The Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA) has appealed directly to the Chair of the Committee for Finance, Dr Steve Aiken MLA, asking the committee not to act “as a brake” on the implementation of new guidance which will bring Northern Ireland into line with Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) regulations.
The letter to Mr Aiken calls on the committee to endorse the preferred option set out in the recent consultation, to which RSUA submitted an official response, and which would require NZEB buildings to better the current Target Emissions Rate (TER) outputs by 40% in the case of new houses, stating “this uplift is achievable today”.
The letter also details how emissions from home heating in Northern Ireland are practically the same now as they were 20 years ago and classifies the proposed changes as “the absolute minimum step that could be taken at this stage”.
Further significant advances will be required over the coming years to address the climate challenge. The current spiralling cost of home heating just goes to highlight the importance of building homes now that have a low heating demand.
RSUA is also seeking measures to be put in place to assist the wider construction industry during the implementation phase of this guidance. Including:
- A protocol to fast track changes to planning permissions to enable buildings to meet the new technical guidance.
- Sufficient financial support for housing associations to meet the costs of any redesigning required or additional capital costs associated with meeting the new technical guidance in the short term
- Government support for upskilling across the sector