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renovation station

How an amazing retrofit improved this Irish home's energy rating by 90%

This Dublin semi-d became the first certified ‘passive’ retrofit home here.

THE BER CERTIFICATE is a welcome addition to the Irish housing market – but also a dreaded one for many homeowners as it can underline just how energy-inefficient their home is.

Owners of older properties, in particular, find that they are left with a low BER (building energy rating) as a result not of what they have done – but rather what has been left undone by older materials and building practices of the past.

That is why this retrofit to a semi-detached home in Monkstown, Co Dublin, is so impressive. The results produced by architect Joseph Little moved the home’s BER rating from a measly G to an impressive A3.

That is an improvement of 90% in its energy rating.

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Incredible, yes, and recognised as such by the Passivhaus Institute of Germany to become the first ‘passive house’ retrofit certified in Ireland – and Green Residential Building of the Year.

Architect Joseph Little took a two-pronged approach – both retrofitting the original 101 sq m house to that standard and also making sure that the two new builds – a new two-storey side extension and one-storey addition at the rear.

The homeowner had spent 13 years working in African countries, thus appreciating the need to conserve and create sustainable living practices, and wanted that her house back home in Ireland to reflect that experience and learnings.

The challenge was to make sure that the retrofits and the extensions were sensitive to the street on which it is located – something which Little writes about in his Building Life Consultancy portfolio here.

This is how it looks to the street front:

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The side extension is visible here, but fits beautifully – the facade uses red clay brick cladding from the same source as the original 1960s bricks on the original house.

To the rear though, it is an entirely different story:

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It is curved to accommodate a dining area, and extend into a decking space. The triple glazing preserves heat and energy, but also floods light into the living and kitchen space:

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There is good distribution of this light throughout the house thanks to features such as rooflights, sunpipes, new window design and internal glass screen and staircase:

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What is equally important is what you can’t see – there is a high-end ventilation system with heat recovery, gravity-fed rainwater harvesting to feed the three toilet cisterns, solar panels and external wall insulation, all feeding into the recipe for creating a hugely comfortable and ‘green’ environment.

Read more and see more of Joseph Little’s work here.

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