Passive Buildings and Active Occupants: In Pursuit of Zero Carbon Living

Martin-Murray--Shane-Colclough-&-Vivienne-BrophyPhotos and Review of the Feb 2014 PHAI Briefing at UCD

At the Passive House Briefing in UCD on Thursday 13th February 2014 the panel of speakers reflected a span of knowledge and experience from academia to industry.  Following the welcome address by Vivienne Brophy (UCD Energy Research Group), a number of interesting messages and themes arose from the presentations and follow-up discussion.

  • In our quest to meet the 2020 targets a change of focus is required to reduce energy demand vs the need to increase energy supply. This attitude-change would have a significant effect on the stated objectives of our proposed new electrical grid, and questions its validity.
  • We will need to continue to focus on improving living conditions of low income households – with the target of reducing deaths associated with fuel poverty. These stand at almost 2,000 per annum and yet there is no official methodology for addressing and solving the problem.
  • Joseph Little outlined a scalable proposed retrofit strategy of Integrated External Insulation & Ventilation in social housing which would improve the living conditions of the occupants of approx. 32,000 rendered terraced houses in the Dublin region.  This approach would give a scale that makes the overall cost per unit very achievable.
  • In his discussion on “Valuing Energy Efficiency” Fintan Smyth asked the key question: “How much value do we put on a comfortable home?” By working through the figures of his example he illustrated how a change of thinking can be brought back to the basics of cost vs value.  This is the mind-set that needs to change
  • User Behaviour:  Fear can be a major reason that prevents change.  Establishing change leaders within communities is a key feature to creating new norms.  Examples of success provide the opportunity for others to see the value of the “new norms”.  This is the threshold that PHAI needs to help people get over, by exhibiting examples and moderating the low energy story.

Panel Members

Moderator: Lisa Ryan; Martin Murray, PHAI;  Joseph Little, Joseph Little Architects; David Hughes, Irish Rail; Fintan Smyth, Saint-Gobain; Joan Tiernan, UCD School of Psychology.