Architecture

Irish county makes Passive House construction mandatory

Irish county makes Passive Hou...
Passive Houses like this one, Park Passive House by NK Architects, could soon become a lot more common in Ireland's Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County
Passive Houses like this one, Park Passive House by NK Architects, could soon become a lot more common in Ireland's Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County
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Passive Houses like this one, Park Passive House by NK Architects, could soon become a lot more common in Ireland's Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County
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Passive Houses like this one, Park Passive House by NK Architects, could soon become a lot more common in Ireland's Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County

We cover a lot of impressive Passive Houses here at Gizmag, but relatively few are actually built worldwide. Which is why it's exciting that Ireland's Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has reportedly passed a law requiring all new homes in the area be built to the Passive House standard or feature an equivalent performance.

First, a quick primer. Put simply, Passive House (or Passivhaus) is a green building standard (like LEED) that focuses on air-tightness and insulation. Therefore, a Passive House-certified home should be extremely heat efficient and inexpensive to run. The Passive House Institute has a more thorough explanation of the Passive House and related terminology.

According to Passive House Plus, the motion was worded by its own editor and sponsored by Fine Gael councillor Marie Baker. It requires that all new buildings either meet the Passive House standard or equivalent, where reasonably practical. So while a new home doesn't necessarily need to be certified by the Passive House body, it must demonstrably meet the performance of one.

Passive House Plus estimates that his could result in upwards of 20,000 new Passive Houses built by 2022 in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County alone, but even if that figure is way off, we can probably expect a lot of new green houses to appear in that part of the world.

A word of caution though. Treehugger's Lloyd Alter points out that Ireland's Minister of the Environment, could still potentially choose to step in to challenge the new law on the (contested) grounds that it could raise the cost of housing.

Source: Passive House Plus

6 comments
tacheonabike
why this isnt general practise among all councils and goverments beggers belief
piperTom
What beggars belief is that someone doubts this will increase the cost of housing. Many lower income people will just have to move elsewhere. The homeless population will explode. Meanwhile, busy-body politicians just don't care.
ted
It is mind boggling that these petty elected idiots think that they can take the property of landholders within their district at a whim. I guess anything goes in support of the LEED fad (which any serious anaylsis shows to be nothing more than a fad). Pass the pink sparkles I think I see a unicorn.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
This is mainly a means of gentrification, which is OK, except the middle class is pushed into rural mobile home subdivisions. This means longer commutes and lower compliance.
Don Duncan
If initial cost is higher for passive (doesn't have to be), then the energy savings would soon pay back that cost, varying by region, depending on the energy cost.
A passive solar house was built in Davis, CA ('90s) and uses no energy for heating/cooling. Temps range from triple digit to 20s.
So in any but mild, sub tropical climates it pays to build passive. However, it is not wise to force anyone to do the smart thing with their money. If energy were not provided by govt. monopolies, the most efficient use of it would be realized, as with all resources. The free (unsubsidized, unregulated) market is the only way we can know what is most economical.
davidefreeman
My concern is that the passivhaus design generally leads to square boxes with very little window area. Does this account for houses designed with passive solar in mind, instead of simply minimizing cold/warm air intrusion? I'd much prefer a house with large south-facing windows and thermal mass over a small closed-up box.