Irish construction industry not ready for new EU energy standards
Nearly a third of construction professionals did not know about the nearly-zero energy requirement for all new buildings by the year 2020, according to a survey of Passive House Plus readers.
The survey asked a full range of construction professionals, including architects, engineers, contractors and surveyors, about their knowledge of the ‘nearly zero’ standard. This is a requirement by the European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive that all new buildings should be ‘nearly zero energy buildings’ (NZEBs) by the year 2020.
Passive House Plus magazine readers are well versed in low energy construction and passive house standards, yet 31% of respondents did not know about the legislation. The survey also revealed that the industry has little experience of constructing to the new building regulations on energy efficiency, Part L 2011. This is to be expected given the low level of house-building in the past five years.
More than half (58%) of respondents had not yet designed or built homes to the new standards and two thirds of those who had done so found it a challenge, saying it was moderately difficult or very difficult to achieve compliance.
Pat Barry of the Irish Green Building Council said: “This survey was carried out with a group of well-informed readers of Passive House Plus magazine, so it is fair to say that a less informed group of professionals and contractors will find it an even greater challenge. The wider industry will be in for a shock once house building starts in earnest."
However the survey also found that, of those who said that complying with Part L 2011 was easy, 70% had done training in energy efficiency. Seamus Hoyne of Limerick Institute of Technology, which is co-ordinating the development of the Qualibuild project aimed at upskilling Irish construction trades, said: “This would appear to be the key finding. Training is the solution to ensuring that professionals and trades have the competence to achieve the new standards.”
Paul Kenny of Tipperary Energy Agency, who are leading the SustainCo (Sustainable Energy for Rural Communities) project, said: "Over the past five years the Tipperary Energy Agency has been working on retrofit and new builds and appropriately skilled construction workers exist in only a handful of firms. There is a definite business case for upskilling, but few small building firms understand this yet."