework. Other examples include the rolling out of Energy Performance Contracting and also Codema’s role in supporting the first district heating projects in Ireland.
Gerry’s vision is for Dublin to be powered by clean energy, with zero polluting emissions. There will be affordable heat for all citizens in their homes, through excellent insulation and efficient energy from renewable sources. Good mobility will be provided by a public transport infrastructure that is independent of fossil fuels. Electricity will be fully decarbonised and any waste heat from industrial processes will be recycled for heating and cooling commercial and residential buildings. Gerry’s strategic ability to identify opportunities in Europe and translate them into innovative projects at home is critical for the realisation of this vision. He is well networked in Europe and encourages his team to participate in workshops and forums around the EU looking for new approaches and ideas. As a result of this, Codema has been very successful in bringing European projects to Dublin with a local implementation element for the local authorities. Codema has initiated many pilot projects, with the aim of replicating the successful ones across more local authorities. A prime example of this is the IEE EESI 2020 project where Codema facilitated the first local authority energy performance contract in Ireland. This pilot project involving three leisure centres has already achieved energy savings of 38% and €122,000 in its first year. Today there are 4 additional EPC projects in the pipeline across the four Dublin local authorities.
Gerry possesses all the qualities of a great leader; he is always available to advise and support his team and takes a personal interest in all his staff. He actively encourages and motivates staff to pursue their interests and enhance their careers through mentoring and actively encourages continuous professional development. There is no doubt that Codema’s success over the years can be attributed to these leadership qualities. Gerry promotes creativity among his staff and offers advice on how to advance ideas to successful projects, such as the award winning and innovative Home Energy Saving kits (HESKs). The HESK is a toolkit to help householders understand how they use energy in the home which is now available to borrow free of charge from 48 libraries across the country. The scheme has been a huge success and the kits have been used in approximately 700 homes in Dublin by the end of 2017. Gerry leads by example in various aspects of his life such as cycling to work, and even during his ‘down-time’, he is always sustainably-focused by taking eco holidays in locations such as the Pacific island of Tuvalu to learn about the impacts of climate change and the adaptation measures that have been taken on the island. Gerry is recognised internationally and nationally for his work and this is reflected in the fact that he has been a member of numerous high level working groups and committees in the energy sector both at a European and National level.