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Official magazine of EascaEasca
Eamon Ryan's eco upgrade E-mail
Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Eamon Ryan's eco upgrade
During his tenure as energy minister Eamon Ryan instigated plans to energy upgrade Ireland’s draughty, damp housing stock. Ryan and his wife, writer Victoria White, show Construct Ireland how their own home has been given the green treatment, and architect Mike Haslam of Solearth describes the project.
When it came to retrofitting his 1950s red brick house in Clonskeagh, south Dublin, Green Party leader and former energy minister Eamon Ryan walked the talk, giving the dwelling an extensive and ecological energy upgrade. As part of the renovation — designed by Solearth Ecological Architecture — the house was insulated and received a new ecological extension and a variety of new green energy systems, including solar thermal and photovoltaic panels.

"I didn't take as much of a hands-on approach," says Ryan, who was minister at the time of the renovation. "But I suppose we were looking at making the house as energy efficient as possible, and I enjoyed that aspect of it."

Extensive glazing allows abundant natural light into the extension, which Victoria says is
Extensive glazing allows abundant natural light into the extension, which Victoria says is "quite energy efficient even though it's north facing".


His wife, the writer and journalist Victoria White, was intimately involved with the project. She knew she wanted a period home when the couple were house-hunting. "I love mid twentieth century style," she says, adding that though the house was built in the 1950s, its design is more reflective of the 1930s.

Because they weren't going to buy a modern energy efficient house, the couple wanted a period dwelling that had little renovation done, so they could start refurbishing from scratch. "The house was just perfect for me," Victoria says. "It was pretty much untouched apart from a couple of very flimsy 1970s extensions."

Victoria says the estate the house is in has an "arts and crafts" design style, and maintaining the look of the house was essential for her — this ruled out external insulation, and meant the front of the house got period-look double- glazed windows – ponderosa pine casement windows from Marvin Architectural – rather than triple-glazing. "It was going to be impossible to get a period look with a triple-glazed window," she says. "The windows are the eyes of the house. They're more important than anything in terms of the look of it."

But the poroton (fired clay) block extension at the back got triple glazing, and Eamon's impressed with its performance. "It's quite energy efficient even though it's north-facing," he says of the extension. "You don't need to heat it unless it's really cold. So it's been a real pleasure to see something just work."



 

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