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While the principles of low energy building apply equally for new build and upgrades, the reality is that htting passive levels becomes much trickier when retrofitting. The Passive House Institute have taken this on board and created a retrofit standard that is ambitious but achievable.

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Official magazine of EascaEasca
EnerPHit E-mail
Wednesday, 01 February 2012

Bungalow refurb & extension, Birr, Co Offaly

This 1970s bungalow provided Steve O’Leary with his refurbishment challenge. He is in the process of adding a large extension onto the original 1,000 square foot bungalow, and ensuring both are highly insulated and airtight. The plan, says O’Leary, was to minimise cost and waste, maximise value for money and do as much DIY as possible. “I want the house to be filled with light, maintain a stable temperature all year round, and favour insulation and cold bridge removal as an upfront cost rather than investing in heating systems that would need ongoing maintenance and eventual replacement.” O’Leary invested a huge amount of his own time researching and assisting on the build, and introduced a wide range of materials in order to deal with the differing conditions in the new and old parts of the house.

Working out a window detail
Working out a window detail

According to O’Leary, the involvement of Archie O’Donnell of Integrated Energy had a key influence on the energy efficient approach and the overall success of the build. “I got in contact with him through the Construct Ireland forum. He brought considerable industry knowledge of what worked and what didn’t work,” he says. “A lot of people try to go it alone and turn their nose up on paying someone to advise them on insulation and energy efficiency, but I think it was money well spent.”

Triple-glazed Unilux windows and doors
Triple-glazed Unilux windows and doors

He also relied heavily on carpenter/roofer Andrew Griffin on site. “He almost became a co-project manager and he was an invaluable source of contacts and expertise,” said O’Leary.

Training was one of the central elements of the project. “Engineer Hugh O’Rourke of Thor Designs in Birr and I visited Liam Keating’s (of Keating Insulation) low energy 200mm cavity wall house in Wexford to look at structural issues, together with issues such as window installation and cavity closing. Hugh, Andrew Griffin and I attended the one day Siga airtightness course so all of us were up to speed on that. For €50 including lunch, it was a bargain. Later in the build I attended an Itho one day heat recovery ventilation installers course in the UK, and afterwards I installed the Itho unit myself.” PHPP calculations are showing a heat energy load of 25kWh/m2/yr, right on the EnerPHit target.

225mm cavity walls with stainless steel ties
225mm cavity walls with stainless steel ties


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