Gullwing Solution Cuts Energy Bills By 90%

  • DIT students address cause of fuel poverty
  • Plan would radically improve BER ratings for social housing 

08 June 2012:   An innovative plan to radically improve fuel efficiency in social housing was unveiled at a presentation in DIT Bolton Street today.  Students who completed a postgraduate programme in Digital Analysis + Energy Retrofit presented their proposals to an audience including energy professionals and city council planners.  Their plan demonstrated how they would retrofit an entire block of Dublin City Council’s social housing to improve its Building Energy Rating (BER) from an “F” to an “A3”, allowing residents to cut up to 90% off their heating bills!  The postgraduate programme was funded by the Higher Education Authority and Springboard.


Simon McGuinness (Lecturer), Terry Woods, Karen Hammond, Shane Coffey, Monica Lillis, Michelle Fagan (President RIAI), Susan Cogan, Malachy Mathews (Lecturer), Haley Bueno, Cormac Allen (Head of Department), Orna Hanly (Head of School)

Using their innovative digital modelling approach to the “Gullwing” residential blocks that are familiar in Dublin City, the proposals would make a significant contribution to addressing fuel poverty at its source – energy inefficient housing stock.

According to Simon McGuinness, module leader for the Gullwing project at DIT Bolton Street “The majority of architects and technologists completed their education without the benefit of digital analysis skills in energy performance measurement, and have limited training in predictive digital analysis techniques.  The Retrofit qualification provides a vital missing skill set.  We have shown that the typical “add insulation” approach could actually have endangered the health of residents by inducing additional mould growth at thermal bridges. It would have cost more to achieve compliance and delivered significantly poorer energy savings than the integrated Gullwing solution proposes.”


Terry Woods

The Postgraduate Certificate in Digital Analysis + energy Retrofit (PG Cert DAER) is a one year, part-time programme that develops skills in digital analysis, energy performnance and the retrofitting of existing buildings using the medium of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and a variety of design tools.  Designed by the Dublin School of Architecture in DIT, the programme was aimed at architects and architectural technologists who had become unemployed, and offered them an opportunity to add to their existing qualifications and skills.  The programme runs part-time for one year, and eligible applicants are funded under the Springboard initiative, and will run again this year.


DIT President Professor Brian Norton

The course has been designed so that it includes practical elements, this year covering an analysis of a block of social housing accommodation, owned by Dublin City Council. The goal was to radically overhaul the existing block to resolve all existing shortcomings in terms of space, access, escape, condensation, comfort and energy efficiency, with due regard to the architectural integrity of the existing building.

Speaking ahead of the presentation, Professor Brian Norton, President of DIT said “We have an urgent task to undertake in order to meet our current Kyoto commitments.  It's not about sticking insulation on buildings.  It's not about upgrading boilers or sealing cracks.  It's not even about installing solar panels.  They all have a place, but the key skill is the ability to accurately predict the effect of each of these measures on the existing fabric of the building in terms of its ability to keep in heat, transmit moisture, provide fresh air and deliver comfort.  This is something we really need to focus on right now.”


Susan Cogan

The proposals would have nationally important effects on rates of fuel poverty and Kyoto emissions targets if applied across the entire stock of Dublin City Council’s 5-storey residential blocks.  The Gullwing approach would also create sustainable employment, develop expertise in an expanding construction activity and pave the way for the export of high-level construction services to Europe and beyond.

“The DIT PG Cert DAER programme is funded under the Department of Education & Skills ‘’Springboard’’ Labour Market Activation (LMA) scheme and was designed in response to the Forfas reports ‘’Guidance for higher education providers on current and future skills needs of enterprise’’ and ‘’Future Skills Needs of Enterprise within the Green Economy in Ireland’’, said Cormac Allen, Head of Department of Architectural Technology in the DIT School of Architecture. ‘’Together these reports identify skills shortages and growth opportunities in cross-disciplinary sustainable building and design processes, and energy efficiency and retrofitting in particular.’’

A number of the students secured employment both during and after the programme, with most being recruited on the basis of their new retrofit skills.

Back to Top