nZeb are Homes of the Future | Minister Damien English

28 March 2017

The following is part off an address by Mr. Damien English, T.D. Minister of State in the  Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government at the Silken Park Industry Day on Wednesday, 22 February 2017.  The Minister outlines some of the latest steps being made in Ireland’s journey towards nZeb building. See link here. Minister English said:

“The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive has set ambitious building energy performance standards which we are working hard to ensure that we achieve… As you may be aware the Directive defines a Nearly Zero Energy Building or NZEB as a building that has a very high energy performance where 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. This definition was inserted into the Building Regulations in January of this year through the Building Regulations (Amendment) Regulations 2017…

This upcoming review of Part L in respect of buildings other than dwellings will clearly set out NZEB performance requirement for new non-residential buildings…

We are fully committed to meeting our obligations under the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and intend that all new buildings will be Nearly Zero Energy Buildings by 31 December 2020 and that new buildings owned and occupied by public authorities will be nearly zero energy after the end of December 2018.”

Established house-builders Durkans have made the news with a scheme of first time buyer homes in Dublin built to the passive standard.   The view expressed by some sections of the industry, including previous Minister Alan Kelly, that more demanding building standards somehow inhibit construction activity by driving up costs, has no basis in fact.

Patrick Durkan, developer of the project,  says that the decision to go for such a high spec product in phase two, and a fully passive one in phase three, was market-led.  “The challenge was to work with our financial partners to build something that was really cost-effective but make it as efficient and attractive and saleable as possible…We don’t talk about eco or green or passive. Believe it or not, that’s just a by-product of what we’re marketing.”

This earlier article “Ground-breaking housing scheme captures one developer’s journey to passive” Passive House + Magazine, Dec 19th 2016, outlines the impressive detail behind the Silken Park development. The article discusses the second phase of Durkan Residential’s ambitious Passive House Standard scheme in south-west Dublin. The project bridges the gap between two extremes: while phase one was built to the 2002 building regulations, phase three — which will break ground year — will comprise 59 passive certified units.

Other posts of interest:

ALERT | NZEB spec for public buildings

Alert | Near Zero Energy Building (NZEB)

Does the Minister want a cut-price building control service? | Simon McGuinness

Letters to the (BRegs Blog) Editors: Simon McGuinness MRIAI

Breaking the Mould | Joseph Little Architects

Designers create the ‘impossible’ zero-carbon house in 16 weeks | BBC News

Irish government in row over passivhaus eco building regulations | The Guardian

Passive Resistance | DECLG versus DLR

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

Part L compliance – Who wants a building control service provided by cowboys?

Part L | DECLG slowdown: Better building or more red-tape?

Is there a regulation for thermal bridging condensation risk? | Part L

Other Alert Posts:

ALERT | RIAI Architectural Technologist Register?

ALERT | New Hotel Regulations

Alert | Construction Contracts Act

ALERT : Asbestos Contamination in Wicklow

Repost: FURTHER ALERT | CIF + RIAI Contracts

Repost: FURTHER ALERT | CIF + RIAI Contracts

ALERT | CIF + RIAI Contracts

RIAI ALERT: Inspection Fees for House Extensions

RIAI ALERT: Problems Lodging a 7-Day Notice on the BCMS

1 thought on “nZeb are Homes of the Future | Minister Damien English

  1. Michael O'Neill

    Reply to – nZeb are Homes of the Future – Minister Damien English

    I see the work done by Durkan’s and Jay Stuart focusing on the price point and the quality of the work as a great advance for the Irish Building Industry. They appear to have shown they are not beholden to the timber frame merchants, while still being able to achieve high standards of insulation and sealing

    One major plus point for me is that the contractor appears to be using Rockwool for the insulation and not flammable plastic / petrochemical products. Rockwool is inherently fireproof and together with properly detailed timber frame construction may be able to offer the required standard of fire safety.

    Another plus is that the contractor appears to be using concrete block construction and hopefully this means concrete block party walls.

    Let us also hope they are using non-continuous and/or non-flammable battens to support the roof covering and that the junction at the top of the party wall is properly sealed above and below the roofing felt/membrane.

    See my previous comment in relation to timber frame “party walls” and detailing here:

    One possible red flag is the use of sealing tapes and membranes. Why? Houses settle. Timber frames expand and contract. Shrinkage and movement cracks develop. Will the sealing and insulation standards that are achieved now continue to persist in the coming years – or will these membranes and tapes become brittle, losing their suppleness, cracking and tearing and giving decreased performance over time? Many of the membranes are covered up so replacement or renewal is not a simple matter.

    Another red flag is the use of colour coded silicone sealant at the joint between the wall and the window sill – a critical point for protecting against rainwater ingress. Sealants tend to be affected by UV radiation and weathering and require maintenance and renewal over time. What is the working life of this material?

    The penultimate red flag is the use of what seems to be an applied brick finish – this is anathema to many architects and may lower the perceived quality of the finished product, thus alienating many potential purchasers

    The final red flag is that all of these products appear to be British. At a time of economic renewal we need to keep a sharp eye on where our money is going – balance of payments deficit, anyone?

    These things being said, it’s great to see a contractor not afraid to show his detailing and discuss how he is using specialists and testing to support his work.

    I believe that this level of openness and transparency is the way forward for all competent Irish contractors looking to develop an excellent reputation – by showing us the evidence of the compliance of their built work with the Building Regulations to differentiate themselves and their new products from those of the rogue builders who delivered the non-compliant disasters of the Tiger Years.


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