The Building Regulations (Part L Amendment) Regulations 2017 have been signed into law with effect from 1 January 2019. Anyone designing, planning, managing or otherwise interested in a new build or major renovation should review the Regulations and understand what they mean for their project.

What do the new Regulations do?

The main purpose and effect of the new Regulations is to implement the requirements of the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (2010/31/EU) for “nearly zero energy buildings” (commonly referred to as “NZEB”) and so to set higher building energy performance standards in accordance with the EU Directive.

What types of works are affected by the Regulations?

The Regulations apply to:

(i) new buildings; and

(ii) existing buildings undergoing major renovation (with “major renovation” for the purposes of the Regulations being a renovation where more than 25% of the surface envelope of the building undergoes renovation).

The Regulations do not apply to dwellings (whether new or existing) or major renovations to protected structures or proposed protected structures.

When do the new Regulations apply?

The Regulations apply on and from 1 January 2019. Transitional arrangements apply for works for which (i) planning permission or approval is applied for (or a notice under Part 8 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 is published) on or before 31 December 2018 and (ii) “substantial work has been completed” by 1 January 2020. “Substantial work has been completed” for the purposes of the Regulations when the structure of the external walls of the building has been erected.

The Directive requires Member States to ensure that new buildings in public ownership or occupation are nearly zero energy buildings after 31 December 2018. The new Irish Regulations do not draw a distinction between how they apply to new buildings in public ownership or occupation and any other, so that the 12 month transitional arrangements would appear to apply to all works to which the Regulations apply. It remains to be seen how this will work through in practice.

Steps to be taken now

The Regulations first apply from 1 January 2019 and the transitional arrangements do give some lead in time to work the new requirements into project design and planning. However anyone involved now in the design, project planning, construction or management of works to buildings other than dwellings will need to look closely at the new requirements and consider the period of validity of the permissions and consents relevant to their project and the estimated timeframe for construction and completion of the works to avoid failing to comply with the requirements, once applicable.