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The growth of the low Energy Revolution

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Ireland’s new build housing market is undergoing a radical transformation in energy performance specifications with oil heating all but vanishing from use, leaving gas boilers and heat pumps to dominate the heating market.

Meanwhile insulation standards are approaching passive house levels, average air tightness results are roughly three times tighter than during the boom, and both solar photo-voltaic arrays and whole house mechanical ventilation systems are being installed in the majority of new homes for the first time. The analysis also contains revealing information on a broad range of indicators including dwelling type, location and completion numbers.

Taking account of final and provisional BERS  for new homes subject to the current version of Part L, the average new home last year achieved a primary energy score of 54.2 kWh/m2/yr, meaning standard practice in the industry is on the cusp of an A2 BER. This indicates that the industry is well placed to comply with the forthcoming nearly zero energy building standard, which the Department of Housing estimates will bring the average home up to 45 kWh/m2/yr.

The average new home built to the current building regulations has a primary energy target of roughly 60 kWh/m2/yr, which suggests that the industry is typically exceeding minimum compliance by some distance.

99.2% of final and provisional BERS for new homes scored an A3 BER or better in 2016, a figure that was exactly replicated for the first half of 2017. However, there are signs of a possible decline in ambition, given that the number of A3 ratings among new homes rose from 70.8% last year to 77.77% in 2017, with A2s falling from 28.1% to 21%.

Provisional BERS indicate intentions rather than actions, and there is evidence of a very small weakening from provisional to final BERS. While 99.2% of BERS this year and last year scored an A3 or better, 99.05% of final BERS for new homes built last year achieved an A3 BER or better, with a slight decline to 98.46% in 2017 so far.