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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

Upgrading a nine year old house, Co Wexford

OLS architects in Co Wexford are overseeing an EnerPHit refurbishment of a two-storey house located in a built up area in Castlebridge, Co Wexford. The usual challenges are in evidence here; poor orientation, window distribution and overshading are all issues, mitigated somewhat by the house’s relatively modest size. While the client wants the refurb to deliver a comfortable home that’s cheap to heat, he also needs to address very serious damp issues. Cathal O’Leary of OLS says that the house is full of mould. “There’s mould all around the perimeter of every window. Upstairs, there’s mould where the first floor walls meet the ceilings. The whole place is terrible really. You pull back a chair and there’s mould growth in the corner.”

OLS’s sub-floor level external insulation is designed to solve the mould problemOLS’s sub-floor level external insulation is designed to solve the mould problem
OLS’s sub-floor level external insulation is designed to solve the mould problem
The Passive House Institute’s EnerPHit criteria for refurbished buildings deals specifically with this issue: “Without exception, all standard sections and connection details must be planned and implemented so that there is no excessive moisture accumulation on the interior surfaces or in the building component structure.”


 Cathal O’Leary says that the initial thermal bridge and condensation risk analysis calculations for the house showed that the internal surface temperature in the mould affected areas was around 10 or 11C.  “The rule of thumb is if the internal temperature drops below 12C, you have a condensation or dew point, which leads to moisture and mould growth.” Proposed thermal bridge details will bring those temperatures up to around 17/18C. This, together with better ventilation and insulation will combine to provide the right conditions to remove interstitial and surface condensation that’s causing the problem. “This house was built in 2002,” says O’Leary. “It’s a shocking indictment of the housing boom and the supposed good times.”


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