World class passive social housing

Simultaneously tackling fuel poverty and climate change requires drastic action on deep retrofitting the existing housing stock – and fast. Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown’s deep retrofit and renovation of Rochestown House may be Ireland’s most significant retrofit to date – a fact reflected in the project picking up the sustainability award at the 2017 Irish Architecture Awards.

The PH+ guide to Thermal Breaks

Building physics take no prisoners. Anyone designing, constructing or upgrading the thermal envelope of a building to modern energy performance levels is duty bound to understand and minimise thermal bridging, or suffer the consequences. One-man thermal bridging encyclopaedia Andrew Lundberg of Passivate, who teaches thermal bridging analysis at Dublin Institute of Technology, gives some practical advice on why and how to tackle thermal bridging head on, and describes some of the leading innovations in thermally broken components.

Heat pump grants - what you need to know

As of 16 April, owners of pre 2011 Irish homes are now eligible for generous grants to retrofit heat pumps, and in so doing help to create comfortable, economical, low carbon homes. But what’s the thinking behind the scheme, and what results can participating homeowners expect?

Life in an air-heated passive house - Five years on

Homeowner Brendan Murphy started self-building his Cork passive house way back in 2010, long before the standard was trendy, and even chose to completely forgo a water-based heating system. So what did he learn from the experience — and how has the house been performing since?

Radical retrofit transforms Pennines historic barn

This ambitious experimental retrofit of a Victorian barn high in the hills of West Yorkshire has turned a cavernous, draughty space into a comfortable low energy period home — and cut its heating bills by over 80%.

Suffolk eco home embraces wood & warmth

This cellulose-filled timber frame house in the Suffolk countryside combines a rustic timber aesthetic with a simple contemporary form to rest lightly on the land.

The PH+ guide to External Insulation

In the first in a new series of technical articles on some of the key technologies in sustainable building, John Hearne makes the case for wrapping buildings in an external insulation layer, and describes some of the main issues to watch out for.

North Dublin sheltered scheme makes A1 breakthrough

The first social housing scheme of any kind to top Ireland’s BER scale, this project is a timely reminder that in the midst of a national housing emergency, it is possible to tackle climate change and blitz the forthcoming nearly zero energy building targets, while housing the most vulnerable in society in healthy, fuel poverty-proof homes predicted to incur zero heating cost.

Dublin boiler house reborn as green building exemplar

If the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra has a built embodiment, it’s arguably the recently completed Rediscovery Centre in Ballymun, Dublin – a 1960s boiler house for a much maligned early district heating system that’s been transformed into a sustainability education centre, and that makes use of a remarkably large palette of green materials and sustainable technologies.

A1 passive house overcomes tight Cork City site

Designing a dwelling to take advantage of the sun’s free heat is a big part of what makes a passive house passive. So how do you meet the low energy standard when your narrow site faces away from the sun and is overshadowed by neighbouring houses and trees, while simultaneously hitting an A1 building energy rating – and with a stunning, architecturally expressive design?

Our passive journey #7: Is our proposed house too big?

An oversized passive house may be no more sustainable than a correctly sized house built to a more modest spec. In the latest instalment of her journey to build a passive family home, Nessa Duggan finds that visiting some real passive houses may force a change in approach regarding size and complexity, with potentially significant cost benefits.

South London scheme delivers better health for residents

A sensitive development of social housing in Lambeth combines three new passive houses with six low energy flats delicately constructed inside an old Victorian terrace — and with the emphasis on good indoor air quality, residents are already reporting improvements in health & well-being since moving from their old accommodation.

Larch-clad passive house inspired by a venn diagram.

With an intricate design based on the concept of two pitched-roof sections that overlap, this eye-catching timberframed Sussex home proves you can meet the passive house standard with just about any shape.

Timber & Straw passive house is a world first

Built with a timber frame insulated with straw-bale, and featuring an extensive suite of ecological and recycled materials, this stunning North Yorkshire home also produces more energy than it consumes, making it the first straw-bale building in the world to reach the brand new ‘passive house plus’ standard.

Our passive journey #6 - preparing to tender

In the sixth report on her journey to self-build a passive house, Nessa Duggan struggles to reconcile glazing functionality and thermal performance, takes conflicting advice on heating and ventilation, and reaches some decisions on joinery.

The house that costs €70 a year to heat

Designed around an existing timber chalet, this striking contemporary house managed to go passive on a budget for one lucky family of six, all while inadvertently blitzing Ireland’s forthcoming nearly zero energy building standard.

Grenfell Tower - How did it happen?

Investigations may eventually confirm the specifics of how the fire at the West London tower block spread so catastrophically on the night of 14 June, but the government and construction industry faces much deeper questions about whether a culture of deregulation, cost-cutting and buck-passing turned what should have been a small, inconsequential fire into a national tragedy.

Active learning at Aberdeen passive nursery

A brand new passive-certified nursery at the University of Aberdeen provides the children of staff and students with a bright, warm and healthy space for learning and playing.

A green builder's dream green home

This is what you get when one of Ireland’s most experienced low energy builders creates a home for his own family, with help from one of the country’s foremost ecological architects — a modern and elegant passive house that pays detailed attention to sustainability at every turn.

Ireland’s largest passive house scheme shows way to nZEB

At a time when the industry’s under increasing pressure to deliver cost-effective, robust, low energy homes at breakneck speed, one new west Dublin project is leading the way – while picking off sustainability targets for fun.

Out of control? Are building control systems properly equipped to deliver safe, healthy and well-constructed buildings?

After a litany of dangerous and high profile building failures in Ireland, many in the country’s building industry looked longingly across the Irish Sea and held up the UK as an example of how to do building control properly. But following a series of embarrassing defects with UK construction projects, it’s clear the British system is far from perfect. So is either of these building control systems properly equipped to deliver safe, healthy and well-constructed buildings?