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Building Performance (Energy Efficiency in Design)

DT9773 PT


Over the past five years the Dublin School of Architecture has developed a range of upskilling programmes in Nearly Zero Energy Building (NZEB) for building design professionals. NZEB is the energy performance standard required under the European Union Energy Performance in Buildings Directive (EPBD). This Directive requires that all new public buildings must meet the NZEB standard from the end of 2018 onwards, and ALL new buildings from the end of 2020 onwards.  The Directive also provides for the deep renovation of existing buildings to the NZEB standard beyond 2020. Achieving the NZEB standard will require a culture change at all levels in the building industry, from procurement, to design, construction, use and maintenance of the building over its life cycle. 

This will require industry upskilling on an unprecedented scale across the EU. From our experience in developing upskilling programmes over the past five years it is clear that the extent of the knowledge gap within the disciplines of the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) sector is as yet neither appreciated or acknowledged. Recognising the scale of this emerging upskilling challenge the lecturing team in the DIT School of Architecture has developed new skills and teaching methods over the past five years and has prepared a range of new programmes in science based building performance.

Programme outline

The MSc in Building Performance (Energy Efficiency in Design) (MSc BP(EED)) programme is a 2.5 year part time programme, delivered over five semesters, which has been designed to enable professionally qualified architects, architectural technologists, engineers and building surveyors to develop skills in energy efficiency design for new and renovation building projects. The programme is project based and explores a range of new build and renovation design strategies for residential and non-residential building types using a variety of digital modelling and environmental design software applications.

The MSc is a nested programme comprising three elements 

Postgraduate Certificate in Building Performance (Energy Efficiency in Design)

The first element is the Postgraduate Certificate aims at up-skilling and refocusing of building design professionals in a range of conceptual analysis tools, centred on energy and thermal performance calculation methodologies, computer modelling and analysis skills, and the application and development of these in a capstone project centred on Nearly Zero Energy Building performance targets.

Semester 1 introduces NZEB context, technologies, U value and cost optimal calculation principles and energy modelling using the SEAI Dwelling Energy Assessment Procedure (DEAP).

Semester 2 focusses on design tools commencing with energy modelling using the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP), hygrothermal risk assessment using the WUFI Pro application, and 2D thermal modelling using the PsiTherm application.

Each module is assessed through a combination of online computer based formative exercises and summative assessments and the application of module learning to an end of semester capstone project or projects.

On successful completion of the PGCert BP(EED) programme the student will be able to:

  1. Analyse and calculate the thermal performance of new and existing buildings using a range of fabric heat loss calculation methods and computer applications.
  2. Develop building design proposals which incorporate and integrate airtightness design and installation requirements within a whole building energy performance design and construction strategy.
  3. Assess and implement ventilation design strategies which support and compliment a low energy building fabric performance receiving environment.
  4. Execute an assessment of surface condensation risk (fRsi) in building fabric assemblies using linear thermal bridge calculation in order to develop code compliant construction details which manage mould risk.
  5. Execute an assessment of condensation risk analysis in building fabric assemblies using hygrothermal modelling and develop code compliant construction assemblies to manage hygrothermal risk.
  6. Appraise a low energy building design proposal to determine overheating risk potential and propose fabric and services installation mitigation measures to manage overheating risk.
  7. Manipulate building space, layout and orientation to optimise geometry and form factor as a fundamental design driver in achieving passive low energy building performance at optimal cost.
  8. Apply the principles of life cycle cost analysis in selecting fabric interventions, services installations and renewable technologies and apply an understanding of the financial parameters impacting on cost optimality.

Postgraduate Diploma in Building Performance (Energy Efficiency in Design)

The second element is the Postgraduate Diploma aims at the further development and application of new build and renovation-focussed technical design skills, and the application of these in more complex NZEB new and renovation design projects.

The project focus is on domestic and non-domestic buildings characterised by receiving contexts with both steady state and dynamic performance design parameters, developing a skill set applicable to both Irish and international technical design and legislative contexts. Projects will require prediction of energy usage on a whole building basis and the use of interactive digital modelling systems to achieve Nearly Zero Energy Building performance targets.

Semester 3 introduces sustainability metrics and explores multi-unit residential buildings.

Semester 4 introduces dynamic simulation tools and explores office building types.

On successful completion of the PGDip BP(EED) programme the student will be able to:

  1. Critically analyse existing buildings and new designs to determine under-performance and failure in thermal performance and energy consumption.
  2. Develop optimal NZEB design strategies and interventions which address underlying building physics principles, energy performance criteria, buildability, capital cost, energy savings & life cycle costing and energy-related legislative requirements.
  3. Analyse and differentiate energy use patterns and profiles of an existing building and develop low energy design strategies to achieve performance.
  4. Select and utilise appropriate energy analysis tools to carry out an energy profile of existing buildings and new designs with an understanding of residential and non-residential energy rating calculation methods.
  5. Assess and model the energy, carbon and environmental comfort impacts of design proposals and deep energy renovation interventions using a range of energy analysis tools, including steady state methods and dynamic simulation.

MSc in Building Performance (Energy Efficiency in Design)

The third element is the MSc which focusses on a research dissertation project exploring a topic relevant to energy efficiency design and technology.

In final stage of the programme, students are required to select a research topic, choose and test a research approach, evaluate the results achieved and develop a final dissertation. This will be an original piece of work exploring a topic relevant to energy retrofit technology, through a combination of applied research based on and further developing a specific aspect of a preceding energy retrofit technology design project, supported by a 7000-10000 word written dissertation.

On successful completion of the MSc BP(EED) programme the student will be able to:

  1. Engage in high level research in the area of building performance and energy efficiency design and deep renovation technology.
  2. Provide specialist professional technical services at the forefront of the building performance and energy efficiency design and deep renovation field of learning. 
  3. Provide leadership and engage creatively in a collaborative multi-disciplinary research and design environment. 
  4. Apply relevant principles of building physics and mathematical calculation in the development of technically robust energy efficient design and deep renovation research and design propositions within their discipline. 
  5. Make critical judgements based on scientific principles within a changing and ill-defined technological context, with an ability to analyse and measure novel and emerging technological propositions against building performance and energy efficiency design data and metrics.
  6. Record and present project case studies and design proposals using appropriate professional and academic report writing conventions.

Entry Requirements:

The MSc BP(EED) programme is open to the following categories of applicants:

Registered Architects
Professionally qualified architects who are or have been members of the RIAI, subject to interview.
Registered Architectural Technologists
Professionally qualified Architectural Technologists, subject to the requirements scheduled below.
Registered Building Surveyors
Chartered Engineers
Professionally qualified Engineers, subject to a minimum 2.2 Level 8 qualification plus 2 years minimum relevant accredited professional experience, or equivalent.
Other technical design professionals subject to a minimum 2.2 Level 8 qualification plus 2 years minimum relevant accredited professional experience, or equivalent.
Applicants may be required to demonstrate ability in architectural technical drawing and building fabric design.

Career Opportunities

For building design professionals such as architects, architectural technologists, engineers and building surveyors, an understanding of NZEB will be critical to professional survival. The NZEB standard will apply to all new public building from the end of 2018 and to all buildings by 2020. The need for NZEB upskilling is clear.

Graduates of the MSc in Building Performance (Energy Efficiency in Design) will be uniquely qualified to research and assess the energy performance in new and existing building typologies including multi-unit residential and non-domestic typologies measured against national performance metrics.

They will be able to research and advise on insulation options assessed as safe in accordance with the best international standards and detail, specify and oversee the installation to ensure performance targets are met.

Graduates will understand the dynamics of thermal, moisture and air movement through building fabric and design the optimal balance of all three to ensure the integrity of any retrofit solution proposed and protect the structural longevity of the building fabric.

In short they will be leaders in the field of retrofit assessment and design. Their skills will be equally applicable to new build work where the principles of building fabric design are significantly more easily accommodated.

With energy analysis skills building on and enhancing their construction industry experience, graduates will be ideally placed to secure employment in the area of energy renovation of the existing building stock – an emerging and expansive field of construction activity across the European Union, in response to the recast Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.

MRIAI and RIAI (Arch Tech) graduates will be eligible to apply for RIAI Sustainability Accreditation.

Programme Content

The programme is delivered through a series of modules, some in blended online mode supported by workshops every four weeks, some in traditional part time college-based mode.

Semester 1 of the PGCert is delivered through a series of three 5 ECTS blended online modules as follows:

These modules can combine to form a CPD Diploma in NZEB Tools.

Semester 2 of the PGCert is delivered through a further series of three 5 ECTS blended online modules as follows: 

Semester 3 of the PGDip is delivered through a combination of 5 ECTS blended online and10 ECTS traditional part time college-based project modules as follows: 

Semester 4 of the PGDip is also delivered through a combination of 5 ECTS blended online and 10 ECTS traditional part time college-based project modules as follows: 

Semester 5 of the MSc is delivered through two 5 ECTS research modules and a 20 ECTS Building Performance Research Dissertation and Project modules as follows: 


The programme is delivered in blended online mode and comprises online and college based modules.

Online modules are assessed through a range of computer based assessments while college-based project modules are assessed through a range of techniques including project work, group work, assignments, and presentations.

For Further Information

Programme co-ordinator

Cormac Allen - Assistant Head of School
Dublin School of Architecture
College of Engineering & Built Environment
Dublin Institute of Technology, Bolton Street, Dublin 1

Information Leaflet


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the duration of the programme?

The MSc programme runs on a part-time basis over 2.5 years.

The Postgraduate Certificate and Postgraduate Diploma elements can be completed on a part-time basis, each over two semesters in one academic year.

How does the online mode work?

Students are trained in the use of a variety of online learning applications and tools. All lectures are pre-recorded and uploaded on a dedicated module website. Course material is accessible using handheld devices, making it possible for students to engage interactively and dynamically in learning at any time or place 24/7 subject to broadband coverage.

A formative exercise is issued to all students each week to guide learning. Formative exercises are submitted prior to and form the basis of weekly online webinars which are recorded and available for review.

Students then complete fortnightly online summative assessments which consolidate knowledge as the module progresses.

How frequently do workshop run?

There are four college workshops in Semesters 1 and 2. These form a vital part of the blended online learning experience and enable students to meet and build a sense of network and community.

On what days does the programme run?

College based workshops take place every four weeks, generally on Fridays.

Webinars takes place each week, generally each Tuesday evening 20.00-21.00 and are accessible remotely.

Online summative assessments take place on a fortnightly basis, generally on Thursday evenings 20.00-21.00 and are accessible remotely.

What is the time commitment required for the programme?

The programme requires a weekly commitment of 20 hours per week.

Modules can be taken individually and accumulated over time to achieve the PGCert, PGDip and MSc awards.

How often does the programme run, and when does the next programme begin?

The programme runs annually commencing in September, subject to numbers.

How many places are available?

The target intake for each MSc cohort is 32 students. Priority will be given to students wishing to enrol on the 30 ECTS PGCert year-long cycle.

If there are fewer than 32 eligible applicants for the 30 ECTS PGCert year-long cycle, applicants wishing to enrol on the 15 ECTS CPD Dip semester-long cycle will be offered places to a total maximum cohort of 32. 

Students may be admitted to each module as a standalone CPD Certificate, subject to places being available within the total of 32.

How much does it cost?

For information on part time postgraduate fees please click here.