NZEB EXPLAINED
December 2021

The introduction of NZEB (nearly zero energy building) in November of 2019 means that if you are building a new home or carrying out large-scale, major renovations to an existing home, you will have to comply with new rules to improve your home’s energy efficiency. Here are some of the key points you need to know before you start on your building project.

What are the benefits of NZEB?

40% of carbon emissions globally come from buildings. By improving your home’s energy rating, you’ll enhance your home’s comfort and make significant savings on your energy bills. You will also be doing your bit for the planet.

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What are the NZEB requirements for new builds?

Under the NZEB regulations, new build homes should be 60% more energy-efficient than new build homes constructed in 2008. They should achieve a Building Energy Rating (BER) of A2 and 20% of the total energy use should be generated from renewable sources.

What are the NZEB requirements for renovations?

Under the new rules, homeowners who plan to renovate more than 25% of the “envelope” or surface area of their home must bring the entire property up to a B2 BER rating. The “envelope” is the combined area of every surface of the house that leaks heat, so external walls, windows, doors, ground floor, and roof or ceiling.

A major renovation is typically activated under the following circumstances, where the work affects greater than 25% surface area of the existing house: External wall renovation, external or internal insulation. Replacement of external windows and doors. Exterior wall & roof renovations or the construction of a new extension.

Know your BER

If you are planning on renovating, the first thing you should do is get a BER (Building Energy Rating) done to determine your home’s BER rating. Homes with a BER of D1 or less face increased renovation costs.

Establishing your homes BER will give you a benchmark of the condition of your home and guidance on how to improve your home’s energy efficiency.

The SEAI website has a list of recommended BER assessors throughout Ireland. Don’t be tempted to choose someone based on price. There is a lot of work involved in getting a good assessment done. The cheapest quote won’t necessarily be the best. Get quotes from at least two different people and choose someone who you feel is the most experienced.

Budget wisely

If you plan to renovate or extend your existing home, bear in mind that the worse your BER rating, the more expensive it will be to renovate in line with the NZEB regulations.

When budgeting, aim to allow 45% of your budget for construction costs, 30% for fixtures and fittings like kitchens, sanitaryware, flooring and tiles, for example, 19% for professional fees, 4.5 % as a contingency (essentially 10% of the construction budget) and 1.5 % for sundry expenses like utility connections, removals, planning contributions etc.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Denise O’Connor

Managing Director Optimise Design, B.Arch. RIAI RIBA
& Senator’s Expert Design Consultant

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