Secrecy of fire tests undermines public safety, Grenfell Enquiry hears

The commercial secrecy surrounding the fire-testing of construction materials undermines fire protection by potentially obscuring serious concerns, a major alliance of fire bodies has told the public enquiry into the Grenfell disaster.

17-11-2017 Government

Garway community centre set to meet passive house standard

The rural Herefordshire village of Garway is busy planning for a sustainable future with construction of a new community centre to the passive house standard.

10-11-2017 Projects

Solar PV fastest growing fuel in 2016

New solar PV capacity grew by 50% last year, with China accounting for almost half of the global expansion, according to the International Energy Agency’s latest renewables market analysis and forecast.

10-11-2017 Renewable Energy

Quinn announced as sponsors of World nZEB Forum

Specialist low energy building product manufacturers Quinn Building Products have been announced as the main sponsors of the World nZEB Forum, which combines pre-forum workshops on 15 November and a conference on 16 November.

07-11-2017 Events

Solecco Solar launches new solar roof tiles

Solecco Solar launched its innovative solar roof tile solution at the UK Construction Week trade show which took place on 10 to 12 October at the NEC in Birmingham.

07-11-2017 Product News

Smet picks up small business award

Smet Building Products, which supplies a wide range of products for low energy and fabric-first construction, picked up the award for best small business at the Greater Newry Business Awards, organised by Newry Chamber of Commerce & Trade, on 28 September at the town’s Canal Hotel.

07-11-2017 Events

How to make Irish housing genuinely affordable...

The private speculative sector can’t build affordable housing, but there are other ways of achieving this, writes architect Mel Reynolds.

01-11-2017 Blogs

Leicester cathedral to get passive extension

Architecture practice vHH has announce that it is planning to adopt the passive house standard on a three-storey extension to the Grade 11 listed Leicester Cathedral, which is due to start on site in July 2019.

05-09-2017 Conservation

Energywise Ireland open new renewables showroom

Leading renewable energy experts Energywise Ireland have opened their brand new showroom in Blackpool, Cork City.

05-09-2017 Product News

New homes data reveals extent of Irish low energy revolution

Ireland’s new build housing market is undergoing a radical transformation in energy performance specifications, analysis by Passive House Plus has revealed — with oil heating all but vanishing from use, leaving gas boilers and heat pumps to dominate the heating market.

28-08-2017 Renewable Energy

Government ‘Help to hoard' scheme - why we’re not building homes

With Ireland’s housing crisis continuing to escalate, government policies may be further exacerbating the problem, argues Mel Reynolds.

25-08-2017 Blogs

What is the AECB Silver Standard?

In the current policy vacuum, many questions have been raised about the future of sustainable construction. Despite this uncertainty, there is a steady growth of interest in the AECB Silver Standard, writes architect Mark Siddall.

24-08-2017 Blogs

From the magazine

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.

New build

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.

Feature

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.

New build

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.

Upgrade

389 sqm home, €200 measured annual heating

This large family home in south Dublin proves that big homes don’t need to be cold and draughty, comfortably beating Ireland’s planned nearly zero energy building standard for 2021 — even though it was finished in 2015.

New build

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.

Dispatches

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.

New build

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.

New build

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.

New build

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?

Dispatches

How to prepare to deliver nearly zero energy buildings

In the second instalment of this column, architect and DIT lecturer Simon McGuinness outlines the key priorities for the industry to learn in order to deliver successful ultra low energy buildings in 2017 and beyond.

Help desk

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?

Insight

Brecon Beacons stone cottage gets Enerphit treatment

When it came to upgrading an old stone-walled building to the Enerphit standard — with all the inherent challenges such an upgrade poses for energy, airtightness and moisture — who better to have as your client and defacto site manager than a professor of physics?

Upgrade

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.

Upgrade

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.

New build

Norfolk straw-bale cottage aims for passive

Passive house design is often seen as belonging to the world of hi-tech construction — perhaps unfairly, seeing as it emphasises a good building fabric over bolt-on technologies. Straw-bale construction, meanwhile, is usually regarded as the preserve of only the most committed, do-it-yourself eco-builders. To some these two approaches appear to be chalk and cheese, but in fact they are inherently compatible, and more and more projects are now combining the maths-centred approach of passive house with the extensive use of natural materials. In the first of a series of case studies on passive straw-bale dwellings, Lenny Antonelli spoke to...

New build

Simple and stunning Highlands passive house merges old and new

While embracing traditional farmstead design made it trickier for this new build home in the Scottish Highlands to meet the coveted passive house standard, mixing modern standards of super-insulation with vernacular farmhouse architecture ultimately led to the creation of a very special home for proprietors Jeanette and Jon Fenwick — one that picked up a coveted UK Passivhaus Award in 2016.

New build

International selection - issue 19

This issue feature a passive house cabin in the Rocky Mountains, and a jaw-dropping new passive house in Majorca.

International

New build homes face emerging ventilation crisis

Despite increasing standards of insulation and airtightness, housing developers face few requirements to provide better ventilation and indoor air quality for new home buyers — beyond knocking extra holes in walls. But as reports of condensation and mould affecting new housing developments continue to surface in both the UK and Ireland, and research indicates many new homes may have poor indoor air quality, are developers finally waking up to the need for properly engineered ventilation systems?

Dispatches

How to prevent condensation & mould

In this first instalment of his brand new ‘Help Desk’ feature, architect and passive house designer Simon McGuinness of Dublin Institute of Technology invites questions on all aspects of passive house, retrofit and low energy building.

Help desk