Substantial new home energy efficiency requirements have been introduced for new construction work, including house extensions.
The Réglementation Thermique 2012 (RT2012) came into force on 1st January 2013, the fruit of several years of discussions, which has brought about a sea-change in the energy performance requirements of buildings.
The standard requires that new building work attains an energy efficiency performance three times greater than the existing standard.
Henceforth, residential buildings will be required to have a primary energy consumption lower than 50 kWh/m²/year, against 150 kWh/m²/year under the current regulations RT2005.
This energy consumption threshold does vary by climatic zone, reaching a permitted limit of 65 kWh/m²/year in the North East, while it falls to 45 kWh/m²/year in the Mediterranean. In the South West the limit is 45 kWh/m²/year.
The regulations are fearsomely complex, running into over 2000 pages, with the need to undertake calculations on a number of different elements of the property.
The only way such calculations can be made will be through engaging specialist consultants using computer software programmes specifically designed for the purpose.
As part of a planning or works application, owners will now be required to undertake an energy study of their proposed new construction. The study must be submitted with the application.
On completion of the works owners will be also required to attest that the energy performance has been achieved, for which purpose a post-completion study will also need to be undertaken.
Inevitably, the costs of new construction will rise, by some estimates up to 20%, inclding the additional costs in consultants fees to prepare the energy reports.
The new regulations applies to all new planning and building works applications submitted from 1st January 2013. There is some partial exemption from the regulations for most building extensions.
As significant a change is the RT2012, in 2020 it is planned to go further, when buildings will be required to be 'energy positive', that is to say, to generate more energy than they consume.
New Energy Labels
Alongside the introduction of the new energy standard the government has made changes to the confusing range of energy efficiency certification labels.
For buildings that exceed the RT2012 standard there will now be two levels of certification: HPE (Haute Performance Energétique) and THPE (Très Haute Performance Energétique). The former requires a reduction of 10% on RT2012, while the latter a reduction of 20%.
The certification of BBC (Bâtiment Basse Consommation) will no longer be used. This standard is that which now applies under RT2012.