Building industry objections to passive house are deeply flawed | Passive House +

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17 June 2015

  • In “Building industry objections to passive house are deeply flawed” Passive House Plus 11 June 2015, recent objections by NAMA and the Construction Industry Federation to the adoption of the higher passive house standard in the DunLaoghaire-Rathdown County Council development plan are criticised. Extract:

“…the Irish Times reported that both Nama and the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) had objected to plans by Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council to make the passive house house standard mandatory for all new buildings under the local authority’s latest development plan, which is due to come into force next year.

The objection of the CIF is not surprising, as the organisation has a long history of opposing improvements in energy efficiency standards…The opposition of Nama is more interesting…The implication appears to be that Dún Laoghaire Rathdown making the passive house standard mandatory would, either through extra cost or the more rigorous design and construction process required, slow down the speed at which new housing can be built. Meanwhile the Construction Industry Federation has erroneously argued that if the passive house standard is introduced, very few new homes will be built in Dun Laghaoire Rathdown in 2016.

All of these arguments are wrong…Ireland already has the highest number of certified passive house tradespeople of any country in the world, and among the highest number of certified passive house designers. So we have the technical expertise…The argument it will cost more to build to the passive house standard is also wrong…At the same time, Wexford developer Michael Bennett & Sons is now planning to offer passive house certified homes in Enniscorthy for just €170,000…But all the evidence we at Passive House Plus have seen suggests it is no more expensive to build a passive house than to build to the current building regs.

…If developers perceive that construction will cost more, they may be willing to bid less for land, driving its value down, meaning Nama will earn less for it.

But perhaps the most disappointing thing is that Nama and the CIF both seem to be arguing for the same quantity-over-quality approach that defined the construction boom of the noughties: throw ‘em up as quickly and cheaply as possible and worry about the consequences later…

But despite all the post-boom talk about upskiling the construction workforce, it seems Nama and the CIF are just eager for us to return to business-as-usual.”

For full article click Here.

Other posts of interest:

Regulations add up to €60k to house cost | Karl Deeter

‘So far, we have been spared tragedy”- the legacy of boom-time housing | Michael Clifford

Building regulations make Dodge City look good | Irish Examiner

Complaint Procedures for BC(A)R SI.9? Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI.ie)

Dáil: Fall in Housing Construction following introduction of Building Control Regulations

Simon Carswell: Politicians, Construction industry lobbying and banking | look back 10

BC(A)R Review Meeting is “…a gathering top-heavy with vested interests.” | Irish Examiner

“These houses were rubbish” | Lobbying in the Construction Industry – Part 2

1 thought on “Building industry objections to passive house are deeply flawed | Passive House +

  1. Andrew Alexander MRIAI

    “The construction industry has missed the boat when it comes to objecting to higher energy efficiency standards based on cost. The upgrade in energy efficiency standards in the 2008 and 2010 revisions to Part L of the building regulations did increase build costs, the Department of Environment estimated, by about €14,500, for a typical semi-detached home, compared to the 2005 standards. But all the evidence we at Passive House Plus have seen suggests it is no more expensive to build a passive house than to build to the current building regs.”

    If it is empirically no more expensive to build a passive house than it is to build to the current regulations, there is no need for the standard to become mandatory. Promoters of Passiv Haus should be able to sell their concepts to the industry and to clients based on their own merits.

    If Passiv Haus is to become mandatory it should become mandatory – period. To do this would involve a re-draft of Technical Guidance documents and not just the section on conservation of fuel and energy. And how would such a standard be written into the technical guidance documents? In the same vein as DEAP? If that was the case then it would not be mandatory – alternatives to the use of DEAP can be employed at the designer’s discretion.

    The strength of the building regulations in not mandating a specific privately developed voluntary standard such as Passiv Haus, well researched (and ever evolving I’m sure) as it may be is that opinions about standards change. Design solutions which one day may be considered cutting edge and highly desirable can become taboo overnight.

    There are those within the building industry for example who, on thermal grounds, champion the merits of external insulation. There are also those within the insurance industry who are wary of its combustibility and have the videos to prove it. There are those who championed the use of pre-cast floors in British multi-storey housing – until a gas explosion at Ronan Point. Regulators need to have the freedom to re-write legislation independent of any concern that they might be compromising a clause in a specific privately developed voluntary standard.

    And what happens when those who regulate Passiv Haus want to change an aspect of the Passiv Haus standard based on research from ever more completed examples in latitudes and climates outside central Europe – do the technical guidance documents immediately become invalid?

    Reply

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