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All buildings being constructed, sold or rented in Ireland will soon require a Bulding Energy Rating, but the measurement system used in Ireland is not accurate.
When EU research indicated that almost half the energy related CO2 emissions derive from energy use in buildings, which could be reduced by as much as 22 per cent through improved energy efficiency, it issued the Energy Performance Building Directive (EPBD).
EPBD aims to improve energy performance in residential and non-residential buildings, both new and existing. The EPBD requires specific forms of information and advice on energy to be provided to the building purchaser, tenants and users.
BER (Building Energy Rating) is a standard calculation of the energy performance of a building, produced by a qualified assessor using procedures including calculation method and software approved by SEI. It also includes a survey of the building where required by direction of Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI).
BER will make the energy performance characteristics of the building transparent to prospective buyers and tenants.
One of these problems in this building energy rating system is thermal bridging, which is heat loss at critical points such as joints. This is a recognised problem which SEI say is accounted for in the assessment procedure.
Thermal Looping is a problem that occurs when air flows between the concrete block of a wall and the insulation. It is estimated that once a 2mm tolerance between these layers is exceeded, there is significant heat loss. SEI says that it is difficult to be definitive in taking account of this phenomenon and calculate heat loss attributable to thermal looping.
Another concern is non-breathable plastics problems, which result in deterioration in performance of fibrous insulation. Like thermal looping, this is an issue of improperly specified/installed insulation. Both of these issues may not be apparent in many homes. Therefore, according to SEI, ‘reliable estimation of resultant heat losses is very difficult'.
The requirement to provide a BER is being introduced on a phased basis as follows: New dwellings: The regulations apply to new dwellings for which planning permission was applied for on or after 1st January 2007. Transitional BER exemptions will apply to new dwellings for which planning permission is applied on or before 31st December 2006, where the new dwellings involved are substantially completed on or before 30th June 2008.
New Non-Domestic Buildings: The regulations apply to new dwellings for which planning permission was applied for on or after 1st July 2008. Transitional BER exemptions will apply to new non-domestic buildings for which planning permission is applied on or before 30th June 2008 provided the new non-domestic buildings involved are substantially completed by 30th June 2010.
Existing Buildings (dwellings and other buildings) when offered for sale or letting on or after 1st January 2009.