I thank the committee for the invitation to attend the meeting today to discuss COM (2021) 802 a proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the energy performance of buildings. I am joined by my colleagues Ms Dara Stewart, programme manager for the energy performance of buildings directive and building energy regulations operations, Ms Orla Coyle, programme manager for project support, and Mr. Chris Hughes, energy performance of buildings directive and building energy regulations development.
The SEAI is Ireland's national sustainable energy authority. We work with householders, businesses, communities and Government to create a cleaner energy future. The SEAI is funded by the Government through its parent Department, the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, and the Department of Transport. In 2022, our budget allocation is more than €440 million. The SEAI provides expert advice to drive positive change through our analysis, modelling and support for policymaking. We enable direct action through our design and delivery of grant and incentive programmes, and through our capacity-building processes with citizens, communities and private and public sector organisations. In pursuit of our mandate, we collaborate closely with a wide range of stakeholders, including Departments and State agencies.
The energy performance of buildings directive, EPBD, was first published in 2002 and it is the main legislative instrument to promote building energy performance. The EPBD, which has gone through several iterations over the years, sets out requirements for a building energy calculation methodology, including minimum standards for new buildings and works to existing buildings, which are Part L of the building regulations; energy performance certificates, which are the building energy ratings, BERs; nearly zero energy buildings; and a registration and accreditation system for assessors. Together, these requirements have resulted in a positive change of trends in the energy performance of buildings, including a 70% improvement in the energy performance of new domestic buildings and a 60% improvement in the energy performance of new non-domestic buildings compared with 2005.
The concerted action EPBD is a joint initiative between EU member states and the European Commission to enhance the sharing of information and experiences from the national adoption and implementation of this important European legislation. It is organised around meetings between national teams and regularly brings together more than 120 participants from 29 countries. The SEAI is a member of the concerted action management team and is the central team manager responsible for work on nearly zero energy buildings. Ireland is a leader among its European peers in terms of its implementation of the EPBD, with the early introduction of the electronic building energy rating, BER, register and advertising guidelines replicated in other member states. The SEAI is also represented on the energy in buildings and communities programme of the International Energy Agency, IEA, which includes sitting on the building energy codes working group and the Horizon 2020 clean energy transition strategic energy technologies, SET, plan for energy-efficient buildings.
The SEAI administers the BER system in accordance with the European Union energy performance of buildings regulations 2012. The SEAI’s statutory functions include registering assessors to carry out assessments; issuing directions on how assessments are to be carried out by assessors and how certificates are to be issued; specifying the procedures, methodologies and software to be followed by assessors when carrying out assessments; and maintaining the national and assessors registers. As the issuing authority, the SEAI has delivered the systems and processes for administering the BER system, including registered assessors, published BERs and mandatory advertising guidelines for property dealings. The SEAI completed a significant update to the BER advisory report for dwellings, which became available in June 2021. The updated report provides a personalised roadmap for homeowners on how to upgrade their homes to a target of a B2 energy rating or better. This is a key instrument to help achieve the ambitious home energy upgrade targets in the climate action plan. The BER is a requirement for many of the SEAI’s grants schemes.
To support further the implementation of the EPBD, the SEAI has supported the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in the roll-out of the building regulations for new and existing buildings, the development and publication of calculation methodology, and the development of cost-optimal studies; supported the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications in the publication of the long-term renovation strategy; mobilised investment in renovation through our grant schemes, the introduction of packaged solutions, and the development of the recently launched one-stop shop programme; provided financial and technical support in the development of national standards, including the National Standards Authority of Ireland, NSAI, standards for energy retrofitting of dwellings and heat pumps and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage's standards for energy efficiency in traditional buildings, based on lessons learned from our grant schemes; supported the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in informing large building owners regarding the requirements for building automation and control systems and electric vehicles, EVs; and undertook future-proofing of the forthcoming recast directive through our research development and demonstration programme, which has supported projects in monitoring the performance of technologies in buildings, investigating operational performance of buildings, researching the embodied carbon of buildings, and piloting the building renovation passport.
Since its introduction in 2002, the directive has evolved, and changes to it have been effected at a national level through the EPBD implementation group, which is a collaboration between the SEAI, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications. The proposed EPBD revision, published in December 2021, has a twofold objective: to contribute to reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of buildings and final energy consumption by 2030, and to provide a long-term vision for buildings and ensure an adequate contribution to achieving climate neutrality in 2050. The European Commission target is that the community’s building stock will be emitting zero emissions by 2050.
The SEAI is working with our departmental colleagues in preparation for the proposed changes to the directive. These may include the following high-level requirements: all new buildings to be zero emissions from 2027 for public buildings and 2030 for all others; whole life cycle greenhouse gas emissions to be calculated for all new large buildings from 2030; minimum energy standards for all buildings; availability of building renovation passports and smart readiness indicators for buildings; and the reclassification of the BER system.
We thank our colleagues in the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage for their continued support and close collaboration. I welcome this discussion with the committee and my colleagues and I are happy to answer any questions the members may wish to raise.