Ireland's first 'passive' house opens near Wicklow

Ireland's first 'passive house' was opened this week by Environment Minister Dick Roche.

Capable of both heating and cooling itself, the house is a demonstration project sponsored by Sustainable Energy Ireland, and independently certified by the Passive Haus Institute in Germany.

It taps and contains heat from natural sources inside and outside the house through use of:
  • solar panels in the roof which provide 50% of domestic hot water needs;
  • triple glazed windows, sized to take account of North/South orientation;
  • heat recovery ventilation system, recovering heat from warm air leaving the house and using it to heat cold air entering the house; and
  • very high levels of internal and external insulation.

    Minister Roche said: "The passive house is capable of being lived in without a conventional heating system! The house is expected to use just 10% of the energy of a normal house to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature all year round."

    It is estimated to cost around 10% more to build than conventional housing, but this is claimed to be recovered through savings on energy bills over the lifetime of the building.

    Energy Research Group UCD will be monitoring the house over the next two years, involving 34 sensors located around the building.

    "I'm very much looking forward to seeing the practical results of this intensive monitoring as I'm sure are all of those with an interest in building energy conservation," Minister Roche added.

    David Hopkins.

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