BRegs Blog

A blog to debate the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations (BCAR): The BRegs Blog presents an opportunity for free expression of opinion on BCAR and their implementation. The blog is not representative of any professional body or organisation. Each post represents the personal opinion of that contributor and does not purport to represent the views of all contributors.

Passive house: an alternative method of meeting Part L?

by Bregs Blog admin team

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In this article from Passive House + magazine from 08 December 2014, author Philip Lee suggests that Passive House standard could be used as an alternative means of compliance for Part L under the new building regulations. Link to article here. Extract:

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Passive house: an alternative method of meeting Part L?

The passive house standard may be acceptable as an alternative method of compliance with Ireland’s stringent energy efficiency regulations, according to a leading expert in energy and construction law, leaving the door open to a similar approach in the UK.

The equivalent of England’s Approved Document L1A, Ireland’s Technical Guidance Document L for dwellings demands 60% energy and carbon reductions compared to 2005 levels, and requires renewable energy generation – 10kWh/m2/yr of thermal energy or 4kWh/m2/yr of electrical. These changes were heavily influenced by the campaigning work of this magazine’s predecessor, Construct Ireland.

But as with the UK regulations, the detail on compliance is contained within guidance documents, rather than in the regulation of Part L itself. As legal expert Philip Lee writes in the Irish edition of Passive House Plus issue 9, guidance documents don’t have the force of law, meaning alternative methods of compliance – such as passive house – could conceivably be used.

Curiously, buildings that go beyond Ireland’s 60% energy reductions can struggle to meet Ireland’s renewable energy targets, as they may not have sufficiently high energy demand to easily meet the 10kWh/m2/yr renewables target. Irish passive house advocates have long argued that dwellings meeting the standard should not be required to generate such quantities of renewable energy.

According to Lee: “It could be argued that the proportion of renewable energy to fossil fuels inherent in the technical guidance document could also be applied to a passive house. Therefore, if a passive house consumes 50% less primary energy, then the “proportion” of renewables set out in the technical guidance document, namely 10 kWh/m2 (heating) and 4 kWh/m2 (electrical energy), should be reduced by 50% to 5 kWh/m2 and 2 kWh/m2 respectively.”

“An alternative approach to the same interpretation of “reasonable” would be to look at the net balance of brown energy that is produced in a standard house and compare that to the net brown energy produced in a passive house. Provided that the net amount of fossil fuel being consumed in the passive house is less than that being consumed in a standard house then it could be argued that any actual energy coming from renewable sources would meet the ‘reasonable test’.”

Lee also points out that under the RES Directive, EU members states must “require the use of minimum levels of energy from renewable resources” both in new buildings and existing buildings that are subject to major renovation, from 31 December 2014. This means, he says, that Ireland’s Part L will be in breach of the directive if it is not quickly updated, as it specifies a “proportion” of renewable energy rather than a minimum amount. He warns that targets set in a guidance document don’t suffice, given their non-mandatory status. The four regions of the UK are also set to be in breach, based on current policy.

Lee points out that the directive encourages member states to take into account “national measures relating to substantial increases in energy efficiency” and to “passive, low or zero energy buildings” when updating their building regulations to increase the share of renewable energy.

Other posts of interest:

Is there a regulation for thermal bridging condensation risk? | Part L

Sunday Business Post | Karl Deeter “Building regulations – rules don’t deliver results”

Homebond | Assigned Certifier + defects liability policy for €2,000?

Part L compliance – Who wants a building control service provided by cowboys?

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

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SI.9 “each phase should be designed to stand alone” | BCMS

by Bregs Blog admin team

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The following email question to, and answer from the Building Control Management System (BCMS) was sent to us by a registered professional on the 11th December 2014.

The BCMS confirm that ” each phase of the development must be compliant and not have outstanding compliances in other phases even if this requires completing all the development works in advance”.

The BCMS clarification  suggests that completion of larger mixed-use projects and multi-unit residential schemes may be more onerous than was realised under the new regulations. Financing of larger projects frequently depends on early phases being complete and sold on, while later stages and some common areas, basements, roads and drainage may still be under construction. BReg Blog notes shown [ ]:

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[Dear BCMS]

The Code of Practice says that phased completions are possible.

Does the BCMS Commencement Notice have to be done as ‘one per house’ so that there can be separate Completion Certs for each house?

Or

If it’s ‘one per estate’ for Commencement Notices (see RIAI advice) can you you then just submit separate Completion Certs for each house under the one Commencement Notice?  If so is the Register set up for this?

What is an ‘overall’ Completion Cert for the development (see RIAI advice) and what will this cover?

Is it the same for apartments?

RIAI advice says:

How will the Commencement Notice work for a Housing Estate of 100 Houses?

A.: One Commencement Notice to be issued, if all the houses are to be built together. If not then a number of Commencement Notices will have to be issued for each phase.

100 Completion Certificates will have to be issued; one for each house as completed, and then one for overall development/ external work.

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Reply from BCMS, Date: 11 December 2014

Subject: Certificate of Compliance on Completion-Phased Completion Considerations

S. I. 9 of 2014 (9) A Certificate of Compliance on Completion may refer to works, buildings, including areas within a building, or developments, including phases thereof, and relevant details shall be clearly identified on the Certificate of Compliance on Completion itself, and subject to validation in line with the requirements at paragraphs (3) and (4), on the register.

Overview;

As a general rule the purpose of the Certificate of purpose of the Certificate of Compliance on Completion is to required for compliance with the;

  1. Administrative requirements as set out in the Building Control Regulations which is basically 3(a), (b)(i)  and the
  2. Design requirements 3(b)(ii) i.e. the requirements of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations before
  3. Works or buildings can be opened, occupied or used

Therefore it is recommended that any phasing of developments for the purpose of Certificate of Compliance on Completion Certificates should be carefully considered in the context of interdependency of the Parts A-M with each other and the other phases in the development.

For the purpose of best practice housing development and construction compliance each phase should be designed to stand alone and as such compliance with Part A-M should be addressed both individually and collectively.

In essence each phase of the development must be compliant and not have outstanding compliances in other phases even if this requires completing all the development works in advance i.e. Part B access for fire appliances, Part H treatment systems, Part M access and use, Part L, J there may be district heating etc. in general each phase must stand alone and should be assessed on its merits; best method is to audit the phase against the particular requirements of the Building Regulations, a consolidated summary is set out below for ease of reference

Reference is made to the requirements of the Building Control Regulations the relevant section which is set out below;

“Building Control Regulations 1997-2014-Part IIIC – Certificate of Compliance on Completion

20F (1) Subject to paragraph (2), a Certificate of Compliance on Completion shall be submitted to a building control authority and relevant particulars thereof shall be included on the Register maintained under Part IV before works or a building to which Part II or Part IIIA applies may be opened, occupied or used.

(2) The requirement for a Certificate of Compliance on Completion shall apply to the following works and buildings –

(a) the design and construction of a new dwelling,

(b) an extension to a dwelling involving a total floor area greater than 40 square meters,

(c) works to which Part III applies.

(3) A Certificate of Compliance on Completion shall be –

in the form specified for that purpose in the Sixth Schedule, and

(b) accompanied by such plans, calculations, specifications and particulars as are necessary to outline how the works or building as completed –

(i) differs from the plans, calculations, specifications and particulars submitted for the purposes of Article 9(1)(b)(i) or Article 20A(2)(a)(ii) as appropriate (to be listed and included at the Annex to the Certificate of Compliance on Completion), and

(ii) complies with the requirements of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations, and

[Part A — Structure; Part B—Fire Safety; Part C—Site preparation and resistance to moisture; Part D—Materials and workmanship; Part E—Sound; Part F—Ventilation; Part G—Hygiene;

Part H—Drainage and waste water disposal; Part J—Heat producing appliances; Part K—Stairways, ladders, ramps and guards; Part L—Conservation of fuel and energy; Part M—Access for disabled people]

(c) accompanied by the Inspection Plan as implemented by the Assigned Certifier in accordance with the Code of Practice referred to under article 20G(1) or a suitable equivalent.

Other posts of interest:

Have residential Completion Certificates been fully considered?

Completion Certificates for Multi-unit Housing

BCMS Completion Stage | No Ancillary Certificates required!

SI.9 causing major delays to school projects

SI.9 completion stage and the BCMS | Clouds are gathering!

5 Tips for Completion Certs

Press: RIAI fearful Local Authorities will start “finding something to invalidate as a method of workload control”

Build in 8 hours, wait 3 weeks for a Completion Cert!

Practical Post 19: Phased completion & BC(A)R SI.9 

Are Local Authorities ready? Industry concern for completion stage: BC(A)R SI.9 of 2014