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Articles - passivehouseplus.ie

Opinion

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Ambitious companies in the Irish sustainable building sector should look to the US, says Century Homes founder Gerry McCaughey. As chief executive of LA-based green building business consultancy Infineco, McCaughey is witnessing first-hand how the land of opportunity is waking up to green construction.

Breaking the mould - part IV

Breaking the mould - Part IV
In the fourth part of a series of articles on the condensation risks associated with insulating single lead dwellings, Joseph Little of Joseph Little Architects & Building Life Consultancy reveals serious problems with the approach taken by regulators, standards authorities and suppliers on the condensation risks associated with insulating single leaf walls.

Clearing the air

As more and more people upgrade their homes to make them more energy efficient, it’s crucial for them to consider installing some sort of ventilation system to keep them healthy. Astrid Madsen compares heat recovery ventilation to a relative newbie on the Irish market, demand controlled ventilation.

Power to the people

Power to the people
The ESB's Home Insulation Scheme aimed to upgrade the homes of 1,000 pensioners on fuel allowance last year - it ended up reaching almost three times that number, reducing carbon emissions and improving the lives of many. Lenny Antonelli found out more.

Pushing the envelope

It’s not surprising that a 1970s bungalow on an exposed north-facing site might be draughty and burdened with high energy bills - but external insulation, a new heating system and a brand new roof can make all the difference. Lenny Antonelli reports.
It’s not surprising that a 1970s bungalow on an exposed north-facing site might be draughty and burdened with high energy bills - but external insulation, a new heating system and a brand new roof can make all the difference. Lenny Antonelli reports.

Solid as a rock

Solid as a rock
With over twenty years of design behind him, architect Martin Meyer has tackled plenty of big projects in his time, but his first home renovation challenge – to turn a dank 19th century red-brick house into a bright energy efficient home – was still eye-opening. Lenny Antonelli reports.

A room with a view

Room with a view
Nowhere demonstrates the need for a high-performance building envelope quite like a coastal site. John Hearne visited a cutting edge timber frame house overlooking Sligo Bay that was designed to achieve a highly insulated, air-tight and low embodied energy envelope whilst making the most of the spectacular vista.

Village green

Plans for the first Irish eco-village have been in the works since 1999, but – finally – work is well underway at The Village in Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary. Following a site visit in December, Lenny Antonelli gives an overview of the innovative project’s renewable energy district heating system and sustainable planning and community design approach, before profiling four of the first houses to be built.

Solar Decathlon

Solar Decathlon
Lenny Antonelli takes a look at some of the entrants of the 2009 Solar Decathlon, a competition that challenges university teams from around the world to design and build homes that capture the sun’s energy.

Peak timing

Peak timing
As the organisation entrusted by OECD countries to predict future global energy supplies, the International Energy Agency’s projections have significant impact on energy policy around the world. IEA officials recently told The Guardian that the organisation’s figures on oil supply had been inflated and that oil peak is happening. Richard Douthwaite assesses the fall out

Critical mass

Critical Mass
Thermal mass can significantly influence a building’s space heating requirement – in some cases the effect is to increase it, and in others to reduce it. Leading energy consultant Ciaran King of Emerald Energy explains how this occurs, and by describing an assessment of the topic, provides some rules of thumb regarding when thermal mass may be beneficial, and when it may be detrimental.

Are you being served?

Home-Energy-Upgrade
A sustainable energy project in north Tipperary has the potential to create a pioneering green community – buildings are getting energy makeovers, grants are available for renewables and the ecovillage at Cloughjordan is under construction. But getting householders in the area to go green is still proving a hard sell, as Lenny Antonelli reports

Capital L

Capital L
With the goal of achieving zero carbon standards for new homes by as soon as 2013, environment minister John Gormley has committed to introducing 60 per cent energy and carbon reductions under changes to part L of the building regulations next year. John Hearne spoke to leading industry figures to find out how the revised regulation could raise standards for both new and existing homes.

Hempcrete retreat

Hempcrete
No matter how energy efficient a building method is, constructing a house from scratch will always cause some damage to the environment - but what if a building material could absorb more carbon than it causes to be released over its life cycle? Lenny Antonelli visits a hempcrete house in Co. Down that seeks to trial this innovative method of building

Sustainability in store

IKEA
Little did we know when campaigning for the Fingal energy standard in 2005-06 that Construct Ireland would have a direct impact on Ikea’s first Irish store. Driven by a combination of Fingal’s requirements and their own renewable energy policy, the Swedish retail giant has invested in the largest ground source heat pump installation in Ireland and the UK, along with a well-thought biomass system fed by an onsite waste stream and a host of other green measures, as John Hearne reports

Gimme shelter

Gimme Shelter
Designing a low energy building when you've got unlimited space is one thing – but what if you need to make your walls thin to maximise space on a small site in an architectural conservation area? Lenny Antonelli visited a new St Vincent De Paul sheltered housing project that fit a lot of sustainable features on to a small plot in Dublin's north inner city.

Intlernational green buildings III

International Green Buildings
In the third installment of a new feature on international green buildings, Lenny Antonelli takes a look at more innovative, sustainable and striking buildings from around the world.

Methane & climate change

Methane-and-climate-change
With the threats posed by anthropogenic climate change now accepted as a key international issue, efforts to curb carbon dioxide emissions are becoming manifest around the world in spite of – and even as a response to – the global recession. But any such efforts may be in vain if the focus on carbon dioxide distracts from the need to curtail methane emissions, as Richard Douthwaite explains

Does old mean cold?

Balancing conservation and energy conservation in historic buildings
Historic buildings are all too easy to ignore when considering potential candidates for energy upgrade work. The heritage value of an historic building can often mitigate against the most obvious interventions, such as adding some form of wall insulation or replacing windows. Architect Fergal McGirl takes a typical Georgian building in Dublin through the energy rating process and proposes some considered upgrade measures. 

21st century fox

Detached home gets passive house makeover in Foxrock
Government incentives are crucial to sparking a massive energy upgrade of our housing stock, but practical examples are just as important. Keen to push his home's energy performance to the limits, one Dublin homeowner overhauled his entire building fabric and installed renewable heating systems and heat recovery ventilation. Lenny Antonelli visited the house.

Creature comforts

DRUMSHAMBO VETERINARY OFFICE MERGES ARCHITECTURE AND ENVIRONMENT
Not only does the new OPW-designed district veterinary office in Drumshanbo Co. Leitrim place strong emphasis on natural ventilation and lighting, it rests comfortably in the rural landscape and boats commendable green features too. Lenny Antonelli reports

Extending credit

PROTECTED COTTAGE GETS ULTRA-GREEN EXTENSION
Award winning green architects Solearth have been at the vanguard of sustainable design in Ireland for over a decade. Solearth’s Brian O’Brien describes a highly ecological extension designed by the practice in west Dublin.

On the plus side

MULLINGAR ENERGY PLUS HOUSE TO GENERATE MORE ENERGY THAN IT CONSUMES
Nothing focuses the mind like a target. The growing impact of Building Energy Ratings (BER) is increasingly encouraging Irish people to aim for the highest energy rating they can. Patrick and Niamh Daly’s house in Mullingar takes this trend to the next level, using a myriad of sustainable green materials and technologies to become a net energy producer and go beyond the limit of the BER scale. John Hearne visited the nearly completed house to find out more.

Intl. green buildings II

International Green Buildings
In the second installment of a new feature on international green buildings, Lenny Antonelli takes a look at four innovative, sustainable and striking buildings from around the world.

Climate control

Why Copenhagen talks are unlikely to prevent climate change crisis
As fears grow amongst climate scientists that the world may be close to reaching a tipping point leading to runaway global warming, there’s a growing recognition that the forthcoming UN climate conference in Copenhagen must deliver dramatic and binding targets to cut carbon. According to Richard Douthwaite, the talks are unlikely to deliver sufficiently meaningful action.

Pay as you save

Pay as you save
In an ideal world every occupied building in Ireland would be energy upgraded to the highest standard, tapping into numerous benefits for the building occupant, the construction industry and society as a whole. Construct Ireland is calling for the introduction of pay as you save, a repayment model which offers the potential of making significant energy upgrade investments achievable in the vast majority of Irish buildings, as Jeff Colley reveals.

Breaking the mould - part III

Breaking the mould
In April this year the first NSAI Agrément certificate was issued for the application of external insulation to existing dwellings. Joseph Little of leading green architects Joseph Little Architects used analysis from his practice’s Building Life Consultancy service to assess the certificate, and encountered issues which raised questions over whether it should have been issued in its current form.

Passivhaus or passive solar house?

Passivhaus Or Passive Solar House
Few concepts in sustainable design have caught on like the passive house. Since the construction of the first passive house in Germany in 1990, an estimated 15 to 20,000 houses have been built to what is arguably the world’s leading low energy building standard. Drawing from his experience in sustainable building since the early 1980s, Bill Quigley of NuTech Renewables posits an alternative approach.

Greening public procurement

Greening public procurement
Ireland has been waiting for a green procurement plan in the public sector for two years. Jason Walsh looks at what the plan should include and why it is needed, now more than ever, and with sustainable building at its core.

Heated agrément

0408-Heated-Agrement-SMALL Earlier this summer SEI announced that, from December, external wall insulation systems must have Irish Agrément certification to be eligible for support under the Home Energy Saving scheme. But many in the green building sector are critical of the decision, and some are questioning the value and purpose of Agrément. Lenny Antonelli reports.

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