Part L | DECLG slowdown: Better building or more red-tape?


17 February 2015

Many industry observers were surprised at councillors in DunLaoghaire-Rathdown (DLR) County Council jumping the gun and voting that all new housing adopt the rigorous “Passive House” standard (see link here) as part of a proposed amendment to their draft Development Plan; this is considered to be the prerogative of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLG). Less surprising was the rush to condemn the proposal by the Construction Industry Federation who always appear to resist any increase in building standards in order to minimise costs of construction to its members. The issue signals the potential for 34 different Building Codes developing across Ireland.

In fairness to the DLR councillors, the DECLG and the professional organisations have been dragging their feet on any energy initiatives to date.

DECLG Implementation Plan:

Buildings are responsible for approximately 40% of energy consumption and some 36% of the European Union’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Within the buildings sector, improvements in energy efficiency in tandem with the increased use of renewable energy technologies constitute important policy measures

In addition to the recent regulations in respect of dwellings, in 2012, DECLG will be commencing a review of Part L in relation to buildings other than dwellings. .. It is anticipated that the proposed review will be completed and new regulations/technical guidance published by end 2013.

See DECLG PDF here: Development and Housing Building Standards.pdf

This review has not happened as confirmed at the Irish Building Control Institute conference in April 2014 (see PDF Building Regulations update Eamonn Smyth). Now in 2015 we are still on Part L (other than dwellings) from 2008. Yet- “Further review of Part L needed to achieve nZEB (Near Zero Energy Buildings) by 2018”. Extract:

IBCI 2-14

We appear to be stuck on a 2008 standard and need to make the leap to nZEB buildings by 2018? To get to near zero energy building standards from where we are today is a huge leap.

It’ll be a big ask to get the industry- designers and builders, ready for this.

Bregs Blog Admin Notes:

Articles mentioned in this post:

Irish Times: New buildings in Dun Laoghaire must adopt low energy standards 

DECLG Implementation Plan: Development and Housing Building Standards.pdf

IBCI presentation 2014: Building_Regulations_Update_Eamonn_Smyth.pdf

Other posts of interest:

Upskilling of construction workforce crucial to achieve a compliance culture.

The Latest Homebond House Building Manual: A Critique | Joseph Little Architects

Part L compliance issues – S.I.9 (1 of 2)

Notes from the (thermal) edge: Part L Compliance (2 of 2)

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

Costs of SI.9 regulations are 30-50% of average deposit for a new home!

Ronan Lyons | Regulations pushing up the costs of homes

World Bank Report 2015 | Ireland’s poor construction regulations are the biggest drag on our ranking

2 thoughts on “Part L | DECLG slowdown: Better building or more red-tape?

  1. Andrew Alexander MRIAI

    Have the Council made this decision based on viewing a single house?

    Dare I say it but just because we are using Germany’s currency does not mean we are suited to adopting a German lifestyle.

    The successful application of low energy technology in one’s home or any other building is intimately connected to the lifestyle and needs of the end user.

    Any good energy consultant will agree that the selection of appropriate low energy technologies for a house should take into account site specific factors e.g. the age and number of the occupants and the location of the property (senior citizens / growing family / urban / countryside).

    Environmental and financial sustainability go hand in hand.

    The nature of power generation at source can also have an influence. Micro combined heat and power boilers for example record significant carbon savings (if they are appropriately sized and installed) up until the point where the central power station itself begins to employ more green and efficient technologies (a EU commitment) – at which point the carbon saving at the receiving end becomes negligible.

    And what about the family who want (in time honoured Irish tradition) to leave the back door open all day to keep an eye on the kids in the garden while they work in the kitchen or in the study or the workshop? Or to simply air the house? What rapid response heat source will they use to warm up the house when they ‘close up’ for the evening?

    Or the house where the enthusiastic amateur mechanic spends their Saturday afternoon unwinding by tinkering at the MG midget in the garage extension, roller shutter open to the world – offering an opportunity for conversation and social interaction?

    When they ‘close up’ for the evening – what rapid response heat source will they use?

    What are their options if this is how they want to live? How responsive will the Passive House be to their needs? My guess is they will continue to live as they have always lived – eventually investing in a back-up boiler as their price for freedom.

  2. Lester Naughton

    The problem the department has is that they have adopted a system with DEAP
    that is seriously flawed when it comes to higher end energy efficient buildings perhaps this explains the delay ? Maybe it is because they are putting all their energy into issuing the still to be published acceptable construction details 2011 (try certifying compliance with non existing details!) I would support passive house as the national new build fabric standard however I am totally against individual councils setting different standards. Regarding the arguments above passive house can have whatever heating system you want and obviously any amount of insulation is useless when the door is left open. Also one major advantage of heat recovery ventilation in any house (passive fabric or not) is planned and consistent ventilation without significant heat loss thus little need for “airing out” . The arguments made could be used against any form of energy efficient fabric be it passive levels or 10% of that. It seems mad to me that an old stone cottage with single glazing and holes in the walls could be an A1 rated “energy efficient” house so long as it had a big enough hydro electric generator to provide all its energy needs.


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