Author: Niall Crosson, BTech, MEngSc, MIEI, CEPHC, senior technical engineer, Ecological Building Systems
Five pioneering low-energy buildings were chosen by the German-Irish Chamber of Industry and Commerce to showcase the coming together of German technology and the Irish appetite for energy efficiency. The five projects were presented at the Chamber’s event, ‘Showcase – Made in Germany’, which was held recently at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.
The projects featured a range of energy efficient technologies applied across domestic, industrial and commercial projects. They reflected an Irish energy policy and building regulations that are ambitious, progressive and sustainable and illustrate how the rapid change in Irish building regulations has led to an increase in energy efficiency and building quality.
One of the award-winning projects was a certified ‘Passivhaus’, which was completed in Mount Merrion, Dublin in 2012. The Passivhaus was a collaboration between Ecological Building Systems Ltd, Fahy Fitzpatrick Consulting Engineers, Des Crabbe OA Studios and Advanced Timbercraft.
The concept originated in Germany and refers to a rigorous, voluntary standard for energy efficiency in a building. The first Passivhaus was built in 1990. These buildings are not limited to domestic premises and may also include non-domestic buildings, some of which are already constructed in Ireland.
Passivhaus buildings focus on a ‘fabric first’ approach to building design, with an emphasis on high levels of insulation, no thermal bridges, exceptionally high levels of airtightness combined with an effective ventilation strategy. Once these variables are optimised, the heating and cooling energy required to maintain a comfortable healthy living environment is minimised.
While this two-storey house in Dublin city does not aesthetically stand out from adjacent buildings, from an energy performance perspective, the house is extraordinary and performs on a completely different level. For between 10% to 20% of the cost paid by the homeowner’s neighbours, the owner can heat the house for an entire year. This 256-square-metre certified Passivhaus, completed in 2012, used German products and technology to ensure maximum energy efficiency, comfort and minimum energy costs.