design + energy + excellence

Tag: Sustainability (Page 1 of 8)

Irish Architects Declare Climate & Biodiversity Emergency

Climate change is a serious global issue. The use of fossil fuels as our main source of energy generation is largely contributing to the problem. Human activity is releasing billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into the earth’s atmosphere and adding substantially to the greenhouse effect.

Buildings and construction play a major part, accounting for nearly 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions whilst also having a significant impact on our natural habitats.

As architects, we have the ability and responsibility to provide solutions that minimize the climate impact of the structures we design.

Larry Strain

Together with our clients, Architects will need to commission and design buildings, cities and infrastructures as indivisible components of a larger, constantly regenerating and self-sustaining system.

The research and technology exist for Architects to begin that transformation now, but what has been lacking is collective will. Recognising this, and as one of the founding signatories of Architects Declare , Isabel Barros Architects are committing to strengthen our working practices to create architecture and urbanism that has a more positive impact on the world around us.

This collective effort seeks to:

  • Raise awareness of the climate and biodiversity emergencies and the urgent need for action amongst our clients and supply chains.
  • Advocate for faster change in our industry towards regenerative design practices and a higher Governmental funding priority to support this.
  • Establish climate and biodiversity mitigation principles as the key measure of our industry’s success: demonstrated through awards, prizes and listings.
  • Share knowledge and research to that end on an open source basis.
  • Evaluate all new projects against the aspiration to contribute positively to mitigating climate breakdown, and encourage our clients to adopt this approach.
  • Upgrade existing buildings for extended use as a more carbon efficient alternative to demolition and new build whenever there is a viable choice.
  • Include life cycle costing, whole life carbon modelling and post occupancy evaluation as part of our basic scope of work, to reduce both embodied and operational resource use.
  • Adopt more regenerative design principles in our studios, with the aim of designing architecture and urbanism that goes beyond the standard of net zero carbon in use.
  • Collaborate with engineers, contractors and clients to further reduce construction waste.
  • Accelerate the shift to low embodied carbon materials in all our work.
  • Minimise wasteful use of resources in architecture and urban planning, both in quantum and in detail

The make-up of greenhouse gas emissions differs in Ireland from most other European countries because of the role Ireland plays in supplying meat and dairy products across Europe and the world. Agriculture (largely through methane associated with our herds) makes up 32% of emissions from sectors in Ireland compared to just 11% in the rest of Europe. However, in all other major sectors (Electricity, Buildings, Transport, and Waste Management) we also have a higher carbon footprint per head of population.

Ireland faces a number of challenges in reducing emissions from our buildings. Our homes use 7% more energy than the EU average and emit 58% more carbon dioxide equivalent. Our buildings are 70% reliant on fossil fuels, including oil fired boilers; over 80% of our homes and other buildings assessed for their BER have a rating of C or worse; and the current annual retrofit activity for existing stock is far too limited (approximately 23,000, mainly shallow, retrofits).

Climate Action Plan 2019 , Government of Ireland

We are aware that for everyone working in the construction industry a paradigm shift in our behaviour is required in order to achieve a substantial reduction of the worldwide CO2 emissions. We will do our best to support this shift while encouraging our clients to also adopt this approach.

Isabel Barros Architects in Wexford are committed to face these challenges by fundamentally rethinking the way we design, construct and operate buildings.

As of January 2020 a total of 69 Irish architects/architectural practices have signed the declaration. We hope that many more will join us in making this commitment. Please visit https://ie.architectsdeclare.com/ to join.

Better architecture for a better world!

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All New Homes Will Be Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB)

Amendments to Part L of the Building Regulations (relating to the conservation of fuel and energy in dwellings) will come into effect on 01 November 2019.

All new homes will have a typical Building Energy Rating (BER) of A2 and will be 70% more energy efficient and emit 70% less carbon dioxide than 2005 performance levels.

What is a Nearly-Zero Energy Building (NZEB)?

‘Nearly zero-energy building’ means a building that has a very high energy performance. The nearly zero or very low amount of energy required should be covered to a very significant extent by energy from renewable sources, including energy from renewable sources produced on-site or nearby.

Are there any exceptions to the new regulations?

Yes, but only if planning approval or permission has been applied for on or before 31st October 2019 and substantial work has been completed by 31st October 2020.

“Substantial work has been completed” means that the structure of the external walls of the dwelling has been erected.

 What are the key changes to TGD L Dwellings 2019?

  • MPEPC (Maximum Permitted Energy Performance Coefficient)=0.30, in order to achieve the acceptable primary energy consumption rate.
  • MPCPC (Maximum Permitted Carbon Performance Coefficient)=0.35, to demonstrate that an acceptable CO2 emission rate has been achieved.
  • Where a dwelling undergoes major renovation, the energy performance of the whole dwelling should be improved to Cost Optimal level insofar as this is technically, functionally and economically feasible.
  • Introduction of a Renewable Energy Ratio (RER) of 20%.
  • Reduction of air permeability backstop from 7m3 /hr/m2 to 5m3 /hr/m2.
  • Table 1- Reduction of wall and floor backstop U-Value from 0.21W/m2K to 0.18 W/m2K.
  • Table 1- Reduction of window backstop U-Value from 1.6 W/m2K to 1.4 W/m2K.
  • Inclusion of guidance to avoid overheating in dwellings.
  • Par 1.3.2.4 – removal of variation of U-Value with percentage glazing.
  • Introduction of calculation of Ru value for corridors in apartments.

How can compliance be achieved?

The correct specifications need to be prepared by your Architect to your specific project. Compliance is then demonstrated using the DEAP (Dwelling Energy Assessment Procedure) software.

Below is an example prepared by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government for a semi-detached dwelling with 126 sq.m. and with heat pump for space heating and continuous mechanical extract ventilation.

NZEB example specification
Semi-detached dwelling with 126 sq.m. and with heat pump for space heating and continuous mechanical extract ventilation

A nearly zero energy buildings (NZEB) future – Minister English reminds construction sector to be prepared for new building regulations on energy efficiency

What’s All the Fuss About the Revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

Overview of Key Changes to TGD L – Dwellings 2019

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What’s All the Fuss About the Revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

The amendment of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) is one of the most important changes that has occurred in the EU buildings sector in the last 16 years.

Under the revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD):

  • EU countries will have to establish stronger long-term renovation strategies, aiming at decarbonising the national building stocks by 2050, and with a solid financial component.
  • A common European scheme for rating the smart readiness of buildings, optional for Member States, will be introduced.
  • Smart technologies will be further promoted, for instance through requirements on the installation of building automation and control systems and on devices that regulate temperature at room level.
  • E-mobility will be supported by introducing minimum requirements for car parks over a certain size and other minimum infrastructure for smaller buildings.
  • EU countries will have to express their national energy performance requirements in ways that allow cross-national comparisons.
  • Health and well-being of building users will be promoted, for instance through an increased consideration of air quality and ventilation.

Other requirements under the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive include:

  • All new buildings must be nearly zero-energy buildings by 31 December 2020.
  • Energy performance certificates must be issued when a building is sold or rented, and they must also be included in all advertisements for the sale or rental of buildings.
  • EU countries must establish inspection schemes for heating and air conditioning systems or put in place measures with equivalent effect.
  • EU countries must set cost-optimal minimum energy performance requirements for new buildings, for the major renovation of existing buildings, and for the replacement or retrofit of building elements (heating and cooling systems, roofs, walls and so on).
  • EU countries must draw up lists of national financial measures to improve the energy efficiency of buildings.

What is the challenge?

  • The Commission reached an agreement that includes a binding energy efficiency target for the EU for 2030 of 32.5%.
  • The risk of the directive being ineffective is high if countries and local authorities do not enforce it correctly.
  • Around 200 million buildings need to be renovated. EU countries must make energy efficient renovations to at least 3% of the total floor area of buildings owned and occupied by central government.
  • EU governments should only purchase buildings which are highly energy efficient.
  • EU countries must draw up long-term national building renovation strategies which can be included in their National Energy Efficiency Action Plans.
  • Member states are to provide for set system requirements in respect to installation, sizing, adjustment and controls. This applies to heating systems, hot water, air conditioning and large ventilation systems.
  • Cost optimal performance – the integration between cost optimality and high performance technical solutions underpins the deployment of NZEBs.

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