Part L- is compliance worth the paper its written on?

by Bregs Blog admin team

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Part L independent certification and inspections

Given that the Taoiseach is currently discussing carbon emissions in the UN Climate Summit, many specialist thermal modellers have highlighted deficiencies in our current building regulations. The Taoiseach told the summit  that Ireland is a ‘world leader in carbon-efficient agriculture and food production’ (see link here); unfortunately the reality on the ground would appear to be quite different.

In article in Passive House magazine from 23rd May 2014  “Two thirds of new Irish homes fail energy efficiency rules” By Lenny Antonelli & Jeff Colley (see link), it was noted that “Less than a third of new Irish homes meet energy efficiency and carbon emissions regulations, according to new figures. The number of new homes meeting the rules has also declined dramatically since 2005, according to data released by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.”

The article goes on: “Only 32.5% of new homes built to the 2008 version of Part L of the building regulations — which deals with insulation and energy — met all of its main energy and carbon requirements: the minimum renewable energy contribution, U-value (insulation) requirements, heating system efficiency and airtightness requirements, plus the energy and carbon performance coefficients, figures that measure a dwelling’s overall level of energy efficiency and carbon emissions…

The figures show that individually 50% of homes fail to meet the energy performance coefficient, 40% fail to meet the carbon emissions standard, and 39% don’t generate enough renewable energy to meet regulations…[emphasis by Blog]

Of the 3,595 BER assessments carried out on houses built to the 2008 version of Part L of the building regulations, which deals with insulation and energy, 2,426 — or 67.5% — fail at least one of the main standards…”

The article notes that Part L was updated again in 2013, but few homes have been built to this new standard.

Last year Construct Ireland revealed that in an unpublished SEAI survey, none of the houses examined complied fully with energy efficiency regulations (the survey was of Irish housing built between 1997 and 2002). Over 90% of of homes with oil boilers failed to comply with rules on reducing the risk of fire spread and pollution from oil tanks, while over 40% failed to meet ventilation standards. This is an extraordinary finding.

Many industry specialists now are discussing the need for independent inspections for Part L, and/or a separate submission for a “Part L certificate” to Local Authorities similar to those required for fire and disabled access (Parts B and M). The Local Authorities have the necessary staff and infrastructure for these at present and there would be minimal staffing required.

Recent Central Statistics Office figures (see link here) suggest that compliance with this section of the building regulations appears to be ‘on paper only’, given the definitive evidence of widespread non-compliance in completed buildings.

Recent figures would appear to demonstrate that self-certification simply does not work when it comes to Part L compliance and that we cannot beat climate change (and meet energy and carbon emission targets) without independent inspection of all new buildings/ retrofit projects.

Other posts of interest:

Design Certifiers – 3 things about certifying Part L… 

Why the design certifier and architect need third party building fabric assessments

Opinion piece: new building regulations and materials risk analysis

SI.9 and Part L | Specialist ancillary certifiers Part 2

SI.9 and Part L | Are specialist ancillary certifiers needed? Part 1 

Dispensations and Transition Arrangements

Practical Post 10: No retrospective compliance – BC(A)R SI.9

Practical Post 13: Duties & conflicts- BC(A)R SI.9 

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