Northern Ireland Building Regulations: Consultation on Energy Efficiency Upgrades for Net Zero Future
On 26th July 2023, the Department of Finance issued a new consultation covering revisions to Technical Booklets F1 and F2 of the Northern Irish Building Regulations. The consultation forms Phase 2 of the Executive’s Energy Strategy – Path to Net Zero Energy (December 2021). The revisions to the standards that result from it will form Phase 3 in a series of uplifts to Part F expected towards the end of 2024. The consultation closes on the 15th November 2023.
The consultation covers standards for both Domestic and Non-Domestic buildings, and many of the proposals are similar to recent changes seen in other regions of the UK.
For new Domestic buildings the most notable proposed changes are as follows:
- Introduction of Primary Energy and Fabric Energy Efficiency compliance standards alongside the retained Carbon Emissions standard.
- New notional dwelling removing the requirement for manual checks that were introduced in TB F1 2022.
- Removal of fuel factors to encourage the transition to low-carbon heating systems.
- Adoption of the SAP 10 methodology for the calculation of compliance metrics.
- Mandatory air tightness testing for all new build dwellings.
- Introduction of BREL type compliance report and requirement for on-site photographic evidence.
- New standards to mitigate the risk of overheating in new homes with simplified and dynamic simulation modelling options available to demonstrate compliance.
Jason Hewins, New Build Dwellings Support Manager, comments:
“Elmhurst applauds the Northern Irish Government for continuing to improve the standards for energy efficiency of buildings in Northern Ireland. Many of the proposals have been implemented successfully in other areas of the UK. We particularly welcome the move to the latest version of the SAP methodology to reflect more up-to-date cost, carbon, and primary energy factors.
Elmhurst will now draft our consultation response and publish this for all members to comment on before submitting a final consultation response in November”.
The current version of SBEM software being used for Energy Performance Certificates in Northern Ireland is 4.1h. For England and Wales, the most recent software version is 6.1e. This is a significant disparity with the software that has existed for several years.
The new consultation seeks views from active members in the industry to see if moving the Northern Ireland software in line with England and Wales could be beneficial. Replication of England and Wales standards can aid with training, familiarity, and software use. Implementation of proposed changes noted in this consultation could be incorporated more quickly and effectively should this adoption of similar software and standards be accepted.
Other notable proposed changes for new Non-Domestic buildings include:
- Emissions improvement.
- Building fabric/materials quality improvement.
- Efficiencies improvement.
- Overheating improvement.
- Further implementation and better use of renewables/heat pumps.
- Introduction of the Primary Energy metric.
Those familiar with the SAP methodology and software changes last year may already be familiar with the above topics. As the industry moves towards a net zero emission target, all the above topics combine to lead us on that path which will be defined further as we head towards the 2025 Future Homes proposals. Improving new build construction quality and treating existing building improvements similarly is the overall goal this consultation hopes to achieve.
John Robinson, Non-Domestic Scheme Manager, comments:
“Elmhurst agrees that there is a great benefit in bringing the regional standards together. Through daily conversations with assessors, we have found that many individuals would prefer this solution as it would aid in technical guidance, adoption of conventions procedures, and maintaining auditing processes.”
Elmhurst will respond to the consultation in due course and encourage all those with valuable insight within the industry to engage in this significant milestone.
To view or respond to the consultation document, please click the following link: https://www.finance-ni.gov.uk/consultations/review-energy-efficiency-building-regulations
The closing date for receipt of responses is 15th November 2023.