There are few of us who have not heard about last year's Paris Agreement on climate change where Ireland signed up to reduce its carbon emissions drastically in the coming years. Much as been said about whether the commitments made are achievable.
One of the current suggestions being made is to encourage home owners to renovate their homes to make them more energy efficient. Given that 30% of the state's carbon emissions come from existing buildings this is surely an obvious way to tackle our emissions. The obvious upside of this is a worthwhile reduction in energy costs.
While many new buildings are achieving or targeting to achieve the LEED platinum standard certification, what can you do to retro-fit your home or building to make it more energy efficient? Grants are available for homes for certain energy efficiency upgrades. It does not appear that such grants apply to commercial buildings and the costs can escalate rapidly. We have been advising a number of landlord and tenant clients in relation to BER certification requirements. In many cases BERs are inaccurate and not to be relied upon. Increasingly our clients are engaging energy consultants on their refurbishment projects to help satisfy tenants and funders that the completed buildings will be efficient and cost effective for occupiers. Tenanted building owners can agree with their tenants to share the cost of any energy upgrade works by entering a licence for works and agreeing to share the costs. Any such proposed works must also be considered under the present planning legislation and building regulations. Professional advice should be sought to ensure such works are compliant under the regulations prior to commencement.
Existing buildings currently account for approximately 30 per cent of Ireland’s total carbon emissions and ensuring they are as energy efficient as possible will be key to help meet the Paris Agreement. Experts widely agree that despite the large number of initiatives aimed at tackling this problem, the rate and depth of renovation is insufficient to meet long-term climate targets. Last month, the Irish Green Building Council, along with 12 other European Councils officially launched BUILD UPON – the world’s largest collaborative project on building renovation. The project aims to create a renovation revolution across Europe, by establishing renovation strategies that involve and align the thousands of actors and existing initiatives tackling building renovation in the region.