Home Knowledge Heating Up? New Energy Efficiency Regulations for Buildings

Heating Up? New Energy Efficiency Regulations for Buildings


The Building Regulations (Part L Amendment) Regulations 2017, SI No 538/2017 (the “Regulations”) have been published, aiming to improve energy and carbon performance of new buildings, extensions to new buildings and major renovations.

Purpose of the Regulations?

The Regulations transpose EU requirements for nearly zero-energy buildings and major renovations set out in Directive 2010/31/EU on the energy performance of buildings (recast) (the “Directive”), seeking to increase energy efficiency across the EU and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Article 9(1) of the Directive requires EU Member States to ensure that:

  • By 31 December 2020, all new buildings are nearly zero-energy buildings (“NZEB”); and
  • After 31 December 2018, new buildings occupied and owned by public authorities are nearly zero-energy buildings.

Nearly Zero-Energy Buildings

The Directive defines a NZEB as a building with a very high energy performance, as determined in accordance with a methodology of calculation set out in the Directive. This definition was already incorporated to Irish law under the Building Regulations (Amendment) Regulations 2017, SI No 4/2017.

The nearly zero or very low amount of energy needed should be covered to a significant extent by energy from a renewable source, ideally produced on-site or nearby.

In Ireland, both energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions for new buildings other than dwellings can be calculated using the Non-Domestic Energy Assessment Procedure (“NEAP”) published by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.

Under the Regulations, buildings will need to be designed and constructed so as to ensure that the energy performance of the building is such as to limit the amount of energy required to operate it and reduce associated carbon dioxide emissions, in so far as practicable.

Types of buildings and works affected?

The Regulations apply to works to buildings other than dwellings, including new buildings and existing buildings in which a material change of use takes place or which undergoes major renovation. The Regulations describe major renovation as a renovation where more than 25% of the surface envelope of the building undergoes renovation.

The Regulations amend Part L (Conservation of Fuel and Energy) of the Building Regulations 1997-2017, Second Schedule, setting out statutory minimum standards of energy efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions to be delivered by such buildings upon construction.

When do the Regulations commence?

Subject to transitional arrangements, the Regulations will apply from 1 January 2019. Transitional arrangements will apply where:

  • A planning application for planning permission or approval is made on or before 31 December 2018 and substantial work is completed by 1 January 2020; or
  • A notice under Part 8 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 SI 600/2001 has been published on or before 31 December 2018 and where substantial work has been completed by 1 January 2020.

In turn, substantial work has been completed means that the structure of the external walls of the building have been erected.


Owners, public sector bodies, contractors, designers, asset and facilities managers need to carefully consider and map out how to meet the challenges of designing, constructing and managing works, projects and buildings to meet the Regulation’s new energy efficiency requirements prior to 1 January 2019 – before things heat up.

Contributed by: Cassandra Byrne

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