• Evolusion Innovation

Your Quick Introduction to nZEB 2019

Updated: Feb 2, 2019


Let's start by clarifying what nZEB actually means; TGD L 2017 states as follows:

“Nearly Zero Energy Building means a building that has a very high energy performance, as determined in accordance with Annex I to Directive 2010/31/EU of the European Parliament and the Council of 19 May 2010 on the energy performance of buildings (recast)(O.J. No. L 153, 18.6.2010, page 13). 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.”

And regarding how nZEB can be achieved, the TGD states:

“The Nearly Zero Energy Building definition as defined in Article 9 of the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive Recast (EPBD Recast) 2010/31/EU of 19th May 2010 will be achieved by following the energy and related Carbon Dioxide emissions performance and energy contribution from renewable sources guidance set out in this document.”

nZEB has been on the radar of the Irish construction industry since 2010. However, the lack of clarity and urgency around these targets coincided with an environment of uncertain recovery. As a result, we are now at the stage where nZEB is here, yet the industry remains unaware of its impact on the design and build process in 2019. Of course, this is not just going to impact on the building designers and the contractors, it will also impact on product manufacturers, suppliers and trades.


The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) seeks to ensure that by 2021, all buildings irrespective of age or use, will perform at nZEB standards. There are significant levels of complexity involved in achieving nZEB compliance given that targets differ for residential and commercial buildings, and depending upon whether it is a newly built or existing building.


As of 1st January 2019, all public buildings must be nZEB compliant. This means that if any part of the development is to be occupied by a state agency, the building must meet the relevant nZEB standard. The targets for nZEB compliance in the Republic of Ireland lies in the range of 60 to 338 kWh/(m2year) of net primary energy for commercial buildings (from TGD-L 2017, https://www.igbc.ie/nzeb/).


For new dwellings, the NZEB standard will be equivalent to an approximate 70% improvement in energy performance compared to the 2005 Building Regulations requirements, demonstrating how far we have progressed in terms of primary energy use and carbon emissions. Key changes to Part L for NZEB compliance include a Maximum Permitted Energy Performance Coefficient (MPEPC) of 0.3, a Maximum Permitted Carbon Performance Coefficient (MPCPC) of 0.35, and a renewable energy ratio of 20%.


This is a game changer. What was a target is now a statutory requirement and our experiences on the ground tell us that the industry is simply not adequately prepared. There is significant upskilling required and this is going to be a major challenge. Bluntly, the industry appears to have missed this despite the fact that Government cannot take a lease on a building from 1st January 2020 unless it is nZEB compliant and this will be true for every leased commercial building completed by 2021. This is significant as these buildings can take years to design and build. Our Building Physics department is helping design and build teams to achieve this and to demonstrate compliance through Non-Domestic Energy Assessment Procedure (NEAP) methodology, Domestic Energy Assessment Procedure (DEAP) and Dynamic Simulation Modelling (DSM).


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