Carbon tax to be introduced in Ireland?

According to reports, the commission on taxation in Ireland is to recommend a carbon tax as the first in a series of measures to change the shape of the Irish tax system.
The carbon tax which is expected to be operated in the form of an additional excise duty, is expected to be intoroduced in the annual budget in late 2009.

Building Energy Ratings (BER) will become even more important if these measures are introduced.

With the tax expected to be levied on all carbon based fuels, the insulation and energy efficiency of each home or commercial premises will have a direct effect on the amount of the carbon tax paid. Fuel consumption can be reduced by increasing the energy rating of a building.

Home Energy Grants

Now is the perfect time to avail of the home energy grants announced by the government last February to ensure you minimise your carbon tax bill. These Grants require an energy rating to be carried out by a certified BER Assessor before and after the work.  There is an additional grant of €200 available to offset some of the cost of the associated BER assessment.

Climate Change finally on US agenda

After eight years of inaction on climate change by George Bush’s White House, President Obama has made the passing of environmental legislation a top priority by setting USA on a course to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, the chief contributor to global-warming.

A key piece of legislation, that sets ambitious emissions targets for the USA, was passed a coule of weeks ago in the House of Representatives by 7 votes ( 219 v 212) and now moves to the floor of the Senate. It’s by no means a done deal but after years of talk, the USA may finally take serious steps to clean its air and cut back on importing a massive 70% of its energy.

Building energy ratings (BER) must form part of the solution if the plan is to be effective and what started in teh EU may soon be seen in across the atlantic.

BER Cert

Before you can sell or rent any building in Ireland including the family home, you are now required to have a Building Energy Rating Certificate issued for the building.

The requirement was first introduced for new houses in January 2007  that were offered for sale of rent.

Under the EU’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, from which the house will be issued with a Building Energy Rating (BER) Certificate.

The requirement for a BER assessment also applies to people who build their own homes: According to a Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI), the body that administers the EPBD in Ireland, “an assessment is also required for any self build house before the occupant moves in.”

The EU Directive requires a BER to be registered for all buildings except for a few exceptions (eg. listed buildings of outstanding architectural or historical importance and outhouses such as barns) that are offered for sale or rental. This also applies to existing rental properties on renewal of a lease or earlier if the tenant requests proof of the building’s rating.

BER Assessors to benefit from Greenloan Home Energy Scheme

Conor Lenihan, TD, Minister for Science, Technology, Innovation and Natural Resources this week officially launched the Greenloan Home Energy Savers Scheme which is a new nationwide scheme expected to generate  jobs in the clean-tech sector over the coming months.

The main focus of the scheme is to group homeowners to avail of large discounts in upgrading their properties.

Over 250 clusters comprising thousands of homeowners in all 26 counties have already been created under the scheme, which was originally piloted in 2008 as part of the pilot phase of the SEI Home Energy Saving Scheme (HES).

€50 Million

Speaking on Tuesday, Minister Lenihan stated this his “Department has made available almost €50m to the HES Scheme for 2009. This is expected to fund in excess of 30,000 home energy upgrades this year alone and generate a large amount of much needed employment in the current economic circumstances.”

“The Home Energy Saving Scheme offers a very attractive commercial opportunity for businesses that assist homeowners with completing insulation and other works under the scheme and in particular those which add value to the transaction” said the Minister.

Aidan Burke of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) welcomed the launch of the scheme saying “CIF is delighted to see the launch of this innovative scheme and sees long term benefits in funding the retrofitting of buildings and creating construction employment. The cluster approach is unique and will create all sorts of synergies of benefit to the customer and contractor alike.”

The Greenloan Scheme enables homeowners to renovate their homes in an organised cluster, save money, help protect the environment, and support Irish employment and Irish manufacturers according to the scheme administrator, Mary Stewart.

BER assessor benefits

Installations like wood pellet boilers, solar hot water systems, and attic and cavity wall insulation are included in the HES scheme which requires a BER assessor to provide a report both before and after the installation. A grant of €200 is also available toward this BER cost under the HES scheme.

Ms Stewart continued “The Greenloan Scheme is different from the SEI Home Energy Saving Scheme in that groups of local residents can form clusters. By pooling together, the costs of works are substantially reduced as bulk works are organised at significant discounts of up to 40%. The only commitment that must be made by homeowners is to have a Building Energy Rating (BER) assessment carried out on their home.”

Cluster participants can include homeowners, Architects, Engineers, Construction Workers, BER Assessors, Gardeners, Plumbers and Electricians.

According to Ms. Stewart: “In advance of carbon taxes and payments to cover the cost of carbon emissions, the Greenloan scheme is providing businesses, homeowners and landlords the ideal opportunity to upgrade their cost base in advance of these additional taxes and reduce the financial burden over the long term.”

Any new scheme that promotes additional participation in the Home energy saving scheme is guaranteed to be welcomed by BER assessors throughout the country. One Cork BER assessor that I spoke to today said that the HES is currently a lifesaver in terms of providing work so a new scheme to further promote it is very welcome.

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