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.
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?
Achieving building regulations compliance and a good energy rating is one thing. Delivering a genuinely low energy building is quite another. A new scheme by one of Ireland’s most decorated developers may help show the market a way forward.
All new buildings in south-east Dublin must be built to the passive house standard or demonstrably equivalent levels, in a move that may lead to the construction of upwards of 20,000 passive houses by 2022.
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?
Heat Merchants and HomeBond co-hosted the National Construction Industry Conference last November in Croke Park’s Conference Centre to review key issues and deliver insights to over 210 architects, engineers, planners and developers. The topics centred around key issues which will influence the future of the construction industry in Ireland, including liability, health & safety plus the implications of recent and upcoming additions to various sections of the building regulations.
Leading businesses in the building materials sector — including semi-state timber company Coillte and insulation manufacturer Kingspan — have declared their support for plans by Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council to make the passive house standard mandatory for new buildings.
This article, originally published in 2012, details the Irish building industry's history of opposition to higher standards.
Perhaps the most common argument against making passive house mainstream is that it costs too much to build. But as building regulations tighten and an increasingly competitive passive house sector emerges, does that argument hold water?
Dublin’s old city wall in Woodquay provided the backdrop on Wednesday 15 October to a conference, titled 'Better Than Best Practice', on the urgent need to upskill the Irish construction industry.
As the UK inches towards zero carbon and nearly zero energy building targets, the construction industry must pay increasing attention to the impacts of regulatory changes on design and construction, argues Passive House Academy founder Tomás O’Leary. But will homes designed using the UK’s national methodology come close to passive house levels of comfort?
Less than a third of new Irish homes meet energy efficiency and carbon emissions regulations, according to new figures. The number of new homes meeting the rules has also declined dramatically since 2005, according to data released by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.
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.
Patrick Daly, co-founder of the RiSE (Research in Sustainable Environments) research unit in the DIT has undertaken an in depth study and critique of the current Irish Part L for energy efficiency in dwellings, comparing it in detail to the UK equivalent. The findings raise challenging questions about the Irish standards and methodology and highlight serious shortcomings in comparison to our UK neighbours, permitting substantially higher levels of CO2 emissions from new homes in Ireland than in the UK.
Recent allegations that a single leaf timber frame development in Leitrim was forced to incorporate an outer layer of blockwork in spite of no such requirement in the Building Regulations or by the local authority in question suggests that something is seriously amiss, as Frank Coles explains.
Construct Ireland and Century Homes present the need for Energy Labels before the Joint Oireachtas Committee
If you’re applying for planning permission to build in Cappagh, North Ballymun or Northwest Balbriggan, 30% of your heating must come from renewable energy, and your heating must be less than 50Kwh/m2 per annum—roughly twice the standard of most new homes.
As energy prices continue to rise, the Irish construction industry is moving into uncharted territory, where all elements that affect energy performance—from orientation, to building design, to specification, to standard of workmanship—are increasingly recognised as key concerns.
The Passive House standard, an internationally renowned approach to building that negates the need for conventional heating, has attracted considerable interest in Ireland recently as energy prices continue to rise. Vivienne Brophy, Dr Irena Kondratenko, Patxi Hernandez and Kevin Burke of UCD’s Energy Research Group look at the effect this approach could have on cutting Ireland’s energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
As our recognition of the problems of dwindling fossil fuel supplies and climate change grows, the need to reduce the energy consumption and carbon emissions of our homes becomes increasingly apparent. Leading energy consultant Patrick Waterfield describes why and how we should switch to zero heating homes.