Isabel Barros Architects - Blog

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Do You Need Planning Permission to Install Solar Panels?

 

The new SEAI grant for solar Photo-voltaic (PV) panels is a welcome addition available to Irish households built and occupied before 2011.

The grant is available for all new Solar PV installations from Tuesday 31st July 2018 and more information is available here.

Solar Photo-voltaic (PV) works on the principle that energy in the sun is converted to electricity. PV cells are used to convert solar radiation into Direct Current (DC) electricity. The DC electricity is then inverted to Alternating Current (AC) electricity for use in buildings or export to the grid. When light shines on the PV cell an electric field is created across the silicon conducting layers which causes electricity to flow.

The energy available from the sun is measured in kilo Watt hours per square metre per year (kWh/m2/year). The angle and orientation of the solar array is very important. Generally a photo-voltaic installation requires a large southerly facing roof or field space. Panels are either pre-constructed encapsulated glass/plastic or in some cases may take the form of roof tiles or semi-transparent PV glazing units. There are some costly systems which can track the sun over the course of a day throughout the year. A traditional roof up to a pitch angle of 35? is best for PV output. Trees, chimneys and other buildings should be avoided to minimise any shading effect.

Do You Need Planning Permission to Install Solar Panels?

The installation of solar panels on domestic properties is exempt from planning permission under the Planning and Development (Amendment) Regulations 2007, subject to certain conditions.

These conditions are as follows:

  • The size of any such panel together with any other such panel previously placed on or within the said curtilage, shall not exceed 12 sq. m or 50 per cent of the total roof
    area, whichever is the lesser;
Solar Panels - Conditions to be exempt from Planning Permission, Ireland 2018

(click image to enlarge)

 

  • The distance between the plane of the wall or a pitched roof and the panel shall not exceed 15 cm;
Solar Panels - Conditions to be exempt from Planning Permission, Ireland 2018

(click image to enlarge)

 

  • The distance between the plan of a flat roof and the panel shall not exceed 50 cm;
Solar Panels - Conditions to be exempt from Planning Permission, Ireland 2018

(click image to enlarge)

 

 

  • The solar panels shall be a minimum of 50 cm from any edge of the wall or roof on which it is to be mounted;

(see 1st image)

  • The height of a free standing solar array shall not exceed 2 metres at its highest point, above ground level;
Solar Panels - Conditions to be exempt from Planning Permission, Ireland 2018

(click image to enlarge)

 

 

  • A free standing solar array shall not be placed on or forward of the front wall of the house;
Solar Panels - Conditions to be exempt from Planning Permission, Ireland 2018

(click image to enlarge)

 

 

  • The erection of any free standing solar array shall not reduce the area of private open space to the rear or side of the house to less than 25 sq. m.

 

New Solar PV Pilot Scheme 

This new scheme provides a grant towards the purchase and installation of a solar PV system and/or battery energy storage system.

This will take the form of a once-off payment. The eligible technologies will be solar PV systems (including metering etc.) and battery storage systems.

The scheme is expected to operate for 2 years with regular reviews expected every 6 months.

The maximum grant support levels are as follows:

  • Solar PV Systems    €700/kWp
  • Battery Storage      €1,000

 

Eligible systems are:

  • Solar PV Systems up to 2kWp
    (about 6 to 8 panels)
  • Solar PV system with battery storage up to 4kWp
    (Battery to meet scheme requirements)

Homeowners are required to complete a Building Energy Rating (BER) on their home after the supported works have been completed.

Grants may only be claimed after the measures are fully completed and the contractor has been paid by or has entered into a financing agreement with the homeowner.

 

 

Disclaimer: This is a brief summary of the regulations with regards when planning permission is required and is provided for general guidance only. For full details contact your local council planning department. The relevant Regulations and the Planning Authority should always be consulted when in doubt.

A Reminder to Young and Not-So-Young Architects

 

There is something very contemplative about looking back at the reasons why we wanted to be Architects and what guided us throughout our Architecture Education.

The text below dates from 1993, it is a translation from an interview or lecture (?) by renowned Portuguese architect and professor Fernando Távora. It was never meant to be secret but it has been hidden in a folder for 25 years – it is now time to share it as reminder to young (and maybe not so young) Architects.

 

The awareness of an Architecture of excellence, of quality, must always be present in every project. The Architect cannot take insecure positions, the Architect must be aware of his/hers responsibility as creator of a space that it is wanted with quality.

All Architecture must be a construction with quality, a construction of quality spaces because these spaces will shape the human behaviour.

From here we can discuss the education of the Architect; what shall this education consist of for Architecture students…Fernando Távora argues the education of an Architect, or future Architect, cannot lack PASSION, CONFIDENCE and INTENSITY. With wisdom these 3 characteristics must not be abandoned, and this will not be an easy task.

Fernando Tavora 3 characteristics for Architects

The Architect must be passionate about the projects s/he creates, be tireless, and always endeavour that they satisfy the required needs without compromising their quality.

Confidence must be the starting point, the Architect must create roots, must sustain deep reasons about what s/he does, must make sense, not be carried away with the easy success to satisfy the less affirmed taste of his/hers clients.

The intensity is linked to the other two characteristics… the Architect must deliver him/herself intensively to his/her project, and not passively!

 

Fernando Távora participated in several Congrès International d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM) and Team 10 meetings, he became a key person in the modernization of the Porto School. Two of his former students, Álvaro Siza (who also worked in his architecture office) and Eduardo Souto de Moura, have been awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

 

 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Timber Frame Construction

 

Advantages of Timber Frame Construction

 

  • Recyclable
  • Renewable

Timber is classified as a renewable material, as the principle holds that if a tree is felled another is planted in its place. As long as this balance is maintained, the supply will be sustainable.

  • Low embodied energy if constructed in local timber
  • Reduced construction waste through efficient controlled manufacturing
  • Low volume of waste on site requiring removal
  • Quick build time

A prefabricated timber frame can be erected on site faster than a comparable brick and block construction. However, timber frames may require additional time for their design and fabrication, which can lead to a longer wait before work begins on site. 

  • Reduced site labour
  • Reduced time to weather the structure
  • Earlier introduction of following trades

The quicker erection time enables interior trades such as plastering and electrical wiring to begin work earlier in the build programme, as the interior will be exposed to weather for less time.

  • Can be built to exceed 60-year design life
  • Energy efficient when constructed to current standards
  • Fast heating due to low thermal mass

Their low thermal mass allows spaces enclosed by timber frames to heat up more quickly than masonry construction, however they will also tend to cool more quickly.

  • Reduced time on site reduces environmental nuisance and disruption to local residents
  • Engineered product
  • Factory controlled quality assurance in fabrication

Off site fabrication can allow higher quality to be achieved.

  • Efficient use of material due to controlled engineering and fabrication
  • Reduced construction time translates into reduced risk exposure

 

Potential Problems with Timber Frame Construction

 

  • Traditional procurement process
  • Additional design and engineering time
  • Modification of general arrangement drawings if based on masonry construction
  • Lack of experienced builders and erection crews
  • Lack of experience of following trades
  • Transportation and carriage access
  • Exposure to weather before enclosed
  • Work of following trades
  • Deficiency of site quality control
  • Combustibility of timber requires vigilant quality control to achieve required fire rating of separating and compartment walls

The fire resistance of timber frame buildings is achieved by a combination of the lining material, the timber structure and the insulation.

Additional fire protection can be given to the frame by the boarding used to clad it and fire stops installed to prevent spread through the cavity.

Recent fire tests commissioned by the Timber Frame Industry and the ITFMA showed that in general a 15mm Type A plasterboard is required to meet the Fire resistance of REI 30 for external walls (see detail).

The risk of fire can be increased if timber frames are not erected correctly, and during construction prior to fire protection being installed.

  • Susceptibility to decay of timber when exposed to excessive moisture

Timber frame structures must include a vapour barrier between the lining of the inner wall and the insulation, to prevent vapour passing through.

  • Acoustics

Timber frame structures may not achieve the same level of sound insulation as concrete or masonry as they are not as dense.

 

Timber Frame – Wall Detail (Service Cavity Wall)

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