Building Energy Rating, or BER, is now a reality for most new buildings, and will be a requirement for all existing buildings offered for sale, rent or lease from January 2009. But, to ensure that this reality can be managed, Sustainable Energy Ireland has stated that Ireland needs up to 2,000 qualified BER assessors. There are currently 729 registered BER assessors countrywide.
This should be welcome news for people working in the construction or engineering fields who are finding that the slowdown in the property market has left them with few enough options for work. But to become a BER assessor, it is first necessary to undertake the requisite training.
Chevron Training has responded to this need by quickly becoming the largest BER training provider in Ireland, doing significantly more business than the combined work of its competitors. Chevron Training the only specifically dedicated energy training provider in the country, offering a full suite of courses from BER to renewable energy installation, air pressure testing and thermal imaging.
In building its capacity as the largest BER training provider, Chevron Training developed a FETAC accredited, Sustainable Energy Ireland listed and Engineers Ireland approved programme which is delivered both on-line and in classrooms across all 26 counties.
"We wanted to offer the most comprehensive BER course that was convenient to everybody," said Karl Fitzpatrick, Director of Chevron Training.
There are a number of differences between the Chevron Training course and programmes offered by other BER training providers. Firstly, Chevron Training's course covers all 65 elements that participants need to know in order to pass their BER exam. Other providers may offer shorter courses covering only some of these elements in the classroom, with further learning required to be undertaken outside the classroom by the participant themselves.
Secondly, Chevron's trainers are the most qualified in the country, with all trainers holding at the least an Honours Degree in an engineering-related discipline. They also hold a national FAS train the trainer qualification, and have a minimum of three years training experience, most of whom from a third level institution.
The initial Chevron Training course lasts for five days in the classroom, and will cover all the skills required to become a new dwellings BER assessor. An examination is then taken, leading to a FETAC Level 6 Certificate as a BER Assessor.
This is then followed at a later date by a further two days in the classroom, which covers SEI's "existing dwellings" element of becoming a BER assessor. Programmes are also available on-line, where they must be completed within two months.
"We currently experience above 80% success rates in the exams," said Fitzpatrick. "But we have a policy here that, if anyone fails the exams, they are offered the opportunity to repeat the entire course free-of-charge, with only a small administration fee required to retake the examinations."
Upon graduation, students can register with SEI to become independent BER assessors. From January 2009, assessors will be able to source assessment work from auctioneers, letting agents, architects, engineers, quantity surveyors, builders and developers. Assessors can also take the opportunity to partner with SEI as part of its Home Energy Saving Scheme, which is a €100 million scheme that offers grants to between 40,000 and 50,000 households – where part of the requirement is for householders a to have a BER assessment undertaken.
As an added service, assessors who have qualified through Chevron Training will not be left to fend for themselves in the big world. To this end, Chevron Training has created a comprehensive after-care package, including a monthly newsletter keeping its graduates up-to-date with any regulatory or legislative changes in this new discipline. BER graduates also qualify for reduced fees on any of Chevron Training's many other courses in the energy field.