Passive House development in Ireland

Back in 2004, the first Passivhaus building in Ireland appeared literally “Out of the blue”. This was the name chosen by the Landscape architect Tomas O’ Leary, who decided to design his family home in County Wicklow combining a modern and elegant design with energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. The “Out of the blue” project initiated the history of Passive House development in Ireland and in all the English-speaking world.

Out of the blue
Out of the blue

A few years later, in 2010 the Passive House Association of Ireland was created by a group of enthusiastic experts, with the purpose to facilitate, promote and educate, as well as to develop a strong identity, understanding and demand for the Passive House concept in the country. Since then, the Association has been active across Ireland and Northern Ireland, with local chapters in Dublin Cork and Enniskillen.

The development of Passivhaus in Ireland follows the principles set by the German Standard and is deeply connected to the international network of PH communities led by the iPHA. After the first Passivhaus design in 2004 many other were developed, with the Standard being applied mainly to private housing, but also to commercial buildings and university campus. Across the whole country of Ireland 45 Passivhaus buildings are registered, and a total of 20,000 m2.

The Irish PH community acknowledged the lack of specialist knowledge and expertise in the field and spent great effort in training key personnel. Over the years, 249 professionals have been trained in Ireland to achieve the Passive House designer and consultant certification (one of the highest number in the world per capita), while training courses are delivered by Irish qualified tutors in China, Australia and the U.S.A. Ireland has also been exporting overseas, not only its design expertise, but also PH certified manufacturing products, especially to the U.K and USA. The Irish PH community has also been successfully engaging with public authorities and influencing local decision making, as exemplified by the introduction of the PH Standard as a mandatory requirement in the local Planning development plan of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Council in 2015.

The relatively mild Irish climate offers ideal conditions for the application of Passivhaus. The country’s traditional housing stock is especially in need of better building and energy standards. In a country where the past economic boom favoured poor quality construction, the dependence on energy import is heavy, and fuel poverty constitutes a real and urgent issue, the Passive House Standard has great potential for further development, representing the ideal solution for environmental, social and economic concerns.