Homes failed to meet energy and building regulations

 

NONE OF the homes examined for an unpublished survey of housing built between 1997 and 2002 complied with the State’s building and energy regulations. The sample survey, which was commissioned by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland in 2004, showed many of the 52 homes examined failed to meet minimum insulation, ventilation and safety regulations.

Just one of the properties met the minimum energy-efficiency requirements.

Construction industry officials said the findings highlighted “poor application” and should have triggered further analysis of the sector at a time when there was a considerable level of building activity.

The findings have come to light at a time of heightened concern over building regulation compliance following developments at the Priory Hall apartment complex in Dublin. Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said he had “no doubt” other defective developments existed.

The survey, obtained by green building magazine Construct Ireland,set out to “determine levels of compliance with current and previous Irish regulations” on energy performance and to map out the energy performance of Ireland’s housing stock.

An overall sample of 150 properties representing housing stock in the west, south, east, midlands and greater Dublin areas were examined, with 52 of these built between 1997 and 2002.

A report on its findings was completed in late 2005 by Dr Gerry Wardell, of City of Dublin Energy Management Agency, and Dr Kirk Shanks, now of Loughborough University.

The survey of the houses built between 1997-2002 found:

 - 93 per cent did not comply with regulations on reducing the risk of fire spread and pollution from oil storage tanks

 - 92 per cent of the houses failed to meet minimum insulation levels for water cylinders, pipes and ducts

 - 42 per cent did not meet minimum ventilation standards

The study noted a gradual reduction in energy bills in new homes up until 1996. However, the trend reversed as the level of building increased and houses built between 1997 and 2002 were found to consume 16 per cent more energy than those erected in the previous five years despite an expected decrease arising from improvements in the 1997 energy regulations.

Derek Mowlds, chairman of the Irish division of the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers, said that, although the study was carried out in 2005, the “analysis broadly stands. It illustrates poor application as opposed to poor regulations.

“If a study was undertaken in 2005 and the findings of that study could have been used as an input to improve the system, then an opportunity has been lost.”

Construct Irelandeditor Jeff Colley said 322,000 new homes had been built since the Sustainable Energy Authority received the data in 2005. “Anybody who has bought a home since then has a right to feel aggrieved that they weren’t made aware of the problems.”

A spokesman for the authority described the survey as a research study commissioned to help it in its roles in providing advice and operating energy schemes.

He said the 150-property sample was small and the issues raised in relation to compliance with building regulations had been highlighted “over many years by professional practitioner bodies and industry interests”.

A number of aspects of the findings noted in the report would have been relayed by the authority at the time to the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, he said.