Buildings account for some 40 % of European energy consumption and related C02 emissions. Our demands for lighting, heating and cooling, and hot water in our homes, workplaces and leisure facilities, consume more energy than either transport or industry.
The EC Green Paper on Energy Efficiency (EU, 2005) states that it is possible for Member States to achieve savings of 20% by 2010 and sees the greatest proportion of these savings coming from the built environment (SEI, 2008). The EU Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings requires all Member States, including Ireland, to improve energy efficiency and to provide a building energy rating certificate for all buildings when sold or let
Following the Government White Paper ‘Delivering a Sustainable Energy Future for Ireland’ and the subsequent ‘An Agreed Programme for Government’, the current requirement of the Building Regulations TGD Part L in respect of new dwellings is for a 40% reduction relative to previous standards in respect of primary energy consumption and associated CO2 emissions with a further review in 2010 with the aim of extending the requirement to a 60% reduction. The ultimate aim is to achieve carbon neutral buildings in the very near future – as early as 2013 has been indicated.
This is a significant challenge and it is clear that many factors related to the performance of new-build and existing buildings must be addressed if we are to achieve the objectives set out at both European and national level. This paper will explore these factors and the implications for the manner in which we design, construct and use our buildings.