The anatomy of a housing
boom: The Energy Performance
Survey of Irish Housing
Jeff Colley
The Energy Performance Survey of Irish Housing
June 2004: SEI goes out to tender
“SEI invites tenders from suitably qualified
organisations or groups for the purposes of carrying
out a detailed survey of Irish housing stock to
determine both a) levels of compliance with
existing regulations governing energy conservation
and b) actual vs. theoretical energy performance.
The survey will also serve as a pilot demonstration of
potential Home Energy Rating methods in the
context of SEI’s Home Energy Rating programme.”
Tender won by Codema & DIT, working with Cork
City, Galway & Tipperary Energy Agencies
January-May 2005: surveying carried out
May 2005: first draft submitted to SEAI
The Energy Performance Survey of Irish Housing
Sample was a “representative cross-section of the
existing Irish national housing stock” (age of
construction, house type, construction type,
geographic spread & tenure of occupancy)
150 houses surveyed in total
52 post-1997 houses checked for compliance
against parts F (ventilation), J (heat producing
appliances) and L (conservation of fuel and energy)
of building regulations, and SI 260 (boiler efficiency)
The Energy Performance Survey of Irish Housing
Of the 52 houses inspected:
• no house complied with all 3 parts of buildings regulations;
• only 1 complied in full with energy efficiency standards under TGD L, but the report
claims that 85% of homes are “properly” insulated;
• 52% complied with TGD J in full;
• 93% of houses with oil boilers failed section 5 of TGD J – due to “an inadequate base”
and “absence of any lack of a barrier”;
• 29% of houses did not comply with section 1 of TGD J – CO pollution risk;
• 58% met ventilation standards under TGD F. In some cases, no background ventilation
was included, & in “a significant number of dwellings (estimated at 35% by one
surveyor) the permanent vent is stuffed up with paper or cloth”;
• 63% failed on heating controls;
• 87% failed to meet air infiltration measures;
• 92% failed to meet minimum insulation levels for water cylinders, pipes and ducts;
• 56% of boilers met the efficiency requirements of SI 260 – 100% of condensing gas
boilers, 72% of non-condensing gas boilers & 30% of non-condensing oil boilers;
• significant energy efficiency losses noted due to internal dry-lining and dormer roofs
The Energy Performance Survey of Irish Housing
But the 85% “properly” insulated claim doesn’t stand up
The Energy Performance Survey of Irish Housing
The Energy Performance Survey of Irish Housing
The Energy Performance Survey of Irish Housing
Why does any of this matter?
It’s the only report analysing compliance with building regulations (apart from a
NDA report on compliance with Part M)
Data from inspection of 12-15% of new homes hasn’t been collated into a
compliance report
Since SEAI received the 1st draft in May 2005:
• Over 93,000 houses were built in 2006, the last record year
• Priory Hall was completed (2006)
• Over 270,000 new dwellings have been built (since start of 2006)
• Over 780,000 homes built since 1997 – 39% of Ireland's entire housing stock
People buying those homes (new or 2nd hand) since mid 2005 – many in negative
equity & challenging accepted definitions of fuel poverty – had a right to know
Would some people have thought twice before buying?
The Energy Performance Survey of Irish Housing
What should have happened?
Publication of the report
Recommendations should have been acted on for:
• analysis of a larger sample (450 houses)
• more detailed analysis, including thermal comfort thresholds, ventilation,
alternative energy systems and domestic hot water systems
The Department of the Environment should have commissioned a report on
compliance with all parts (A-M) of building regulations
A meaningful building control system, including rigorous site inspections and
punitive actions, should have been introduced
The Energy Performance Survey of Irish Housing
What happened to the report?
Elements of findings presented at 3 Sebnet meetings & the IBCI & Remic
conferences, and papers given at the Solar Cities conference and submitted to
the Energy Performance of Buildings Journal
Feb 2007
Construct Ireland and Sunday Tribune articles in Jan/Feb 2007 based on
limited data gleaned from Sebnet meetings and interview
Dáil: Green TDs asked the government to publish the report
Bertie Ahern: “If Deputy Sargent is saying 98% of the new houses built in this country
are in breach of the existing guidelines, it is not true. […] It is another study of ten
houses picked by the Deputy himself.”
The Energy Performance Survey of Irish Housing
Dec 2007
Dáil: current housing minister Jan O’Sullivan asked minister Gormley if his
department had seen the report. His response: “My department has not
received a copy of the draft or final report, although it has been given access to
an extract from the executive summary of the report.”
The Energy Performance Survey of Irish Housing
Four years passed….
The Energy Performance Survey of Irish Housing
Nov 2011
SEAI to Construct Ireland: “A number of useful studies, not necessarily for publication
but often shared with stakeholders, have been commissioned to inform SEAI’s
approaches to delivering on its assigned responsibilities, including advice in relation
to techno-economic and policy development and implementation matters.”
Department of the Environment to Construct Ireland: “The department was aware of
the findings of this report through interaction with SEAI on a range of issues related
to the EPBD and TGD L but as far as we are aware at this time (6 years later) the
Department did not have any formal meetings or communications focussed
specifically on this report.”
SEAI to the Irish Examiner: “Given the nature of this particular research, it was
not appropriate nor within the remit of the project to convey the findings as
The Energy Performance Survey of Irish Housing
“Information wants to be
free” – Stuart Brand
Thank you
Jeff Colley
Ph: 01 2107513
[email protected]
Twitter: @constructirl
To view the report visit

Jeff Colley - Energy Action Ireland