New regulations mean that property owners must provide prospective buyers or tenants with a certificate detailing the building's energy efficiency.

The EU Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings has come into effect in Ireland by way of the European Communities (Energy Performance of Buildings) Regulations 2006. The effect of the legislation is that building owners must provide a building energy rating (BER) certificate to prospective buyers or tenants on sale or letting. The measures are being phased in on the following timescale:

  • New dwellings: the regulations apply to new dwellings for which planning permission was applied for on or after 1 January 2007. There are transitional BER exemptions that will apply to new dwellings for which planning permission was applied for on or before 31 December 2006 and where the new dwellings involved are substantially completed on or before 30 June 2008.
  • New non-domestic buildings: the regulations apply to new non-domestic buildings for which planning permission was applied for on or after 1 July 2008. As in new dwellings, transitional BER exemptions will apply where planning permission was applied for on or before 30 June 2008 provided the new buildings involved are substantially completed by 30 June 2010.
  • Existing buildings: (dwellings or other buildings) offered for sale or let on or after 1 January 2009. There are exemptions for certain categories of buildings, such as protected structures and temporary buildings, but the net effect is that whenever a building is sold or let, a BER certificate will be needed, as per the dates above. The owner or developer of the building will need to engage the services of a BER assessor, who will issue a certificate.

Failure to comply with these provisions could hinder or delay the legal completion of the sale/letting or the future sale/letting. It could also result in a fine up to a maximum of €5,000 upon conviction in the District Court.

A BER certificate will take into account several factors - for instance, the glazing used, insulation of the walls/floors/attic, boiler efficiency and so on. The energy performance of a building is expressed as:

  • primary energy use per unit floor area per year (kWh/m2/yr) and 
  • associated carbon dioxide (Co2) emissions in kgCO2/ m2/yr.

It is also important to note that a BER certificate does not cover electricity used for purposes other than heating, lighting, pumps and fans (for example, it does not include electricity used for cooking, refrigeration and so on). Certificates are valid for a period of ten years from date of issue, unless a significant change has taken place in the building that would affect its energy performance.

Owners and developers should note that there are several grants available for new and existing buildings aimed at incentivising the implementation of energy efficient performance and a reduction of CO2 emissions by households.

Information on these grants can be found at www.sei.ie.