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Minister Damien English's Opening Address at SEAI Energy Show Workshop

Published on Wednesday, 18 Apr 2018
Aire Stáit Damien English TD

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Workshop Title: Overcoming the challenges of NZEB and Major Renovation, in coordination with CIBSE and RIAI

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to be here this morning at the opening workshop of the 2018 SEAI Energy Show hosted by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers and the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland.

These organisations are at the forefront here in Ireland of a wide range of achievements in the area of energy efficiency. My Department is fortunate to work closely with these bodies across a range of initiatives, and it is great to see at first hand the private and public sectors, both nationally and internationally, working so effectively together.

The most recent example of this effective collaboration is the implementation of the EU Energy Performance of Buildings directive.

In Ireland approximately 40% of total energy produced is used in the building sector.  The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive sets ambitious goals for energy efficiency and renewables in buildings by requiring Nearly Zero Energy Building or “NZEB” performance for new buildings from 31st December 2020. In addition the Directive also requires that major renovations to existing buildings are completed to a cost optimal level where feasible. 

In order to meet these commitments, in November 2017 I published an amendment to Part L of the Building Regulations for non-residential buildings, this specifies NZEB performance requirements for new non-residential buildings and Major Renovation requirements for existing buildings. These new performance requirements improve the energy performance in the order of 60% and introduce mandatory renewables on all new non-residential buildings.

These regulations apply to works to new and existing buildings which commence after 1st of January 2019 subject to transition arrangements.  My Department has worked closely with the Department of Education and Skills, the Office of Public Works and Health Services bodies, as well as many Construction Industry bodies including those represented here today, to develop, elaborate and introduce the regulations and guidance.

Last week SEAI published it’s 2018 report – Energy in the Residential Sector. It identified that the residential sector accounts for a quarter of the energy used in Ireland, and is also responsible for a quarter of the energy-related CO2 emissions.  Clearly there is work to be done to improve on these statistics.

Earlier this month I published a further draft amendment to Part L of the Building Regulations for Dwellings and Part F dealing with Ventilation for public consultation. When implemented, these new regulations will improve the energy performance of new dwellings by 70% over 2005 building regulations provisions. Currently 98% of all new dwellings are built to an A3 rated BER standard. The new A2 BER for a typical dwelling will apply to new dwellings which commence construction after 1st of April 2019 subject to transition arrangements.

These regulations will also require that where Major Renovations take place which are greater than 25% of the surface area of the dwelling, the dwelling should achieve a cost optimal performance where feasible. This is equivalent to a B3 rating for a typical dwelling. 

Improving energy efficiency will improve the health and comfort of those living in dwellings, and I want to ensure that whilst we achieve more energy efficient buildings we also build healthy, sustainable and durable buildings suitable for the Irish Climate both today and into the future. Given the significant relationship between ensuring energy efficiency and providing adequate ventilation, I have also published a draft amendment to Part F of the Building Regulations which deals with Ventilation for public consultation. In addition, my Department is also working with Met Eireann to develop design data for buildings to take account of future climatic changes as proposed by the National Adaptation Framework.

These are key actions for the built environment in contributing to Ireland’s National Low Carbon Transition and Mitigation Plan to address Climate Change.

I am confident that they will be implemented and achieve the projected emissions reductions.

They are also beneficial to our economy – creating and protecting jobs. The benefits associated with nearly zero energy homes such as improved levels of comfort, better indoor air quality and reduced energy and heating bills will have a very positive effect on the health and wellbeing of our citizens.

It is estimated that the cumulative improvements to regulations mean that a dwelling built to the 2011 regulations would require 90% less energy than the equivalent dwelling built in 1978 to deliver the same standards of heat, hot water and light. So we have already made enormous progress in this field.

Many of the techniques required to achieve NZEB, such as improved fabric and renewables, have been introduced on a gradual basis into Part L of the Building Regulations since 2007. 

This effectively eases the transition and minimizes the additional cost and effort required, to  achieve NZEB for dwellings.

We have also simplified and expanded the guidance for renewables, moving to a ratio rather than an absolute quantum and provided examples of compliant dwellings to aid understanding throughout the industry and promote cost effective design. 

Finally I hope that you will find this to be a productive and informative session and show. It’s fantastic to see the diverse range of speakers, demonstrations and exhibitors and it really brings home to us all the scale of the sustainable energy sector.