Ecological Host Regional PHAI Briefing

Ecological were delighted to host a regional Passive House Association of Ireland Briefing at our training centre on the 10th of October. As Patron members, we are always keen to support the development of Passivhaus and nZEB standards in Ireland.

The event was very well attended, which goes to show there is a desire to learn and become informed on the topics discussed, event at 5 O’clock on a Tuesday evening. With a very well-informed speaker line up it was an information packed evening, where a range of topics were presented.

PHAI Evening Event
(Pictured L-R: Paul McAlister, Michael Hanratty, Maurice Falvey, Niall Crosson, Gary O’Sullivan, Emmet Nee)

The event was opened by PHAI Chair and Passivhaus Architect Paul McAlister, who reiterated the goals of the PHAI to educate and bring Passivhaus to the whole of Ireland both North and South, in a similar way to our successful rugby team.

Niall Crosson - Putting People First - Airtightness & Indoor Air Quality 

I delivered this presentation earlier this year in London at the Association for Sustainable Building Products Conference. My Presentation provided an overview of the basic principles of airtightness and referred to numerous publications with conflicting views as to the benefits and health implications of low energy buildings. While energy efficiency is very important it must not be to the detriment of comfort and a healthy living environment. Reducing the risk of mould and maintaining a healthy living environment has been proven to be attained in airtight buildings with controlled ventilation. I also highlighted that while ventilation is crucial we must become more aware of the materials we use to construct, and bring in to our buildings and the potential Volatile Organic Compounds off-gassed by these items. It is up to manufacturers and specifiers to ensure the materials used within buildings meet relevant approvals such as Sentinel Haus, The Blue Angel Standard, The Living Building Standards Red List or the Irish Home Performance Index.

Maurice Falvey: Ventilation, Air Heating and Cooling in Low Energy Passivhaus/nZEB buildings. 

Maurice (Director of Nilan Ireland) has supplied heat pumps and ventilation units to some of the lowest energy buildings in Ireland. Among the many points in his presentation, Maurice highlighted the ability of his ventilation system to contribute to both heatings and cooling a building. A fascinating point was the integration of the cooker hood to the Nilan System which is now been utilised in Dublin apartments, a technology which has been in use for over 30 years in Denmark. A highlight is his presentation was the monitored indoor air quality in the recently completed Madeira Oaks project, where CO2 levels remained almost permanently below 1000ppm, whereas in conventional naturally ventilated buildings these levels are often far exceeded. What is impressive about Madeira Oaks is that this housing scheme was completed with no additional building fabric costs compared to conventional buildings to TGD Part L.


Gary O'Sullivan: Airtightness testing and Thermal modelling standards.

Gary O’Sullivan (NSAI) highlighted that there will be a steep uptake in demand for NSAI registered blower door testers with the latest review to TGD Part L for Non Domestic Buildings targeting nZEB, with much more onerous levels of airtightness required. Gary Also highlighted the significant influence the default thermal bridging factors can have on overall building performance when one carries out a BER assessment, all the more reason for seeking to attain better thermal bridging factors compared to the defaults employed in TGD Part L. It is areas such as this that our BOSIG structural thermal insulation can be most beneficial.

Emmet Nee: Fabric First case study – through the contractor’s eyes.

Following on Gary’s technical presentation, it was time to view a more practical presentation from Emmet Nee (Long Life Structures) t

Emmet presented the first Passivhaus he built in 2010. It was welcome to hear lessons Emmet learned from this project which has led to him and his company becoming one of Irelands most skilled Passivhaus builders. Emmet opened up by comparing how a builder approached a standard build in the past compared to a Passivhaus building. He shared many of the real challenges which occur on site, especially on his first Passivhaus project. He also highlighted the benefits of using GUTEX woodfibre board on the outside of the house. Despite never using it before, as a carpenter working with GUTEX was second nature and he has been using woodfibre board insulation since. The workmanship and skill of carpentry in delivering one of the most beautiful arched ceilings you are ever likely to see left the audience in no doubt that Emmet’s workmanship goes well beyond that even required for Passivhaus building!

Michael Hanratty: The road to NZEB in Ireland. 

Michael (MD of IHER) outlined the significant changes to TGD Part L which are fast approaching to attain nZEB. This will see an improvement in performance in the region of 60% over 2008 TGD Part L! There will be major improvements in backstop U values, airtightness, thermal bridging, window performance, lighting, controls and renewables to name a few.

Michael also provided an overview of the changes to TGD Part L for dwellings which are also extremely onerous to attain nZEB which will apply from 2019.

Michael went on to describe the Episcope/Tabula project. The overall strategic objective of the EPISCOPE project was to make the energy refurbishment processes in the European housing sector transparent and effective. This helps ensure that the climate protections targets will actually be attained and that corrective or enhancement actions can be taken in due time if needed. The data and information Michael has to hand in relation to the energy performance of existing houses is incredible. A highlight for me in Michaels presentation was that we need to spend at least €1 Billion per year from now to 2050 to meet our 80% reduction targets….now if ever there was justification for Passivhaus/Enerphit or nZEB this is it!

The event finished up with a range of questions from the audience. Overall the event was a great success and Ecological wish to extend our sincere thanks to all our speakers and the PHAI’s Paul McAlister for venturing down to Athboy on a wintery Autumn Evening. We look forward to the next event!

More information about training and events coming up with Ecological Building Systems can be viewed here

Ecological may be contacted on 046-9432104 or

By Niall Crosson, Technical Group Manager, Ecological Building Systems

Posted on Monday, 23 October 2017
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