Circulation & readership: our approach explained

Circulation and readership aren’t the same thing, though some people conflate them.

Circulation’s easy to measure – if you’re willing to subject your magazine to the scrutiny of independent auditing – but readership’s another matter. So let’s deal with circulation first.

Treehouses for grown-ups

Who wouldn't love a treehouse to escape to, whatever your age? Seen as a way to combine modern living with design that fits neatly in its landscape, architect-designed treehouses seem to be all the rage right now - whether as secluded escapes or permanent residences.

Why Construct Ireland is becoming Passive House Plus

We’ve just published the final issue of Construct Ireland. I say those words not with despondency but with excitement. Mercifully, we haven’t fallen victim to the decline of the construction industry, like so many other construction magazines. Nor are we suffering the fate anticipated for so many magazine titles, with collapses in sales, subscriptions and advertising revenue from print versions not being countered by sufficient income from websites or apps.

Meeting Part L compliance with solar electricity in apartments and large houses

Using solar thermal systems to meet the Part L renewable energy requirement in apartment blocks can be problematic. Long pipe runs in apartment blocks drastically reduce the efficiency and increase the cost of installation. Unoccupied dwellings have overheating problems, and the entire system requires regular maintenance. Photovoltaic systems suffer none of these disadvantages, and are simple and quick to install.

76% of new builds go passive or near passive

Over three out of four domestic new build enquiries to Construct Ireland are from people aiming for certified passive or near passive standards, the latest data from our reader enquiry service reveals.

The enquiry system connects readers looking to build or upgrade with the sustainable product and service providers who advertise in the latest issue of Construct Ireland.

Tiny homes: a documentary

Hey everyone, check out this trailer for Tiny, a documentary about "one man’s attempt to build a tiny house from scratch in the mountains of Colorado".  According to its website, the film is a "a meditation on the relationship of home to environment". It's set to be released later this summer. I blogged about the small house movement before here.


Central Bank pay double for Anglo site, green regenerative proposal shunned


The Central Bank's reported €8m bid for the site on which the defunct Anglo Irish Bank's ghost HQ sits may be double the market value, it has been claimed.

Architect Paschal Mahoney – who is heading up the innovative Trees on the Quays proposal to create a landmark vertical park from the iconic concrete shell for the Anglo HQ – had an independent valuation of the site done as part of a proposal to turn the defunct structure into a symbol and catalyst of Ireland's regeneration.

"I've heard from several sources that people have valued it and the price the Central Bank are offering may be about twice the actual value," Mahoney told Construct Ireland. "We've had it independently valued too. The price being offered is almost twice what the valuers have told us its worth. The taxpayer would be paying €8m for something we already own."

Are local authorities ignoring government BER advice?

Construct Ireland this week wrote to every local authority in the country to ask whether they follow Department of Environment advice to request building energy rating calculations at an early stage in the construction of every dwelling. The advice is designed to help ensure homes comply with Part L of the building regulations, which deal with energy efficiency.

Last year, the department told Construct Ireland that only eleven of the country's local authorities follow this "best practice", which was suggested in a circular letter sent out by department officials in 2009. The letter read:

"There is a possibility that some completed dwellings with be found by Building Control Officers (BCOs) to be non-compliant with Part L. This presents a practical difficulty in that remedial action may be difficult and expensive to achieve. In order to avoid such a situation, it is considered that best practice from an enforcement point of view would be for BCOs to ask for the Deap calculations at an early stage in the construction process. It will be readily apparent from the Deap calculations as to whether the design of the proposed building is fully compliant with Part L."

Ireland's septic tanks — net zero NY campus — thumbs down to white roofs?

Hi all, it's been a ridiculously long time since I've updated the  blog for various reasons, sorry about that. More normal service should resume now. Here's a few interesting links to get things kick-started again. 

What lies beneath — Ireland's septic tanks Ireland After Nama

Activity map of Ireland's unfinished estates, 2011 Ireland After Nama

Fibreglass company threatens to sue blogger (interesting story) Green Building Advisor

Top ten air leaks in existing homes Green Building Advisor

A net zero energy campus in New York city Green Building Advisor

Bigger houses, smaller energy bills: can it be done? Reuters

In the US, the energy efficiency of a house could soon be factored into a home's value Los Angeles Times

Plans to combat global warming by painting roofs white could backfire Guardian

Solar Decathlon kicks off — a school built from plastic bottles — the best green building blogs

Here's our semi-regular round up of links that might be of interest. Have a good weekend everyone. 

The 2011 Solar Decathlon — which challenges US university teams to build solar-powered homes over a week — is under way. Follow their blog and Twitter updates. Here's a video tour of just one of the projects.

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Building a school from plastic bottles for $10,000

Is green building really for everyone? Green Building Advisor

Do hybrid solar thermal-PV panels increase efficiency? Jetson Green

The cost of solar PV technology continues to drop Jetson Green

Seven green building blogs you should be reading Centre for Alternative Technology

Timber frame self build: an empowering journey in sustainable building skills Centre for Alternative Technology

Thoughts on a sustainable human ecosystem The Oil Drum

Peak oil — now or later? Energy Bulletin

Is this "zero net energy home" a model for mainstream housing in the future? Treehugger

Weather compensation in gas boilers

Heating expert Des Flynn of RVR outlines the importance of weather compensation in boiler systems.

Weather compensation is a control strategy which is used to adjust the heat output of a boiler in proportion to the outdoor air temperature. This is generally implemented by adjusting the setpoint of the central heating flow temperature so that the flow temperature increases as the outdoor air temperature decreases. This is shown in the following graph.

Heating systems are designed for worst case weather conditions. In Ireland the outside design temperature will be between -3ºC and -10ºC depending on the location. The central heating flow temperature required at the design temperature is usually about 80ºC.

However the average outside air temperature during the heating season is much higher than this. In most locations it is about 8ºC. Under these average conditions the higher central heating flow temperature is not required.

The weather compensation system monitors the outside air temperature and adjusts the central heating flow temperature accordingly.

Flow water temperatures are kept as low as possible resulting in higher system efficiencies. There is a particular benefit when weather compensation is used with condensing gas boilers as the efficiency of the boiler is greatly increased.

The efficiency of a condensing boiler is dependant on the return water temperature. The lower the return water temperature the more efficient the boiler.

When the combustion products are below their dew point of about 55ºC, the boiler is in condensing mode and its’ efficiency increases almost exponentially. Weather compensation is of advantage in systems where high temperature heat emitters such as radiators are used as it allows the system temperature to decrease sufficiently for the boiler to condense.

A boiler which heats radiators and is not fitted with weather compensation will rarely be in condensing mode and will have a much lower efficiency than a boiler which does.

Comfort is also enhanced as the output of the Central Heating system automatically adapts itself to the weather conditions. This results in a reduction in ON/OFF cycles of the boiler.

An important aspect of weather compensation is ensuring that any hot water demand is satisfied at a higher temperature if the boiler is running in weather compensated mode.  As domestic hot water is usually heated to 60ºC, high temperature boiler water is needed to do this. To allow this, boilers can use a feature called “Hot water priority”.  This is achieved by having separate flow and return pipes for the central heating and the domestic water heating tank.  When there is a demand for hot water heating from a water heater thermostat or sensor the boiler diverts the flow to the water heating tank, gives priority to hot water heating and raises its flow temperature to 80ºC until the hot water demand is satisfied.

Straw bale housing — demolishing unfinished estates — tribute to green pioneer Ray Anderson

Here's a round up of some green building and energy links that might be of interest. Busy at work here on the new issue of the mag — a passive house special edition, which goes to print early next week.

Straw houses baling out council building plans in the UK Guardian (with images here)

Demolishing Ireland's unfinished estates Ireland After Nama

Controversy brewing: the German Passivhaus Institut disowns its US satellite Green Building Advisor (more here)

Profile of the "ultra green" Zero Cottage in  California Jetson Green

Insulating old brick buildings Green Building Advisor

A green roof evolves at the Museum of London Treehugger

Why the US Energy Information Administration's analysis of peak oil is flawed Energy Bulletin

Leading green architect Michelle Kaufmann remembers sustainability pioneer and entrepreneur Ray Anderson, who died on 8 August

Solar Decathlon 2011 just around the corner

The 2011 US Solar Decathlon — which challenges university teams of architects, engineers and students to design houses powered by the sun — kicks off on September 22 this year. Below is a video walkthrough of the design from one of the competing institutions, Appalachian State University. You can check out video walkthroughs for all the projects here, read about them all here, and get regular updates on Facebook and Twitter too. Construct Ireland previously took a detailed look at some of the buildings that competed in the 2009 US Solar Decathlon. 

The first ever European Solar Decathlon was held in Madrid last year, with an American college emerging as the winner. We also published an extensive profile of one of the entrants to that competition, the Nottingham House, in the magazine. 

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Oil price shock coming? — mapping Ireland's empty houses — passive house boom

Here's our usual round up of interesting links — have a good weekend everyone. The new issue of the mag goes to print next week. 

Buried Treasure — a look at former Man United captain Gary Neville's underground house Michelle Kaufmann

Brace yourselves for the next oil price shock Energy Bulletin

Would you like to cover your house in "solar ivy"? Inhabitat

School built in four weeks from recycled shipping containers following earthquake Treehugger

Where are most of Ireland's vacant houses? Ireland After Nama

Advisers say UK government should force energy companies to insulate homes Guardian

Are these the top ten green building products of 2011? Jetson Green

Eight reasons for the growth of the passive house standard Jetson Green

Building a low embodied energy house

We're busy at work on the new issue, hence the lack of updates, but to keep things ticking over here's an interesting Ted talk looking the kind of choices green builders and designers face when it comes to the environmental impact of construction materials. 

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