We’re very proud to say that in late 2012 our deep retrofit & extension of a Monkstown semi-D was certified to 'EnerPHit' standard by the Passivhaus Institute of Germany. It is the first ‘Passive House’ or ‘EnerPHit’ retrofit of any building type to be certified in Ireland, & only the fifth ‘EnerPHit’ in the world. To add to this it was voted Green Residential Building of the year in 2013 at the annual Green Awards: a series of great achievements.
Homeowner, Pauline Conway, who had spent her early life in a house without piped water in rural Ireland and 13 years of her adult life working in African countries, wanted her home in Dublin to be an example of genuinely sustainable retrofit. To do this Pauline realised she needed to team up with an architectural practice capable of realising this ambition of making her house an exemplar of super-low (or deep) energy efficiency, water conservation and low carbon construction. Joseph Little Architects was the ideal partner.
We brought the BER (building energy rating) of this house from G to A3, a change in 90%. The project involved retrofitting the original house (101 m2) to the EnerPHit standard and building a two-storey side extension and one-storey rear extension (58 m2) to meet the Passive House standard.
We felt it was important that the retrofitted, extended semi-detached house would continue to fit into its suburban context from the street, while small elements such as the Juliette balcony and anodised rainwater goods would suggest that something special was within. For instance new clay bricks from the same source as the 1960s bricks (on the lower half of the front elevation) were cut down as slips to clad the new external wall insulation ensuring the completed house continued to complement its attached neighbour. The rear extension is clearly different as it orientates exactly to south then curves away to frame a dining table within and a deck without.
We made sure the retrofit resulted in a good distribution of light through the house (due to window design, rooflights, sunpipes and internal glass screen and staircase) and is very comfortable. It features 150mm external wall and brick slips to the original house and woodfibre external wall insulation to the two-storey extension. There's 300mm insulation under slab and 400mm in the attic! We tried to specify low carbon construction wherever possible. The specification also includes a high quality ventilation system with heat recovery, innovative Irish triple glazing, gravity-fed rainwater harvesting (feeding three toilet cisterns), and solar panels.
The house can be visited each October during Open House day. it's registered here on the International Passive House Association database. An article was published on the house in Passive House Plus magazine in March 2013: click here to read.