The focus of the inaugural 2011-2012 Springboard-funded Postgraduate Certificate in Digital Analysis & Energy Retrofit programme was a community-based project in which four multi-disciplinary teams of postgraduate students developed A3 rated deep energy retrofit design proposal for the standard 1950s Dublin City Council multi-unit social apartment building typology. This was project was called “Gullwing” after its iconic roof profile.
A detailed building physics analysis of the existing buildings using state of the art software, showed them likely to be injurious to the health of occupants due to excessive condensation risk. They were also found to be some of the least energy efficient dwellings in the country.
One of the key findings of the research was that the default y-factor in the Dwelling Energy Assessment Procedure (DEAP) underestimated the heat loss due to thermal bridging by a factor of three. As of 2018, that deficiency had not been rectified in DEAP.
This quantification of thermal bridge heat losses allowed one team to propose a 33% uplift in energy performance just by simplifying the shape of the building to reduce the extent and number of thermal bridges without adding any insulation or upgrading any of the energy systems. The significance of this finding indicates the urgency of including form-factor as the single largest indicator of building energy efficiency in future amendments to building regulations, not only in Ireland but around the world.
The four project designs proposed were the first to study this deck-access public housing typology holistically, addressing inflexible and cramped internal layouts, lack of lift access, poor means of escape, anti-social behaviour and to propose solutions to address these issues whilst delivering full compliance in all respects with the 2011 building regulations. One of the teams’ proposals even allowed the upgrading work to be undertaken sequentially whilst the block remained largely occupied.
The study was used as the basis for national and European funding requests from Dublin City Council in order to address the poor living conditions of residents. These were unsuccessful. Subsequently, the Irish Government was found to be in breach of European Human Rights standards because of the condition of these (and other) buildings.
This is an overview of the Gullwong project: