Climate breakdown and global ecological crises mean that our efforts to make buildings sustainable must go far beyond operational energy use – including number crunching and drastically reducing environmental impacts of building materials. John Cradden reports on progress in the uptake of the building blocks of life cycle analysis of buildings: Environmental Product Declarations.
Air source heat pumps are rapidly becoming one of the dominant technologies in sustainable building, but how well do they perform in real world conditions? Can they be part of the solution to retrofitting homes, given the challenges in making existing homes suitable for low energy heating? A rare monitoring study on a pioneering retrofit scheme offers encouraging signs.
This issue features two new buildings built to the passive house standard - an elementary school in Austria and a gorgeously simple house in the Ore Mountains of the Czech Republic.
The best architecture responds skilfully and sensitively to its surroundings, so when a long and narrow plot beside a busy road became available in the Somerset village of Chew Magna, architect David Hayhow set out to design a passive house, inspired by nearby farm buildings, that would be both private yet filled with light — quite the challenge given the site’s tight restraints.
With this stunning, award-winning passive house in Camden, the legendary engineer Max Fordham — together with bere:architects & Bow Tie Construction — has produced a simple and beautiful urban home with no wet heating system that draws on his lifetime of work applying the principles of simplicity, practicality and replicability to the design of building services.
The retrofit and extension of a run-down semi in Cork shows just how radically a typical Irish home can be transformed with a skilful retrofit — and why, if your budget is limited, upgrading the building fabric should be your first priority.
The dramatic conversion of 22 old bedsits on the north side of Dublin City into 11 passive-grade apartments offers an inspiring example of how to retrofit inner city housing while radically improving quality of life for residents.
Moisture problems are the Achilles heel of many new builds and retrofits, explains Dr Peter Rickaby – problems that can be exacerbated with poorly-conceived energy efficiency efforts, and which may become more prevalent due to climate breakdown.
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.
An international standard ‘E-Thermal’ environmental test facility designed to assist Irish SMEs in developing new sustainable heating products has formally been opened at Galway Mayo Institute of Technology.
An innovative Wicklow company is embracing the circular economy by manufacturing soundproofing boards from recycled materials.
Beam Vacuum & Ventilation has announced that they have successfully achieved certification against the requirements of ISO 9001 (quality management), ISO 14001 (environmental management), and ISO 45001 (occupational health and safety), while also meeting the Safety Schemes in Procurement (SSIP) for contractors’ criteria.
A 1960s cottage in Tipperary is one of the first projects to be deep retrofitted this year by Sola Energy Solutions under Tipperary Energy Agency’s popular SuperHomes scheme, which aims to make it easy for homeowners to undertake a deep energy upgrade by managing the entire retrofit process.
Ecological Building Systems has announced a new partnership with Lime Green UK, the UK’s leading innovator in the field of lime-based plasters, renders and mortars.
Work is progressing on a house designed by Passive House Plus columnist Mel Reynolds that is expected to be certified to the passive house ‘plus’ standard, and which was financed by Property Bridges, Ireland’s first peer-to-peer lender for development finance.
Green Building Store and PHI Architecture are currently seeking property owners with MVHR systems to take part in air quality research in conjunction with Nottingham University.
As construction delivery chain roles have become more fragmented, a lack of joined up thinking has meant that disparate elements of a project don’t always work effectively as a whole, says Andrew Mitchell, managing director of Natural Building Technologies.
When looking at new technologies and projects, developers and self-builders might assume that if you’re building with ‘new’ methods such as ICF, SIPS, timber frame and steel frame that you can’t achieve a traditional facade.
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.
The pressure to build large volumes of additional housing in response to the housing crisis is driven by false logic and risks undermining both the quality of new homes and UK carbon targets, according to Richard Tibenham, lecturer in building physics at the University of Lincoln and director of Greenlite Energy Assessors.
Is the very nature of the way that construction products are bought and sold limiting the wider proliferation of natural and sustainable materials?