Irish blogs - passivehouseplus.ie

Editor's letter: Issue 30

Our editor Jeff Colley's editor's letter from issue 30 received some particularly lovely praise, with architect Steve Mardall reaching out to say: "Was moved to write to commend you on your editor’s letter in this issue 30. You’ve perfectly captured the essence of the totality of where we are as a planet and a race. And captured well that subtle consensus of denial and ‘othering’ it, that is a compelling force to fall in line with if one is not to be labelled as a righteous crank. Your words articulate some of my own not formally articulated thoughts, and offer me clarity and impetus going forward." Meanwhile, AECB Carbon Lite Retrofit graduate Paul Forrester tweeted: "What a tremendously powerful piece of writing your editor’s letter is in issue 30 of @phplusmag. When I struggle to articulate all the thoughts, fears and conflicting ideas in my head, I might just show people that instead!" So here it is.

Mapping the efficiency of Europe’s buildings

A new free-to-use online tool aims to map the energy performance of Europe’s buildings, with the goal of helping to stimulate large-scale deep retrofit, writes project manager Michael Hanratty.

Marc O'Riain: The golden age of solar water heating

Renewable energy technologies are often regarded as new and innovative, but in some instances their roots predate the oil age and go back to the start of the industrial revolution. Dr Marc Ó’Riain finds important insights in past failures of early solar thermal systems.

Cuckoos & magpies: state house-buying hits record

Recent headlines suggest first time buyers are being pushed out of the housing market by ‘non-household’ buyers, so-called ‘cuckoo’ funds. Official figures suggest that private companies are not the only competition in the new homes market – there may be a ‘magpie’ out there also.

Internet of Things dominates ISH 2019

Today is the last day of ISH, the bi-annual exhibition for the combined topic of water and energy, which is on at the exhibition grounds in Frankfurt. Titled as ISH, it is the world’s leading trade fair for a range of associated topics, materials and services.

Reaching for the first rung

Why is it so difficult to get on the property ladder now compared to 20 years ago? After all, interest rates are lower and house prices are still below where they were in 2007. Architect Mel Reynolds runs through the figures.

A housing boom without the houses?

There was much talk of jobless recovery as economies picked up after the last global recession. Mel Reynolds detects signs of an analogous proposition in the Irish property market: a housing boom that may be close to peaking without much in the way of housebuilding to report.

The utopian Usonian

Dr Marc Ó Riain looks at the influence of 20th century architectural giant Frank Lloyd Wright on low energy building design.

Two houses for the price of one

Housing pundit and architect Mel Reynolds argues that local authority action could be the key to solving the housing crisis.

The House of Tomorrow, 1933

In his third column on visionary eco-buildings of the 20th century, Dr Marc Ó Riain looks at the pioneering passive solar designs of Fred Keck.

Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink

Inertia with state-owned land is exacerbating Ireland’s housing crisis, argues housing commentator and architect Mel Reynolds, in spite of the state possessing enough zoned land to make a major dent in solving the problem.

The prebiotic passive house

As understanding grows of the importance to human health of good bacteria in our environment, and new hospitals in the US start to undergo ‘prebiotic’ treatment, Dr Peter Rickaby asks how long it will be before microbiology becomes a core part of building design.

1948: The Dover Sun House

In his second column on visionary eco-buildings of the 20th century, Dr Marc Ó Riain looks at the Dover Sun House, which used a pioneering salt solution to capture and store solar energy

Is building life cycle assessment about to become easy?

Establishing a building’s overall sustainability ultimately means quantifying the impacts of the materials used to construct it. Up till now, that’s been a laborious, time-consuming process. That might be about to change, explains Irish Green Building Council CEO Pat Barry.

Why housing isn't viable

It is simply not possible for developers to build housing in cities like Dublin and sell it for a reasonable price without making a loss, writes architect Mel Reynolds — instead, we need meaningful affordable housing schemes.

A brave new world: Oil and architecture

Innovations in low energy building were spurred in the 20th century by oil crises, but the political impetus for meaningful change receded once the crises ended, explains Dr Marc Ó Riain, bringing an attendant failure to set meaningful building regulations.

Time to move beyond the architecture of the oil age

We must discard the architectural baggage of the 20th century to solve 21st century problems – argues our columnist Marc Ó Riain – and relearn some lessons from before the advent of oil.

Cutting-edge technology on display at ISH 2017

ISH, the world’s biggest showcase for bathroom design, heating, air-conditioning and renewable energy technology, took place last week in Frankfurt. Leading energy consultant Mark Shirley of 2eva.ie went along to see what was on offer.

Who needs retrofit standards?

We all do, argues Dr Peter Rickaby, but the goal of mass retrofitting our energy inefficient building stock is hampered by the fact that when it comes to most retrofits, we simply don’t know what we’re trying to achieve.

Let’s move beyond the sustainable city oxymoron

A truly sustainable built environment hinges on a multiplicity of factors, not least including the context within which a building sits. Dr Peter Rickaby argues that a focus on cities may lead us in the wrong direction. 

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