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Inspiring examples from Ireland

1970's Bungalow in County Carlow upgraded to achieve an A1 Building Energy Rating

Carlow

front view side view schematic

This 1970s bungalow in County Carlow has been completely upgraded to achieve an A1 Building Energy Rating. 20m2 of rooftop solar thermal collectors heat a 1,000 litre buffer tank that supplies space heating, backed up by an air-to-water heat pump. The solar collectors meet approximately 60% of the space and hot water demand in November, 20% in December, 30% in January and 40% in February. A 12m2 array of solar photovoltaic panels provides electricity to power the heat pump. No oil or gas is needed for heating this house.

The house is divided into seven different heating zones, providing thermostatic control to each room. The underfloor heating was designed to operate at lower temperatures than normal, so as to maximize the efficiency of the solar panels. Pipes were also laid closer together and in shorter runs, to maximise the heat given off in any one area. The low temperature solar heating system is suitable in this house due to the high levels of insulation fitted during the renovation.

A heat recovery ventilation unit and a rain water harvesting system providing water for toilets and gardening were also installed during the renovation. The owners have achieved a standard of retrofit (7.18 kWh/m2/yr) that far exceeds the expected Irish NZEB standard of 45 KWh/m2/yr.



1960's Semi-detached house in Dublin renovated to Enerphit Passive House Standard

front view kitchen extension entrance hall

The brief for this renovation was to build something that was deeply environmental, an exemplar of energy efficiency, water conservation and low carbon construction, which would push the debate forward on how to improve the energy performance of Ireland's older housing stock. The project involved retrofitting the original house (101m2) to Enerphit standard and building a two-storey side extension and single-storey rear extension (58m2) to meet the Passive House standard.

This was the first 'EnerPhit' retrofit of any building type to be certified in Ireland, and only the fifth 'EnerPhit' in the world. In 2013, it was voted Green Residential Building of the year at the annual Green Awards.

The renovated house has good distribution of light throughout due to window design, rooflights, sunpipes and internal glass screen and staircase. It features 150mm external insulation and brick slips to the original house and woodfibre external wall insulation to the two-storey extension. 300mm of insulation was installed below the floor slab and the attic has 400mm of insulation. Low carbon materials were specified wherever possible.

The specification also includes low thermal bridging details, a high quality ventilation system with heat recovery, innovative Irish triple glazing, gravity-fed rainwater harvesting (feeding three toilet cisterns), solar panels for hot water, optimised solar gain and summer shading. A great deal of commitment and care was required in order to achieve the very challenging airtightness target of 1 air change /hour at 50 Pascals. After carrying out seven diagnostic airtightness tests, the target was finally exceeded. This project brought the house from a BER rating of G to A3 with a reduction of 90% in primary energy.



Passive House in County Wexford with an A1 Building Energy Rating

front view

This new build project, completed in 2012, is a superb example of Nearly Zero Energy Building. It was also the outright winner of the 2013 Isover Energy Efficiency Awards.

The incredibly high performance target set for this project had to be achieved using local materials and trades where possible. The project demonstrates that local site operatives with little or no experience of low energy construction can build a passive and A1 rated house using traditional construction methods and vernacular Irish style.

On this project the client developed his own tool which aided decision making and guided him towards the the most cost effective means of achieving the lowest energy solution. This tool integrated the passive house planning package (PHPP) and BER energy modelling and rating tools to test an exhausting list of alternative scenarios. The success of this project is that by undertaking such a detailed and comprehensive analysis, a building whose form was wholly unsuited to Passive House could be guided to achieve the onerous standard without incurring undue expense.

This house has a 16m2 array of photovoltic panels with an average output of 4.2kW. The PV panels have been combined with an air source heat pump to supply low temperature underfloor heating. The combination of PV and heat pump enables the exporting of surplus electricity to the grid. This means that on average each year the building will have a zero demand for its heating and hot water systems.

The owner has installed a sophisticated energy monitoring system and is reporting that there were zero costs for space heating and hot water over the recent 12 months.



Bord Gais Networks Services Centre


front view interior roof terrace courtyard

The Bord Gais Networks Services Centre combines the Dublin operations of Bord Gais Networks in one single location on a 0.5 acre site. This landmark building achieved a BREEAM rating of 'Excellent' and is the first office building in Ireland to achieve a post construction award of this rating under the BREEAM 2008 standard. This building has since won numerous design and sustainablity awards.

The building has a super insulated envelope with a U-value of 0.15 W/m2K for roof and walls exceeding current Building Regulation standards and achieves a verified air-tightness of 1.82 m3/hr/m2.

A key feature of the design is that the concrete slab construction contains an integral Thermo Active Building System (TABS) in-slab pipework that is used for both heating and cooling the building. A ground source heat pump (GSHP) provides heating during the winter and in summer provides cooling to the TABS and HVAC.

The building also hosts a low energy plant tower system with its southern elevation hosting 126 m2 of photovoltaic panels that supply up to 15% of the GSHP electricity requirement and 20m2 of solar panels providing 50% of the buildings hot water demand through a buffer vessel. The plant tower also has the ventilation exhaust plenum and has an integrated energy recovery system for the building connected to the ground floor air handling unit.

Throlux adaptive lighting and shading controller linked to the Building Energy Management System determines the most energy efficient requirements with regard to lighting, heating and cooling.

Passive House Extension to a Nursing Home in County Kildare

front view entrance

This is a 23 ensuite bedroom extension to the existing Glenashling Nursing Home in County Kildare, built in 2012. The new, two-storey structure is linked to the existing building, which also had an existing attic converted and upgraded, albeit not to passive levels, while a separate store, plant room and single apartment were also constructed. In addition, a new kitchen, dining room, living spaces, sluice room, storage rooms and laundry were built.

This extension is the world's first Passive House extension and the first Passive House nursing home in Ireland and the UK. It was an award winning entry in the Isover Energy Efficiency awards 2013. This project proves the business case for building and renovating commercial buildings to the highest possible standards of energy efficiency.

The first priority was to reduce heat loss through the building fabric. The walls of the extension are externally insulated and have a U-value of 0.14 W/m2K. An air-tightness level of 0.6 air changes / hour @ 50 Pascals was achieved due to the careful detailing of every junction within the building and the meticulous approach on site by the building contractor.

Typical temperatures in nursing homes tend to be up around 24°C because these buildings tend to have cold bridges everywhere and are not air-tight. These issues do not arise in this building as there are higher temperatures on all internal surfaces, so people feel naturally more comfortable at 21°C. Some heat is recovered by the ventilation system, which incorporates small water to air heat exchangers in the supply duct in each room. There is a thermostat in each room for individual control.

Heating is provided by a gas boiler with a flue heat recovery system. This gas boiler system is most efficient when delivering a large volume of hot water.