BER stands for "Building Energy Rating". A BER Certificate is similar to the energy label for a household electrical appliance like your fridge. The label has a scale of A-G. A-rated homes are the most energy efficient and G the least efficient.
A BER certificate is compulsory for almost all new homes since mid 2008. If you are buying or renting a new house or apartment now, you may already be entitled to a BER.
From the 1st of January 2009 a BER certificate will be compulsory for all homes being sold or rented.
BERs will be carried out by specially trained BER assessors, registered by Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI). A list of BER Assessors is available from SEI.
This initiative has been driven by the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) with the aim of reducing demands on diminishing stocks of fossil fuels. Buildings have been identified as being the largest users of energy in the EU representing 40% of our total energy consumption. With the dedication of citizens Europe-wide, it is anticipated that we can reduce this figure by approximately 22% by 2010.
There will be no obligation on owners to upgrade existing homes in the event that their home fails to achieve a good rating. It is expected however that homes with higher ratings will be easier to dispose of and they are likely to command higher prices on the open market.
What are the BER Implementation Dates in Ireland?
The requirement to provide a BER is being introduced on a phased basis as follows:
New dwellings: The regulations apply to new dwellings for which planning permission was applied for on or after 1st January 2007. Transitional BER exemptions will apply to new dwellings for which planning permission is applied on or before 31st December 2006, where the new dwellings involved are substantially completed on or before 30th June 2008.
New Non-Domestic Buildings: The regulations apply to new non-domestic buildings for which planning permission was applied for on or after 1st July 2008. Transitional BER exemptions will apply to new non-domestic buildings for which planning permission is applied on or before 30th June 2008 provided the new non-domestic buildings involved are substantially completed by 30th June 2010.
Existing Buildings: (dwellings and other buildings) when offered for sale or letting on or after 1st January 2009.
Large Public Service Buildings: A public body shall, in relation to a large building occupied by it on or after 1 January 2009, secure and display a BER certificate in a prominent place clearly visible to the public.
How Long will a BER Remain Valid?
A BER for a building will be valid for 10 years from the date of its being issued, unless there is a material change in the building in the meantime which could affect its energy performance – for example an extension to the building, a significant change to the building fabric or a change in the heating system or fuel used.
Therefore if a property which has received a BER is placed on the market within 10 years of that BER being issued, and the property has experienced no relevant alteration in the meantime, then that same BER may be used by the building owner for the purposes of meeting their obligations under the Regulations.
What Does the BER Certificate Look Like?
BER is based on primary energy demand and the BER scale ranges from “A1” (most efficient) to “G” (least efficient). To see what each band relates to in terms of primary energy.
The scale runs from red to green with a score in the red zone representing homes that consume the most energy. Over the years, building standards have improved significantly in terms of their heat retention. For example houses built in the 1970s were frequently built with cavity blocks. Recent legislation insists that all new homes carry a minimum C1 rating.
A HER assessment will rate your home taking into consideration improvements you have made that could effect your energy usage. All new homes that comply with Building Regulations will have a minimum energy rating of C1.
Who Can Carry Out the BER?
BER assessments are carried out by registered BER assessors who have trained under the National Framework of Qualifications and have registered with SEI. A list of registered BER assessors is available from SEI.
BER assessors must meet requirements set by SEI, including the signing up to a Code of Conduct.
It is an offence for persons not registered with SEI as BER assessors to purport to carry out a BER assessment service for the purposes of the Regulations.
Who Pays the Cost of a BER Certificate?
Any fee for a BER for a dwelling will be payable by the owner (directly or through their agent) and the owner is responsible for any fees payable to the BER assessor.
Can you rate a home from the plans?
Yes. New homes are rated from plans and an advisory report is issued with the provisional energy rating indicating how the rating might be improved. Final certification is issued on the basis of latest set of plans and specifications.
Does my existing home require a BER Certificate?
Existing homes will be required to produce a BER Certificate on sale/letting from 1st Jan 2009.This will demonstrate to potential purchasers how energy efficient or otherwise, your home is. Should you wish to improve the energy efficiency of your home and thereby reduce your energy bills, you can arrange for an energy audit, to be carried out by an approved BER Assessor. This will provide you with a report outlining professional recommendations on how to save money on the cost of heating and lighting your home.
How much will my rating cost?
Charges vary depending on building size and whether it is being rated from plans for an existing building. Rates start at approx. €400 including VAT.
What is included in the Advisory Report?
The Advisory Report will give owners useful pointers in relation to improving the running costs of their homes as well as improving its marketability. These will include energy saving measures ranging from something as simple as increased usage of energy saving light bulbs to replacing an inefficient heating system. It is expected these reports will frequently focus on the need to switch off appliances completely at night, lagging boilers, insulating attic spaces, the use of time controls on heating systems and the sealing of windows/doors.