- "The numbers of units could be seen as modest but on the island of Ireland we have been a leader in passive houses."
- "The most important considerations are at the very beginning at the concept design stage."
- "The short-term goal of the PHAI is to continue to be a support for those just starting their Passive House journey and to demonstrate best practice."
In 2010, the Passive House Association of Ireland (PHAI) was set up to be a catalyst for the increased awareness of the opportunities and benefits of low energy design, based on the Passive House principles, across the Irish construction industry. Passive House design is scientifically proven to be successful in producing high performance buildings.
The Mission of the PHAI is to promote, educate and facilitate, to develop a strong identity, understanding and demand for the Passive House concept. PHAI is also one of the 27 global Affiliated Associations with the International Passive House Association. The Association is non-profit making in so far that all membership fees collected go toward the promotion of the Passive House Principles in their many varied forms.
Barry McCarron: I joined the board as a director in 2017 following nomination. In 2020 the board elected me as Chair of the association. I see the role of the Chair to lead the board of the PHAI, ensuring that it fulfils its Mission to promote, educate and facilitate coupled with the governance of the organisation.
Since my appointment we conducted some work with consultants reflecting on our strengths and weaknesses which produced a new strategic plan for the organisation. This will hopefully be a good foundation for continued success over the next decade.
B&R: In your opinion, what doyou think some of the benefits of Passive Housing are?
BMC: Well, for 30 years now this standard keeps proving that it is the best building standard repeatedly. There have been countless academic papers produced on how there is no performance gap and in contrast there is a body of evidence in academic papers demonstrating that other regulations are producing significant performance gaps.
For this very reason, the passive house standard should be best described as a quality standard and if you consider the Irish context this should even be embraced further. Specifically, however, the advantages are; predicted performance on Energy, Indoor Comfort, summer comfort (overheating protection) and Excellent indoor air quality.
B&R:Ireland has a very low percentage of registered Passive Houses; personally, can you see that figure increasing in the next number of years considering the benefits/advantages of building a Passive House?
BMC: Absolutely yes, the numbers of units could be seen as modest but on the island of Ireland we have been a leader in passive houses. Many will be surprised to know that we have a Tesco supermarket, a pharmacy, the largest education building (Erne Campus) in the world coupled with the largest private developer lead (219 Homes) project and in progress the largest urban development (six hundred units) in the world.
Then in the future we have a swimming pool complex, a corporate HQ in Dublin city, along with many others at the development stage. Drivers in my opinion of predicted growth are the ongoing energy crisis, the ESG and the new EU taxonomy. This is then all in against a backdrop of a climate emergency which is demanding a carbon reduction of a sector which currently is accounting for 40% of all global emissions.
BMC: We all talk in the community about the five passive house principles (Insulation, Thermal Bridging, Windows, Airtightness, and Mechanical Ventilation), it is against these you would be the key metrics.
The most important considerations are at the very beginning at the concept design stage. Key considerations are the form of the building and then conducting some PHPP modelling. This approach will normally make the project more successful and economical.
B&R: What would some of the short-term goals for the Passive Housing Association of Ireland be?
BMC: The short-term goal of the PHAI is to continue to be a support for those just starting their Passive House journey and to demonstrate best practice.
We are also keen in the short term to provide independent support to the growth in public buildings seeking the passive house standard as organisations recognise the role of leadership they need to play in the climate emergency.
In addition to this we are always looking for new members and to embrace the strong supply chain who provide high performing and passive house certified products. Finally, then we are hopeful of hosting the international passive house conference in Dublin during 2025.
B&R: Have you anything else that you would like to add?
BMC: We have a fantastic board at PHAI with a huge amount of experience in adopting the passive house standard. The transition from nZEB to ZEB is already underway; we also have the United Nations outlining passive houses in various reports.
The standard is well proven at this stage the sector now has a considerable proportion who have undertaken passive house upskilling and we have an excellent supply chain. The time has never been better to adopt this standard over building to the minimum building regulations facilitate. The evidence and performance are clear that the right decision today will stand the test of time.