Sunday 19 February 2017

Panic stations over Passive Houses seems a terrible waste of energy

Published 18/08/2015 | 02:30

We have more than 340 passivhaus pros – the highest number in the English - speaking world
We have more than 340 passivhaus pros – the highest number in the English - speaking world

President Michael D Higgins told the international conference on climate change recently that it would take “moral courage to swim against the tide to change our models of economics and development” and that there was a “need for candour about change and the obstacles that were in its path”. 

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Really? Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly has expressly demanded that two local authorities delete all references to Passive House building standards in their 2016-2021 development plans. If not, he would invoke the rarely-used Section 31 of the Planning Act 2000, which allows him to veto local development plans.

What is this Passive House that has an environment minister so determined to prevent low-energy and climate-change initiatives? Unlike the Aggressive House we call the Dáil, “passivhaus” is a long-term, energy-saving, low-cost concept. They can be one-off designs, an estate of semi-detached houses or apartment blocks. Passivhaus is based on insulation and air-exchange, providing an ambient 21 degrees throughout the building without the need for radiators or underfloor heating. It does not require the alternative energy efficiency methods contained in Part L of our Building Regulations 2011. The minister warned that not complying with Part L could leave Ireland vulnerable to infringement proceedings for failure to transpose Directive EU/31/2010. 

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