In July 2021, the European Union (Energy Performance of Buildings) Regulations 2021 (the 2021 Regulations) were published, followed swiftly by government guidance on how to apply the 2021 Regulations (the Technical Guidance). The publication of the 2021 Regulations and accompanying Technical Guidance underscores the continued focus on improving the energy efficiency and sustainability of buildings performance (other than dwellings) and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by boosting renovation obligations.
What new requirements are relevant to the construction and property sectors and those managing or delivering refurbished or new commercial buildings?
Prior to the publication of the 2021 Regulations, Irish legislation in the area of buildings' energy performance included:
- the Building Regulations (Part L Amendment) Regulations 2017, which require buildings (other than dwellings) to be designed and constructed so as to ensure that the energy performance of the building limits the amount of energy required to operate it and reduce associated carbon dioxide emissions, in so far as practicable. These 2017 Regulations transposed EU requirements for nearly zero-energy buildings (NZEBs) and major renovations under Directive 2010/31/EU on the energy performance of buildings (recast) (the EPBD) and applied from 1 January 2019, subject to transitional arrangements (see here further details), and
- the European Union (Energy Performance of Buildings) Regulations 2019 and the European Union (Energy Performance of Buildings) (No.2) Regulations 2019 which transposed amendments to the EPBD, after it was comprehensively updated in line with the EU's evolving ESG aims (see here for further details).
Types of buildings and works affected?
The 2021 Regulations are applicable in respect of works to (i) new buildings; (ii) existing buildings (other than a dwelling); and (iii) buildings which undergo major renovation (referenced in the 2019 Regulations as renovation where more than 25% of the surface envelope of the building undergoes renovation).
Requirements for Design and Construction of Works and buildings
Works and buildings subject to the 2021 Regulations must, where technically and economically feasible, be designed and constructed in accordance with the following requirements:
- new buildings must be equipped with self-regulating devices for separate regulation of room temperature in each room, or where justified, in a designated heated zone of the building unit;
- where a heat generator is being replaced in an existing building, self-regulating devices must also be installed;
- an existing building (other than a dwelling) must, before 31 December 2025, be equipped with a building automation and control system if the effective rated output in the building is over 290kW for (a) heating systems or systems for combined space heating and ventilation or (b) air conditioning systems or combined air-conditioning and ventilation. The Technical Guidance expands on this requirement and compliance with the Technical Guidance indicates, prima facie, compliance with the 2021 Regulations.
New Electric Vehicle Recharging Infrastructure Obligations
The 2021 Regulations contain new obligations to provide car recharging infrastructure:
- existing buildings (other than a dwelling) with more than 20 car parking spaces: there must be installed, before 1 January 2025, one, or more, recharging points. However, this obligation does not apply to a building owned and occupied by a small or medium sized enterprise. Section 2 of the Technical Guidance expands on this requirement and compliance with the Technical Guidance indicates, prima facie, compliance with the 2021 Regulations.
- buildings (containing one, or more than one, dwelling), which has more than 10 car parking spaces, that are new, or undergoing major renovation: must have installed ducting infrastructure (consisting of conduits for electric cables) for each car parking space to enable the subsequent installation of recharging points for electric vehicles. However, this obligation does not apply to a building the subject of a notice made on or before 10 March 2021.
- buildings undergoing major renovation: the obligations apply to (i) internal car parks within a building, where the renovations concerned include the car park or the electrical infrastructure of the building; or (ii) car parks physically adjacent to the building, where the renovations concerned include the car park or the electrical infrastructure of the car park.
The 2021 Regulations aim to ensure that buildings achieve a cost optimal energy performance at building level insofar as is technically, functionally and economically feasible. The increasing ESG focus of legislation in this area creates not only opportunities, but also economic and practical delivery challenges for those acquiring, funding, managing or delivering refurbished or new commercial buildings. This, in turn, will need to be reflected in the supporting procurement cycle and contractual obligations.