Articles - passivehouseplus.ie

Super powers

Super Powers
The development of sustainable building in Ireland has had to wait for the public to become concerned about energy supply, climate change, and the implications of living in draughty, damp buildings.  Much of the established low energy know-how emanates from countries where cold winters drove innovation. Drawing from 50 years of research and development between the Canadian government and housing industry, the Super E programme may be just what Ireland needs, as John Hearne discovered at a new development in Rosslare.

Park life

Park Life
A new public park on the northside of Dublin combines wind power and sustainable water management with environmentally sound materials and strategies to boost biodiversity, making it a standard-bearer in urban design. Lenny Antonelli visited the site

Born again bungalow

Born Again Bungalow
Few words in the vocabulary of Ireland’s built environment come with more baggage than ‘bungalow’. For many people, it embodies a total disregard for good architecture and the environment, in part due to its association with isolated one-off housing. John Hearne visited a house in Mayo that mixes considered design with a host of modern technologies to breathe new life into the form.

International green buildings

Going Global
In the first installment of a new feature on international green buildings, Lenny Antonelli takes a look at five innovative, sustainable and striking buildings from around the world.

Steep decline

Brian Cowen
The worl­d has learned the hard way that our political leaders lacked the judgement and resolve to identify and address the problems which led to the recession. Richard Douthwaite argues that a similarly flawed judgement is evident in the assumption that the economy will recover, and advises on how to prepare for a future of global economic contraction.

Harp attack

Harp Attack
The HARP database allows Building Energy Rating assessors to enter real performance data for heating appliances when calculating Building Energy Ratings rather than low default scores - but few renewable appliances are listed, and the industry appears confused and deterred by the application process. Lenny Antonelli investigates.

Breaking the mould - part II

Breaking the mould
The previous edition of Construct Ireland featured an article by leading green architect Joseph Little analysing the insulated dry-lined blockwork walls typical of many homes in Irish housing estates, looking particularly at moisture movement within the external walls. Continuing on from that article, Little looks at the implications of several ways of insulating houses of hollow block construction.

Under rated

Under Rated
Mandatory for virtually all building types since January of this year, Building Energy Ratings have been met with little fanfare. Construct Ireland proposes a cost-free method of levelling the marketplace by ensuring compliance and increasing awareness of the BERs legal status. Jason Walsh explains.

Heaven sent

Heaven Sent
When it comes to redeveloping old buildings, green designers face two choices: replace existing structures with modern, energy efficient buildings or refurbish and avoid the embodied energy and waste of demolition and new construction. Lenny Antonelli visited a redeveloped convent in Booterstown, County Dublin that combines the best of both approaches.

Public good

Public Good
Until recently the York Street flats had been a living legacy of failed past approaches to social housing – a slum of mainly north-facing flats dating from Victorian times, and poorly rebuilt in the year Ireland became a republic, 1949. John Hearne visited the recently redeveloped York Street and found a thoroughly sustainable set of buildings that should inspire thoughts of future progress rather than past failings

Forward pass

Forward Pass
As interest in sustainable building continues to escalate, Construct Ireland is increasingly unearthing buildings that betray an ambition to break new ground under a plethora of green criteria. John Hearne visited one such house in County Louth, and found a project driven by passive house and BER scale-topping ambitions combined with on-site energy and water supply strategies and a commitment to the use of green materials

Home and dry

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Homeowners thinking of applying for Home Energy Saving scheme grants should pay close attention to a renovation project in Stillorgan, south Dublin. The refurbishment boasts every upgrade measure grant-aided under the scheme, including three types of wall insulation, a high efficiency boiler and sophisticated heating controls. Lenny Antonelli visited the house to find out more.

Peak coal

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In recent years it’s become increasingly accepted that the age of cheap and abundant oil and gas supplies is coming to an end, and that future energy needs will have to be met from cleaner, more widely available fuel sources. According to Richard Douthwaite, the prospects of exponentially rising costs and failure to ramp up carbon capture and storage will mitigate against coal’s ability to take up the slack

Breaking the mould - part I

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Ill-considered attempts to upgrade a building’s thermal performance can not only fail to save energy, but can also create serious problems for occupant health and building structure alike. Leading green designer Joseph Little of Joseph Little Architects investigates the particular problems associated with dry-lining single-leaf concrete block walls

All systems go

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Some buildings, by their nature, tend to have larger energy requirements. Occupied around the clock, with occupants who feel the cold, nursing homes are a case in point. John Hearne visited a north Dublin building where a range of different sustainable technologies operate in tandem to deliver the residents’ heating and hot water requirements

Solvent green

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The market for new residential build may have bottomed out, but compared to the rest of the construction industry the sustainable building sector appears buoyant. Changing market conditions, various government incentives and updated building regulations are all helping greener building companies - but with few houses likely to be built this year and capital restricted, challenges still lie ahead. Lenny Antonelli reports

Green grocers

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Can a supermarket be green? Tesco's new store in Tramore, County Waterford suggests that, at least in terms of the building it’s housed in, the sky’s the limit. Jason Walsh visited a building which meets passive house standards and demonstrates impressive attention to sustainability throughout its design.

End result

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In light of the current economic conditions, an increasing number of Irish people are turning away from buying new homes, instead deciding to make the most of what they’ve got by extending and refurbishing. Lenny Antonelli visited one such house nearing completion in Glasnevin that uses a combination of materials and techniques to aim for highly sustainable results.

Saving grace

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The government recently announced a fund of e100 million for energy upgrading Irish houses in 2009, to be divided equally between low income and middle income earners. Focusing on the latter, Jason Walsh looks at the details of the Home Energy Saving scheme and speaks to key figures in the industry to get their views on the ingredients needed to make the scheme a success

Walking on water

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Designing a low-energy public building with passive ventilation and lighting in mind is one thing – making it fit seamlessly into a rural wetland environment is quite another. Lenny Antonelli visited the award-winning Ballybay Wetlands Centre in County Monaghan - a closed-panel timber frame structure designed to sit softly on the surrounding landscape.

For peat's sake

Douthwaite - Peat
Up till now, the activities of semi-state energy companies like Bord na Móna, ESB & Bord Gais have not won the favour of environmentalists. Richard Douthwaite explains how that situation is destined to rapidly change, and exclusively reveals details of the ambitious new green direction being adopted by Bord na Móna.

Deconstruct Ireland

Deconstruct Ireland
The environmental impact of the built environment extends far beyond energy consumption and carbon emissions throughout a building’s intended lifespan. Architect and sustainable design consultant Sinéad Cullen of DW EcoCo & BE Architecture explains why there’s a need to design buildings that can be deconstructed rather than destroyed once they reach their end of life, and looks at the obstacles to be overcome to make this happen.

Insulating Ireland

Insulating Ireland
The vast majority of Irish buildings are in need of substantial energy upgrade work. Given the difficult economic conditions and low public awareness of the cost, comfort and health benefits of a well-designed energy renovation, the notion of upgrading most Irish buildings is a considerable challenge. However, as Lenny Antonelli explains, new ideas are emerging that could stimulate energy upgrade work on an unprecedented scale.

Taking control

Taking Control
Buildings that are designed or refurbished to use little energy all too often fail to deliver the expected performance, if the building occupants aren’t able to use the building as intended. John Hearne reveals the crucial role that user-friendly heating controls play in ensuring that a theoretically low energy building delivers the expected results.

Hollow victory

Hollow Victory
Much of the housing built around Dublin over the last forty years has been built of single-leaf nine-inch hollow block construction – which are both notoriously energy inefficient and extremely difficult to insulate effectively without causing damp problems. Lenny Antonelli visited a hollow block house which has been ecologically renovated to protect occupant health whilst shooting to the top of the energy rating scale.

Restoring order

Restoring Order
Turning a ruined farm house into a usable dwelling has been a dream for decades, but can an age-old structure really be brought-up to the cutting edge of energy efficiency? Architect Frank Cooney has found a way with a ruin in Cavan currently undergoing renovation. Jason Walsh visited the site to find out more.

Dream factory

Dream Factory
The rapid emergence of sustainable building in Ireland has been heavily influenced by the techniques of early-adopters extending from Scandinavia, to Canada, to Germany and Austria. John Hearne visited a recently completed timber home in Galway which uses Austrian know-how to couple air-tightness, high levels of insulation and healthy materials with a sustainable approach to heating and ventilation

Acquired taste

Acquired-Taste
The Department of Agriculture’s new Food Safety Centre is a deceptively simple building that combines natural ventilation and lighting with energy efficiency - all on a designed natural landscape that seeks to both boost biodiversity and prevent flooding. Lenny Antonelli visited the County Kildare site to find out more

Shifting ground

Shifting Ground
Unless greenhouse gas emissions from land are tackled, any efforts to reduce emissions from buildings may fall short in attempting to stave off the worst consequences of climate change. Richard Douthwaite explains how, with a little ingenuity, techniques can be applied to dramatically reduce land emissions whilst simultaneously providing new raw material streams and energy source

Static electricity

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The announcement in 2007 of the introduction of Smart electricity metering led to widespread hope that Ireland could set a global example by empowering consumers to cut electricity use and generate their own renewable electricity. John Hearne investigates current progress on the initiative, and discovers signs that Ireland’s approach to smart metering could represent a missed opportunity.

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