A synopsis of our Retrofit Insulation Masterclass

Synopsis of Our Retrofit Insulation Masterclass

 Challenges solutions and opportunities to retrofitting insulation and airtightness in buildings

Retrofit Insulation Masterclass

On the 25th and 27th of October Ecological Building Systems in conjunction with their German partners pro clima & CALSITHERM delivered a fully attended Retrofit Insulation Masterclass providing a unique opportunity for architects, engineers and building professionals to learn about the latest developments in delivering high performance, healthy low energy retrofits. 

The event was attended by building professionals from all over Ireland and the UK over 2 days.

Proceedings were opened with a Keynote address by Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal, Damien English TD.

The minister complimented the state of the art training centre and positive contribution Ecological have made to the Irish building industry. He went on to state that a core objective of “Rebuilding Ireland” is delivering quality and energy efficient housing in a way that meets current needs while supporting sustainable communities and maximising the contribution of the built environment to addressing climate change. The minister also highlighted that under the Social Housing Investment Programme his Department is providing, via local authorities, funding of up to €15,000 euro per dwelling for necessary works such as attic and wall insulation, the replacement of windows and external doors and the fitting of energy-efficient condensing boilers. To ensure the delivery of quality homes a trained and skilled workforce is required that can deliver dwellings built to high-quality standards, at scale and in a consistent and repeatable manner at a reasonable cost.

While there are many challenges currently facing the housing sector, the minister stated that the Government remains fully committed to its climate change and energy efficiency targets and retrofitting is an important element of achieving them. The delivery of construction skills training programmes such as this, in retrofitting is an important contributor to achieving Irelands climate change targets and delivering quality housing.

The European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive requires that all new buildings will be Nearly Zero Energy Buildings by the end of December 2020 and that new buildings owned and occupied by public authorities will be nearly zero energy after the end of December 2018. The Directive defines a Nearly Zero Energy Building or NZEB as a building that has a very high energy performance where the nearly zero or very low amount of energy required should be covered to a very significant extent by energy from renewable sources including energy from renewable sources produced on-site or nearby. However, what is of particular interest from a retrofitting perspective is that the Directive will also apply to major renovations where more than 25% of the surface area of the building envelope undergoes renovation.

Every country within the EU must have a national renovation strategy in place before April 30th, 2017 under revisions to the EU Energy Efficiency Directive in September this year. In Ireland, residential buildings account for 27 % of Irelands total energy use and 12% of carbon emissions.  Niall Crosson, Senior Engineer with Ecological stated that “Retrofitting thermal insulation in buildings presents a unique opportunity to significantly reduce heat losses, improve comfort and reduce fuel bills.  Retrofitting thermal insulation and airtightness in buildings can lead to numerous challenges, however. Unforeseen consequences such as condensation, mould growth, building damage and a reduction in indoor air quality can occur by using inappropriate materials and poor execution of detailing at the planning and building phase. The aim of our retrofit masterclass is to raise awareness of the implications of poorly planned retrofits and the issues that can arise. The last thing we wish to do is end up retrofitting our retrofits. Sadly, we have seen examples of this already”.


 Dr Gregor Scheffler highlights risks of applying impervious insulation inside solid masonry walls at Retrofit Masterclass

Dr.-Ing. Gregor A. Scheffler of Dr Scheffler & Partner GmbH Dresden http://www.ib-scheffler.de/home/ presented the latest guidance in relation to thermally upgrading solid walls and minimising the risk of condensation and mould growth. Managing Director of Ingenieurb├╝ro Dr.Scheffler & Partner GmbH in Dresden, Germany, he is a member of the national standardisation committee (DIN) on moisture & also a member of the WTA, head of Technical Commission 6 – building Physics.

Dr Gregor highlighted the risks of internally insulating solid walls with inappropriate impervious synthetic thermal insulation and the increased risks associated with such systems. Dr Gregor highlighted how capillary active thermal insulation systems such as CALSITHERM offer much more robust protection against long terms moisture issues and mould, compared to impervious synthetic insulation systems.

A particular area of focus for Dr Gregor was the influence of internal wall insulation systems on timber members built into the walls, such as joists ends. He highlighted that exposed brick walls were particularly prone to long term moisture issues when internal insulation systems are applied. Impervious synthetic internal insulation systems increased the risk of moisture saturating timbers built into external walls. A more robust solution is to use a capillary active internal insulation such as CALSITHERM, combined with a diffusion-open external impregnation of the brick, such as DIASEN BKK ECO.

He also highlighted the importance of addressing thermal bridges at critical junctions when internal insulation is installed on solid walls.

Ecological were also delighted to welcome Michael Forester, senior engineer with pro clima, who presented a series of insightful retrofit presentations. Michael outlined the key steps to attaining a safe flat roof, in terms of condensation risk management. He also presented how to attain optimum airtightness, thermal continuity and vapour control on a pitched roof with externally applied pro clima membranes such as SOLITEX PLUS. 

Roman Szypura of Clioma House presented a case study of a Passivhaus retrofit of a barn in Sligo with Daemstatt Cellulose and pro clima INTELLO PLUS on the walls, as well as GUTEX ULTRATHERM on the roof.


Finally, Frank Cooney of Cooney Architects presented a conservation led refurbishment of a 17th-century house to achieve both Building Energy Rating B2 and International Passivhaus standard.  Franks presentation highlighted many of the unique challenges in such a retrofit. CALSITHERM, GUTEX Woodfibre insulation and the range of diffusion open pro clima airtightness membranes and tapes were used attain the onerous standard.

At the end of each day, a practical demonstration was provided. On day 1 presented an airtightness demonstration.

At the end of our second day, experienced lime plasterer, Dave Broderick of DB PLASTER demonstration how to apply and plaster CALSITHERM CLIMATE BOARD.

Following the Masterclass attendees enthusiastically requested another series of seminars with a clear interest in durable retrofit solutions.  Ecological plan to hold another Masterclass series based on this early next year.

For more information regarding the Masterclass, and training updates please do not hesitate to contact Ecological on info@ecologicalbuildingsystems.com


By Niall Crosson, Senior Engineer, BTech,MEngSc, CEPHC. MIEI




Posted on Wednesday, 23 November 2016
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