New housing energy efficiency standards come into force in Ireland

Out-Law News | 01 Nov 2019 | 5:57 pm | 1 min. read

New housing energy efficiency regulations have come into force in Ireland, applicable to both new homes and major renovations of existing property.

The European Union (Energy Performance of Buildings) Regulations came into force on 1 November 2019. They give effect, through amendments to Part L of the Building Regulations, to new EU-level requirements that newly-built homes be nearly zero energy buildings (NZEB).

New homes will typically be required to achieve a minimum Building Energy Rating (BER) of A2 compared to the previous A3 minimum rating. Existing homes undergoing major renovations, defined as at least 25% of the building surface area, are now required to achieve BER B2 or equivalent unless it is not "technically, functionally and economically feasible" to do so.

Louise McQuaid

Senior Associate

Developers and homeowners alike will face increased costs when building new homes and carrying out major renovations.

Real estate law expert Louise McQuaid of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said: "The associated costs of achieving these higher mandatory ratings should be considered in respect of all new developments".

"Developers and homeowners alike will face increased costs when building new homes and carrying out major renovations. Homeowners carrying out major renovations and/or extensions, where more than 25% of the surface area of the property undergoes renovation, will be required under the regulations to meet a B2 rating. All new homes will be required to be nearly zero energy buildings, and have a typical rating of A2," she said.

The regulations are designed to make all new residential dwellings 70% more energy efficient when compared to 2005 performance requirements. This will in part be achieved through improved building airtightness combined with more effective ventilation systems in new builds. In addition, energy used by a NZEB must be from renewable sources "to a very significant extent", including energy from renewable sources produced on site or nearby.

The regulations do not apply to protected structures or where an application for planning permission or approval, or notices related to local authority works, was made on or before 31 October 2019 and substantial work has been completed by 31 October 2020.

The minister for housing, planning and local government may publish technical guidance documents for the purpose of providing guidance with respect to compliance with NZEB and other requirements of the regulations.