Material impacts

For decades now, European countries have been regulating the amount of energy new buildings can consume for heating and electricity. But as these standards get ever tighter, is time to start controlling the embodied energy and wider environmental impact of building materials — and what’s the best way to do it?

Will building boom see low energy failures?

Low energy building isn’t complicated, but it’s easy to get wrong. Since Irish house builders downed tools en masse when the last boom ended, energy efficiency standards for new homes have seen unprecedented rises of 40% in 2008 and 60% in 2011, shooting far ahead of the UK. But with signs of a new boom emerging, can the industry get to grips with this brave new world of insulation, airtightness and thermal bridging and deliver healthy low-energy homes — or are damp and mould set to become the norm in new build?

The new proposed passive house classes explained

The Passive House Institute’s announcement of new classes of passive house certification – including renewable energy generation – at this year’s International Passive House Conference caused something of a stir. Dr Benjamin Krick, the institute’s head of component certification sheds some light on the new classes and explains the rationale behind proposals which may set up passive house for a fabric first approach to near – and sub – zero energy building.

Airtightness - the sleeping giant of energy efficiency

A building’s airtightness test result isn’t just an indicator of its energy efficiency – it’s an unambiguous indicator of build quality. With a little care in design and on site, airtightness targets that may seem impossibly tough are anything but, argues leading architect and certified passive house designer Simon McGuinness.

The small passive house problem - a solution?

It’s sometimes said to be hard – perhaps too hard – to get a small house to meet the passive house standard. But a small house will have small heating bills, so why is it hard for a small house to be a passive house? Leading passive house consultants Alan Clarke and Nick Grant delve into the passive house software to find out what’s going on.

Natural ventilation - does it work?

Such is the importance of ventilation, it’s only right and proper that the efficacy of innovative mechanical solutions such as heat recovery ventilation and demand controlled mechanical extract ventilation is established
based on robust, comprehensive evidence. But how does natural ventilation fare when subjected to the same degree of scrutiny, and can it work in low energy buildings?

Passive house goes large

Passive house is no longer just the preserve of the self-builder. With over 300 passive houses built to date in multi unit-schemes and a thousand more on the way – along with major non-domestic builds – increasing numbers of British & Irish developers are going passive. But how will the sector cope with upscaling, and will the most cost-conscious developers be attracted to the standard?

Unlocking investment in home retrofit

In spite of a consensus that most buildings need deep energy upgrades, both Ireland and the UK have barely scratched the surface. Joseph Curtin – one of Ireland’s leading energy policy wonks –discusses how to kick start en masse upgrade work.

The cost of building passive

Perhaps the most common argument against making passive house mainstream is that it costs too much to build. But as building regulations tighten and an increasingly competitive passive house sector emerges, does that argument hold water?

The passive house in a warming world

 The coming decades are expected to bring higher average temperatures, more extreme weather events – and possibly more cold snaps. But how are passive house buildings geared to adapt to a changing climate?

Bridging the building performance gap

Predicted energy usage seldom reflect actual consumption, whether in the case of typical stock or notionally low energy buildings. But how well does passive house turn theory into reality?

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