Unpublished 2005 SEAI report shows shocking lack of compliance with Building Regulations

An unpublished 2005 Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland report found that new homes were failing to meet minimum energy efficiency, ventilation and fire safety regulations during the boom.

The report, obtained by leading sustainable construction magazine ‘Construct Ireland’, also showed worrying evidence that the trend in energy consumption levels – which had been gradually falling in homes built between 1981 and 1996 – shifted to dramatic increases in energy use for houses built from 1997 to 2002.

SEAI commissioned The Energy Performance Survey of Irish housing in 2004, which was carried out by City of Dublin Energy Management Agency, DIT and three regional energy agencies between January and May 2005.

The report analysed the energy performance of a representative sample of 150 houses and apartments to establish a profile of the national housing stock, with a smaller sample of 52 homes built between 1997 & 2002 checked for compliance with Part L, F and J – the building regulations that deal with conservation of fuel and power, ventilation, and requirements for boilers respectively. The homes were also checked for compliance with SI 260 of 1994, which sets requirements for boiler efficiency.

Of the 52 homes inspected, none complied with all three of the building regulations selected, while only one complied in full with energy efficiency standards under Part L of the building regulations.

The full report, together with editorial comment is available for download at

US carbon emissions at lowest since 1994

Energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the US fell by nearly 4 per cent last year and are now at their lowest level since 1994, according to official figures published by the US Energy Information Administration in October 2013.

The 3.8 per cent downturn from the 2011 figure is seen as significant because it coincided with a period of modest economic growth. Emissions are now more than 12 per cent lower than at their peak in 2007. Since 1990, only the recession year of 2009 saw a larger percentage decrease.

The latest decline suggests a degree of “de-coupling” between economic growth and rising emissions, as it was the largest in a year with positive growth in per capita economic output – admittedly by only 2 per cent. A large drop in “energy intensity” (consumption of energy measured against GDP) assisted the 2012 decline. Half of it came from the residential sector, due to a fall in heating demand in the very warm first quarter of the year.

Since 2007, residential sector electricity-related CO2 emissions have declined to levels last seen in the late 1990s. The next biggest decline was in the transport sector, which accounted for 22 per cent of the overall downturn. Vehicle miles travelled in 2012 were flat compared to 2011, while more energy-efficient cars are continuing to enter the market – following the Obama administration’s insistence on higher standards as a condition for its bailout of the auto industry.

Cheaper natural gas competed favourably with coal, which has a much higher carbon content, with electricity companies using more gas. This substantially reduced the carbon intensity of power generation.

DCENR release Renewable Energy Strategy for 2012 to 2020

The Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources have released their strategy document for the renewable energy sector in Ireland between now and 2020.

As the strategy says “The development of renewable energy is central to overall energy policy in Ireland. Renewable energy reduces dependence on fossil fuels, improves security of supply, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions creating environmental benefits while delivering green jobs to the economy, thus contributing to national competitiveness and the jobs and growth agenda.”

The document sets out five strategic goals – increasing on and offshore wind, building a sustainable bioenergy sector, fostering R&D in renewables such as wave & tidal, growing sustainable transport and building out robust and efficient networks.

It is hoped that it delivers on its projections. The full document can be downloaded here

Successful completion of EU project on sustainable technologies in communities (HOLISTIC)

An EU funded project on sustainable technologies involving communities in Dundalk, Switzerland and Austria has achieved in excess of €20 million in energy savings, €10 million of which were achieved in the Louth town. These savings were achieved across the public partners including Louth County Council, The HSE, O’Fiaich College, Dundalk Town Council as well as local businesses.

The outcomes of the HOLISTIC Project (Holistic Optimisation Leading to Integration of Sustainable Technologies In Communities) were presented to the international partners at the final project board meeting in Dundalk on October 12th, which was hosted by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and Louth County Council.

The three international towns involved in the HOLISTIC project were Neuchatel in Switzerland, Modling in Austria and Dundalk.   The six year project, which had a budget of approximately €10 million (over €3m for each community) and leveraged over €50m in additional investment, has enabled the completion of  25 sustainable energy projects across Europe.