The European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) requires that all new buildings comply with NZEB standards. ‘Nearly Zero – Energy Buildings’ means a building that has a very high energy performance, “the nearly zero or very low amount of energy required should be covered to a very significant extent by energy from renewable sources, including energy from renewable sources produced on-site or nearby”.
Each member Government uses its discretion as to how the standard is applied. In Ireland, as of January 1st, 2019, Public buildings had to adhere to this standard and by December 31st, 2020 the policy will apply to all new buildings. This is the equivalent to a 60% improvement on 2008 Building Regulations in Ireland. So what factors are required to improve the energy performance of a building? Fabric, services and lighting specifications are key elements to improve upon to comply with this regulation. NZEB also creates a compulsory requirement for renewable sources. Whist depending on the building – there is some flexibility on this use of renewable sources, in general, renewable sources must provide 20% of the primary energy use – in some cases the building will already be more energy efficient than the required regulations.
So how has this impacted commercial building design in recent times? In order to achieve the 60% improvement compared to 2008 standards, various factors are now more at the fore at the early design stage. Design teams have had to upskill to ensure that they have the skills required to establish compliance from a technical point-of-view, special software has been developed to measure effectiveness. The importance of the fabric of the building for solar shading, airtightness and glazing ratios must all be considered at the early stages of design as well as the requirement to meet the new renewable sources standards. All of these factors optimise the building’s cost and assists in maintaining its value over its lifetime.
Irish Green Building Council