Notices from SEAI relating to COVID-19 crisis

Last updated 30th June

This guidance is informed by the Government's Roadmap for reopening society and business and Return to work safely protocol.

On foot of Government guidance in respect of the COVID-19 emergency, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) is fully implementing measures to protect its employees and to help minimise the spread of the virus. All SEAI staff are now working from home and we will continue to operate the fullest levels of services possible to our clients and suppliers.

Please continue to take every precaution necessary to protect yourself, your family, your staff and the clients you interact with.

Please read specific notes below regarding SEAI programmes and activities.

18th May 2020

For the moment be assured:

  • Considering the Government’s stay at home instruction, SEAI believes that, in general, grant aided energy retrofit works, BERs for grant aided works and discretionary BERs are all not essential.
  • SEAI will continue to process all new grant applications for future works and grant payment requests for works already completed.
  • To ensure no additional impact on our valued suppliers, our accounts team will continue to process all invoices speedily, and in accordance with standard payment terms. Likewise, our procurement team will continue to issue purchase orders for all required services to facilitate ultimate payment.
  • SEAI’s Building Energy Rating administration system is fully available for assessors to upload ratings and for persons to check specific property ratings online.
  • Other regulatory aspects of our work as administration of Energy Efficiency Obligation Scheme and Market Surveillance Authority continues.
  • SEAI’s call centre remains open to answer any additional queries you may have.
  • In some instances, our client advocacy programmes and network supports are affected as a result of social distancing. However, we remain available and have already introduced alternative approaches to meet demand.
  • SEAI is not able to advise any service provider in respect of special or additional precautions to take in conducting their own business, beyond those available from the HSE.

In this current exceptional environment, we are continually reviewing our programmes to see if there are other ways by which we can assist our customers and the public in general.

Like any organisation, SEAI anticipates some reduction in capacity in the coming weeks arising from illness, isolation / quarantine requirements or other consequences of COVID-19 crisis. Unfortunately, this may result in some delays in responding to enquiries or processing transactions. Our dedicated teams will do their very best to minimise the impact for our clients and suppliers.

Please continue to take every precaution necessary to protect yourself, your family and loved ones and anyone you interact with.

From the CEO and team at SEAI.

8th June 2020

This notice is informed by the Government’s Roadmap for reopening society and business and Return to work safely protocol.

This information is for contractors, installers, suppliers and service providers undertaking activities within SEAI funded or administered schemes. This includes:

  • Home energy grants*
  • Solar PV grants
  • Deep retrofit pilot scheme
  • BER assessments**
  • Community energy grants

*Separate guidance has issued to contractors completing works under Warmer Homes and Warmth and Wellbeing schemes.

**Separate guidance has also issued to BER assessors

On foot of Government guidance in respect of the COVID-19 emergency, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) is fully implementing measures to protect its employees and to help minimise the spread of the virus. All SEAI staff are now working from home and we will continue to operate the fullest levels of services possible to our clients and suppliers.

As the wider construction sector continues to recommence operations, it is anticipated that retrofitting work will also now recommence.  SEAI grant aided works should only proceed, where a contractor has fully assessed the risks and is fully satisfied that he/she can address the risks identified and thereafter complete the works envisaged while complying fully with the guidelines set out in the Return to Work Safely Protocol. Contractors alone are responsible for undertaking a thorough risk assessment of the property and all occupants, which will minimise the risks for you, your employees, the property occupants and the wider community. The Health and Safety Authority is responsible for monitoring to ensure that workplaces comply with the National Protocol. 

SEAI further recommends:

  • Before proceeding with works, and informed by the contractor’s risk assessment, the contractor should obtain written consent to proceed with works from the homeowner / grant applicant. If any party has specific concerns relating to COVID-19 that cannot be satisfactorily addressed or managed, then works must be postponed to a later date. No party should feel pressurised or obliged to continue with works at any stage of a project or assessment.
  • Contractors should consider a holistic approach to works when deciding if a property can be fully retrofitted in accordance with Government guidance. Where contractors identify that some works must be deferred then consider deferring the entire project.
  • SEAI is not able to advise any service provider in respect of special or additional precautions to take in conducting their own business, beyond those available from the HSE and other expert authorities.
  • Here are some additional resources available to assist in planning a return to work.

SEAI will process all new grant applications for works and grant payment requests for works completed. SEAI currently expects to recommence property inspections and mandatory BERs for grant purposes, on a date to be notified after Monday 8th June, but most likely during Phase 2.

18th May 2020

SEAI will accommodate the potential impact on the solar PV scheme as follows:

2019 Applications
These installations were due to be completed by 28 February and the documentation submitted to SEAI by 31 March. We recognise that the requisite Building Energy Rating (BER) may not be completed by the end of March and so will make the following changes:

  • Please submit all installation documentation (NC6, REC Certificate 3, Commissioning documents, photos, etc.) by the 31 March
  • The BER should be submitted as soon as practicable after 31 March

2020 Applications
SEAI remains open for applications; letters of offer are valid for eight (8) months and currently do not anticipate that they will be impacted by the restrictions.

We will continue to monitor the situation and advice from the government and keep you up to date on the scheme.

If anyone has any queries, please contact us at 01-808-2100 or solarpv@seai.ie

8th June 2020

This guidance is informed by the Government's Roadmap for reopening society and business and Return to work safely protocol.

On foot of Government guidance in respect of the COVID-19 emergency, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) is fully implementing measures to protect its employees and to help minimise the spread of the virus. All SEAI staff are now working from home and we will continue to operate the fullest levels of services possible to our clients and suppliers.

As the wider construction sector continues to recommence operations, it is anticipated that retrofitting work will also now recommence.  BER surveys should only proceed, where an assessor has fully assessed the risks and is fully satisfied that he/she can address the risks identified and thereafter complete the survey envisaged, while complying fully with the guidelines set out in the Return to Work Safely Protocol. BER assessors alone are responsible for undertaking a thorough risk assessment of the property and all occupants, which will minimise the risks for you, your employees, the property occupants and the wider community. The Health and Safety Authority is responsible for monitoring to ensure that workplaces comply with the National Protocol.

SEAI further recommends:

  • Before proceeding with a BER survey, and informed by the BER Assessor’s risk assessment, the Assessor should obtain written consent to proceed with the BER from the homeowner / property owner. If any party has specific concerns relating to COVID-19 that cannot be satisfactorily addressed or managed, then the BER must be postponed to a later date. No party should feel pressurised or obliged to continue with an assessment.
  • SEAI is not able to advise BER assessors in respect of special or additional precautions to take in conducting their own business, beyond those available from the HSE and other expert authorities.
  • Here are some additional resources available to assist in planning a return to work.

BER Assessments for Grant Claims

Previously SEAI temporarily suspended requirements to furnish a valid BER at time of grant claim. SEAI already has in place appropriate alternative governance controls. SEAI anticipates reinstating these requirements on a date to be notified after Monday 8th June, but most likely during Phase 2.

BERs required for property conveyancing / transactions

A BER is required for all buildings being offered for sale or let, unless the building type is exempted as defined in SI 243 of 2012. The guidance contained in the Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business applies to carrying out BERs for property conveyancing/transactions.

BER Assessor Exam

Prometric Test Centres have advised they will be reopening from the 8th of June. We have been advised there will be a reduction in capacity within the Exam Centres over the coming months as a result of implementing the HSE’s social distancing guidelines.

In light of this reduced capacity, and in recognition of the restrictions still in place in relation to reducing the spread of and exposure to Covid19, SEAI will extend exam renewal dates to the 31st of October for all assessors who currently have an exam renewal date between 1st January 2020 and 31st of August 2020, and have yet to sit their exam.

All assessors with an exam renewal date within this timeframe will receive an email confirmation that their exam date has been extended. This renewal date extension will apply to both domestic and non-domestic exam renewal dates.

BER assessors can choose to proceed with their exam date as scheduled, or reschedule their exam date as follows:

In the event that your exam should need to be rescheduled in order to adhere with social distancing guidelines, Prometric will contact you directly. Currently there is no charge for rescheduling exam dates.

Exam Centres Protocols
We have been advised that additional measures will be taken in testing centres to ensure HSE guidance is followed, including safe social distancing between candidates and staff. Full details of these measures are available here.

  • Candidates will have the option to wear gloves and/or a face covering while testing in the test centre, however these must be brought with you to the test centre. Face masks/covering, or gloves will not be provided in the test centre.  You will be asked to safely remove the mask to verify your identity as part of the check in procedure.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available in the test centre, and all workstations, lockers and any areas that candidates are in contact with, will be wiped down after each candidate to ensure cleanliness of the test centre and individual workstations. 

If any candidates are experiencing any of the below symptoms, please let Prometric know by calling 042 682 5678 in advance of the scheduled exam date and they will work with candidates to reschedule their exam free of charge.

  • They have a confirmed current case of COVID19 or,
  • Are experiencing signs or symptoms of COVID19 or,
  • Have been advised by the HSE or medical professional to self-isolate or,
  •  “I am currently feeling unwell”

Updates to the Domestic BER Exam

The Domestic BER Exam will be updated on the 18th August 2020.

The updated exam will take into account the DEAP 4 methodology changes and TDG Part L 2019. There will be no change to the format of the exam. Further information with regards to the exam update will be provided in the upcoming Domestic BER Newsletter.

To facilitate the update of the exam, there will be a black out period from the 10th to the 17th of August 2020 where BER assessors will be unable to book a domestic exam date. If you have an exam booked within this time period, Prometric will be in touch directly to reschedule your exam.

Auditing

All audits will proceed as desk audits until further notice. Where you have a specific difficulty in completing an audit, you can contact your auditor to discuss alternative arrangements.

BER Systems

SEAI’s online systems will continue to be available to facilitate the publication of BERs by assessors and making them available online for property transaction / conveyancing purposes.

BER queries

We are continuing to operate our helpdesk as usual and can respond to any questions you may have.

Please continue to take every precaution necessary to protect yourself, your staff and your clients. Should you have any queries on any of the above guidance, please don’t hesitate to contact the BER helpdesk.

Best regards,

SEAI BER Team

18th May 2020

We are already hearing how the crisis is impacting on the research and innovation community nationally and internationally. We understand that there may be unavoidable impacts and delays to SEAI supported research and innovation projects. In such cases SEAI will try to work pragmatically and practically with you to offer flexibility on a case-by-case basis in relation to the following items:

  • Deadlines for technical and financial progress reporting: The most recent reporting deadline was the end of February 2020. Payments are currently being processed for all awardees based on the technical and financial progress reports submitted. The next financial progress report/claim deadline will be the 31 August 2020. We encourage projects with upcoming project completion deadlines or other concerns to please contact us with any queries. In advance of the next financial progress report/claim deadline, to support organisations that are experiencing cashflow issues SEAI is temporarily facilitating more frequent financial reporting. Please contact us on email below if you wish to avail of this.
  • No-cost Time Extensions: No-cost time extensions will be offered on a flexible case-by-case basis. Please refer to the Grant Amendment Request Form for details of how to request a no-cost time extension – available to download in the Programme Documents section of our website here.
  • Project Cost Category Reallocations: please refer to the above Grant Amendment Request Form for details of how to request a reallocation.
  • Restructuring of project milestones or deliverables and associated timelines: Proposed restructuring can be detailed and requested within your next financial progress report in August 2020.

We are available to answer any queries you may have on the above via email to EnergyResearch@seai.ie or directly with your known project contact point in the SEAI RD&D team. We will do our best to respond as quickly as possible and can speak with you over the phone if helpful.

Please also refer to the SEAI website for any further updates.

Best wishes,
The SEAI RD&D Funding Programme Team

30th June 2020

This guidance is informed by the Government's Roadmap for reopening society and business and Return to work safely protocol.

SEAI has engaged directly with our panel of retrofit contractors providing services on the Warmer Homes Scheme and we have agreed protocols for resumption of works on homes categorised as LOWER RISK, subject to homeowner consent.

For the moment, all works on ALL homes allocated under the Warmth and Wellbeing Scheme remain postponed until further notice from SEAI.

SEAI grant aided works should only proceed, where a contractor has fully assessed the risks and is fully satisfied that he/she can address the risks identified and thereafter complete the works envisaged while complying fully with the guidelines set out in the Return to Work Safely Protocol. Contractors alone are responsible for undertaking a thorough risk assessment of the property and all occupants, which will minimise the risks for you, your employees, the property occupants and the wider community. The Health and Safety Authority is responsible for monitoring to ensure that workplaces comply with the National Protocol.

In the situation that retrofit works have commenced, it is the contractor’s responsibility to ensure that the property is left in a safe and habitable state. SEAI is not able to advise any service provider in respect of special or additional precautions to take in conducting their own business, beyond those available from the HSE.

Please continue to take every precaution necessary to protect yourself, your staff and your clients. Should you have any queries on any of the above guidance, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Please note, additional contractor guidance, not specific to the above programmes, is also available now on SEAI’s website.

 

 

18th May 2020

Dear SEAI ocean prototype development fund awardee,

On foot Government guidance in respect of the COVID-19 emergency, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) is fully implementing measures to protect its employees and to help minimise the spread of the virus. All SEAI staff are now working from home and we will continue to operate the fullest levels of services possible to our clients and suppliers.

We understand that there may be unavoidable impacts and delays to SEAI supported ocean energy research projects. In such cases SEAI will try to work pragmatically and practically with you to offer flexibility on a case-by-case basis in relation to the following items:

  • Time Extensions: Time extensions will be offered on a flexible case-by-case basis. The grant amendment request form is available on request. Please email Ocean.Energy@seai.ie if you require a form.
  • Project Cost Category Reallocations: As per above, please request the Grant Amendment Request Form for cost reallocation.
  • Restructuring of project milestones or deliverables and associated timelines: Proposed restructuring can be detailed and requested within your progress report.

Please note that increase in project cost will not be considered as part of this amendment process. All change requests must be within original budget envelope of your project.

We are available to answer any queries you may have on the above via email to Ocean.Energy@seai.ie or directly with your known project contact point in the SEAI Ocean team. We will do our best to respond as quickly as possible and can speak with you over the phone if helpful.

Please also refer to the SEAI website for any further updates.

Best wishes,

The SEAI Ocean Team