UK blogs - passivehouseplus.ie

Getting to net zero carbon

The UK government has committed to a legally binding target of being “net zero carbon” by 2050. Peter Rickaby ponders the steps needed to get there, and what the goal means for our homes, offices and other buildings.

Environmental activism - tracing the roots of today's climate activism

While the green wave visible at ballot boxes and street marches in 2019 reflects an apparent escalation in public consciousness on the need for urgent, decisive environmental action, the roots of today’s environmental consciousness stretch back over half a century, explains Dr Marc Ó Riain.

How humanity can save itself from itself

We are in the grip of a global emergency. The science is clear, and thousands of lives have already been lost. The public are demanding firm and bold leadership, but a laissez-faire attitude on the part of western governments has delayed and watered down our response, with calamitous consequences.

Culture shock & knowledge transfer

What are the consequences for the built environment, and the climate, of the lack of communication between research and industry, asks Dr Peter Rickaby – and what can be done about it?

The first oil crisis

In the latest instalment of his series on the development of energy efficiency and renewable energy in the 20th century, Dr Marc Ó Riain reports on the seismic impact caused by the 1973 oil crisis.

Is it too late for sustainability?

Despite the urgency with which radical action is required to transform our built environment, Dr Peter Rickaby says he has never been more optimistic about the possibility of change.

The schism in solar energy

In his latest column on the evolution of solar energy, Dr Marc Ó Riain looks at how the design approaches of architects and engineers diverged in the middle of the century.

Managing moisture: why we must learn the four Cs

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.

How will today’s buildings perform tomorrow?

Richard Tibenham of Greenlite Energy Assessors says a case of two highly energy-inefficient and ‘hard-to-treat’ buildings, built in 2013, should serve as a warning to the whole construction sector.

Secured by Design: crime prevention with CO2 co-benefits

More than one million homes have been built around the UK to security standards required by Secured by Design (SBD), the UK’s national police crime prevention initiative, with significant reductions in crime and with considerable benefits to the environment. SBD senior development officer, Kenny McHugh, explains what SBD could offer to Ireland.

Reflections on sustainable Nordic architecture

It’s no coincidence that Nordic countries are some of the most advanced in the world when it comes to low energy design. In this article, three assistant professors of architecture based in Denmark and Finland discuss areas where we can learn from our Nordic neighbours — and where we might return the favour.

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.

The Jodrell Bank grand challenge

During a speech last year Theresa May challenged the construction industry to halve the energy use of new buildings, and to halve the cost of retrofit. But we already know how to meet these challenges, writes Peter Rickaby, and much more difficult tasks lie ahead.

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.

The utopian Usonian

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

Filling the retrofit policy void

The imperative to engage in evidence-based deep retrofit grows by the day. With the UK government dragging its heels, Peter Rickaby finds signs of hope in local initiatives, and in burgeoning Irish efforts.

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.

Breaking the mould in Thamesmead

The net effect of poor insulation levels, underheating and under-ventilation in buildings poses a major public health threat. Peter Rickaby describes one pioneering London project that’s taking a practical, methodical – and scalable – approach to 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

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.

Policy for zero, or zero policy?

The penny is starting to drop that profound energy saving efforts in buildings – right up to zero emissions levels – are both necessary and urgent if the UK is to honour its climate change targets. So what’s holding up meaningful action, asks Peter Rickaby?

Why construction contracts must change in light of Grenfell

Design-and-build contracts have become increasingly common in construction, a trend that must be reversed in light of the Grenfell Tower fire if we are to deliver safe and high quality buildings, says quantity surveyor Michael McCarthy.

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