Over the past year cold snaps, heat waves and severe storms have all brought the reality of the climate crisis home to the UK and Ireland. But with the climate changing in fast and uncertain ways, how can we construct buildings that will remain resilient — and keep their occupants healthy and comfortable — long into the future?
Assessment of thermal bridges is the low hanging fruit lining the path to passive house and low-energy building, according to leading thermal modeller Andy Lundberg of Passivate, who says that taking the time to understand thermal bridging and to minimise and calculate it properly is essential to delivering cost optimal low energy buildings without an Achilles heel.
Almost a decade after the economic crash, every political party in Ireland now recognises the country is in the middle of a full-blown housing crisis. Similar problems exist in the UK market, but for different reasons. Now, if the political will to fix things has finally arrived, the question remains — what can actually be done about it?
The gradual decarbonisation of our electricity grids — as renewable energy is phased in, while coal and peat are phased out — coupled with the proliferation of new buildings with very limited heat demand, has some experts asking if heating our homes and offices directly with electricity is starting to make sense again. So is it time to bring back the dreaded storage heater?
For a while now, schemes that aim to encourage the mass uptake of home energy upgrades — essential for cutting carbon emissions from our building stock — have tended to fall into two camps: those that focus on shallow measures like cavity wall insulation and new boilers, and deep retrofit like the Passive House Institute’s Enerphit standard. A new Irish retrofit scheme aims to point the way forward by bridging the gap between these two extremes.
Ten years ago Brussels had some of the most energy inefficient building stock in Europe — now it boasts a groundbreaking policy that means all new buildings in the region must be passive. How did the city do it?
The attempts to derail Dublin City Council’s proposed ‘passive house or equivalent’ planning requirement are bad news in the increasingly difficult fight to mitigate against and adapt to climate change – they risk being complicit in new buildings in the city breaching European law.
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown’s passive house policy also leaves the door open for alternative approaches, provided their equivalence can be demonstrated. But what does this mean?
Thanks to fabric-first energy performance approaches such as passive house, heating demand is collapsing. So how does district heating stack up in buildings which need such little heat?
There was a time when governments thought that simply offering grants for cavity wall insulation and heating system upgrades would be enough to stimulate mass upgrade of our building stock. But ‘shallow’ measures such as these may not be sufficient to drastically cut carbon emissions and make a real difference to occupant comfort and health, and convincing homeowners to upgrade their homes to a much higher standard will require a clever mix of psychology and smart financing
Dublin is on the verge of taking a giant leap forward for construction, with two major authorities in the region set to make the passive house standard mandatory for new buildings. Can Ireland’s mainstream building sector rise to this challenge, and what can it learn from experience of big passive house projects across the water in the UK?
The latest versions of PHPP and designPH are intended to make passive house design both easier and more accurate than ever before — and to plan for a future powered by renewable energy. Jan Steiger of the Passive House Institute explains the latest features of both software packages.
The Energiesprong initiative is planning to deliver drastic energy upgrades to over 100,000 homes in the Netherlands using a wildly ambitious approach to retrofitting the country’s building stock. Now the organisation has moved to the UK, where it is hoping to undertake its first projects next year.
As the climates gets warmer, overheating in buildings is likely to get worse — particularly given the modern architectural preference for huge expanses of unshaded glass. But what really causes overheating, is it really worse in low energy buildings, how do passive houses fare, and what can be done to prevent it?
For decades now, European countries have been regulating the amount of energy new buildings can consume for heating and electricity. But as these standards get ever tighter, is time to start controlling the embodied energy and wider environmental impact of building materials — and what’s the best way to do it?
The Tory government's decision to scrap the proposed zero carbon standard for new dwellings might appear to be a kick in the teeth for green building — but could the move present an opportunity for a better standard to step in?
As previously revealed in Passive House Plus, the evidence appears to indicate that natural ventilation systems don’t adequately ventilate our homes. But does mechanical ventilation perform any better?
Low energy building isn’t complicated, but it’s easy to get wrong. Since Irish house builders downed tools en masse when the last boom ended, energy efficiency standards for new homes have seen unprecedented rises of 40% in 2008 and 60% in 2011, shooting far ahead of the UK. But with signs of a new boom emerging, can the industry get to grips with this brave new world of insulation, airtightness and thermal bridging and deliver healthy low-energy homes — or are damp and mould set to become the norm in new build?
The Passive House Institute’s announcement of new classes of passive house certification – including renewable energy generation – at this year’s International Passive House Conference caused something of a stir. Dr Benjamin Krick, the institute’s head of component certification sheds some light on the new classes and explains the rationale behind proposals which may set up passive house for a fabric first approach to near – and sub – zero energy building.
A building’s airtightness test result isn’t just an indicator of its energy efficiency – it’s an unambiguous indicator of build quality. With a little care in design and on site, airtightness targets that may seem impossibly tough are anything but, argues leading architect and certified passive house designer Simon McGuinness.
It’s sometimes said to be hard – perhaps too hard – to get a small house to meet the passive house standard. But a small house will have small heating bills, so why is it hard for a small house to be a passive house? Leading passive house consultants Alan Clarke and Nick Grant delve into the passive house software to find out what’s going on.
Such is the importance of ventilation, it’s only right and proper that the efficacy of innovative mechanical solutions such as heat recovery ventilation and demand controlled mechanical extract ventilation is established
based on robust, comprehensive evidence. But how does natural ventilation fare when subjected to the same degree of scrutiny, and can it work in low energy buildings?
Passive house is no longer just the preserve of the self-builder. With over 300 passive houses built to date in multi unit-schemes and a thousand more on the way – along with major non-domestic builds – increasing numbers of British & Irish developers are going passive. But how will the sector cope with upscaling, and will the most cost-conscious developers be attracted to the standard?