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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

Our passive journey #5: Getting the right advice

In the fifth instalment of her column on designing and building a passive house for her family, Nessa Duggan talks about the importance of getting good advice — on everything from airtight sliding doors down to your choice of timber flooring.

Together in Electric Dreams

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?

18th century ruin becomes stylish low-energy home

Homeowners Anne and Patrick Jordan’s ambitious upgrade and extension project in County Kildare took the shell of an 18th century farmhouse and transformed it into an elegant family home with a striking-yet-sensitive modern extension — all while embracing a healthy and fabric-first approach to retrofit combined with clever heating system design that has brought them from a G to an A3 rating.

DIY Cork builder hits passive & NZEB with first self-build

Despite having no construction experience, self-builder Eamonn Fleming decided he could build a new family home more cheaply — and with better attention to detail — if he did it himself. And even though he didn’t set out to build a passive house, he managed to meet the standard while doing almost all of the work in conjunction with his father, while exceeding the targets of Ireland’s nearly zero energy building definition.