The focus of the Postgraduate Certificate in Digital Analysis & Energy Retrofit in the 2016-2017 academic year was a work-based project in which each student selected a live residential design project from their own practice and developed both a Part L (2011) and a 30kWh/m2a compliant design.
The European Commission had issued a Recommendation to the Government of Ireland in June 2016 (EU/1318/2016) to set its new build NZEB standard at 30kWh/m2a, rather than the 45kWh/m2a that it was proposing. This, the Commission contended, was the cost optimal level for new Irish housing taking our oceanic climate into account.
Following a successful European Commission H2020 funded upskilling research project called “MEnS” which resulted in 120 Irish building professionals, 50% of whom were women, upsilled in NZEB retrofit through an online platform. This gave the academic team the skills to offer courses in various blended delivery modes.
The DT774 course was restructured to allow students in full time employment to access the learning using online delivery methods including recorded lectures, evening webinars, video tutorials and online assessments. While they were gaining academic credits, participants were also working on their client’s designs, backed up with the technical guidance of the expert DIT lecturing team.
The digital delivery allowed one overseas student to graduate from the year-long programme with a design for a Passive House project currently under construction in the south of England.
13 dwellings, encompassing the full range of residential typologies from small 2-bed apartments to historic cottages to large detached houses, were explored in urban and rural locations. Each was considered at 60kWh/m2a (current Part L) and 30kWh/m2a energy performance thresholds
The DIT 30kWh/m2a was the first exploration of the Commission's proposed NZEB standard and it proved to be achievable for all dwelling types. The typical additional cost for a detached 4-bed house was €24,000.
The energy source for the 30kWh/m2a dwelling proved to be overwhelmingly electricity with renewables provided by heat pumps, sometimes with PV back-up. MVHR was typically required to achieve the performance standard but the near elimination of thermal bridging by careful design proved to be the cheapest win overall in most dwellings after simplification of geometry (form factor) had been discounted.
The project designs were produced by a multi-disciplinary class comprising architects, engineers, building surveyors and architectural technologists reflecting the wide diversity of professions producing housing in Ireland.
These are selected posters of the 30 kWh/m2a house project: