Any experience I should look for for energy efficiency specification?

Any experience I should look for for energy efficiency specification?

Postby birthslj » Mon Mar 16, 2009 2:43 pm

HI,
I think that we need the services of an architect or building engineer to advise and specify energy saving and related works on our house , and I was wondering if the members of this forum would advice on what experience, qualifications, professional body memberships, etc. I should be looking for when setting out to engage someone. I would expect that any architect should be able to do the work, but if there are particular specialised certifications or courses, then I should take advantage of them.

We are living in an end of terrace ex-council house in Walkinstown. It has solid concrete walls and we are having problems with the levels of insulation and ventilation in the house. This is creating hot and cold areas in the house, and problems with condensation. We intend doing some works on the house to remedy these problems, and take advantage of the Home Energy Saving Scheme to reduce the costs. I would like to kick off the process soon, so that when SEI get their list of approved contractors together we can jump in early.

I reckon that the works could entail a number of different elements, including some internal dry walling, possibly external insulation on the gable wall (don't want to lose internal space if possible - it's not a big house) and probably a new boiler, rads etc. I would like to look at a heat recovery ventilation system, although that may be overkill. I think an energy neutral building is aiming too far, but there is a south facing roof that might take a solar water heater.

I probably would have gone straight to a builder to get quotes, but I think that as u values equate to saved money in lower energy costs, it is important to get them right, and (I could be wrong here) to calculate the effective u value of a house wall with layers of different materials is more an architecture than a building skill.

I suppose the second part of the problem will be what is the best way to go about engaging someone - write to all the architects in the area, or use an online facility like bidjob.ie or onlinetradesmen.com?

Any advice would be appreciated
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Re: Any experience I should look for for energy efficiency specification?

Postby garethace » Sat May 02, 2009 10:16 pm

Thankyou for posting your query. You put a lot of effort into the above post. A pity responses weren't more forthcoming. The group here are very well up on a lot of aspects of the built environment. They provide a valuable information resource and a 'service' practically, that all benefit from. However, Archiseek has been dragging its heals a tad in the energy conservation area. Some discussion on that seems slow to evolve. Can't imagine why.

I am sure a lot of people here have expertise in the area. C'mon archiseek, where are those green hats? There is considerable challenges though in gathering together ideas in relation to green technology, energy conservation and the environment. It is a vast, vast, vast subject area. Deserving of its own forum sub-section here at Archiseek. I advocate that we start one. I was searching for a semi-relevant place to put my own link, when I came across your post.

http://designcomment.blogspot.com/2009/05/on-standby.html

I will not help you much, but I wished to share it with the group, and it is semi-related to this thread. It is worth checking out Construct Ireland I think.

http://www.constructireland.ie/

I read the article there myself and I know some contractors and experts are mentioned, or features in that excellent online magazine's content.

Thankyou again for your query.

Brian O' Hanlon
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Re: Any experience I should look for for energy efficiency specification?

Postby keating » Tue May 05, 2009 12:33 pm

Its a terrible indictment of the architecture profession that the vast bulk of its members have little understanding of low energy building and materials science. Recently on the radio a spokeperson for the RIAI didn't even know what a passive house was. The 2010 Part L and 2012 water framework directive's water standards will require skills that architects simply don't possess at the moment.Can they calculate thermal bridges, can they design to reduce heat load sufficiently to removethe need for a boiler. Easca and cultivate.ie are providing courses but nothing from the RIAI. The worthwhile 'see the ligt conference' should tour the country and be free for Architects. With improved insulation levels and airtightness, building designers need to be certain of the result of their specification on indoor air quality and moisture. When/if we start building again will most architects be obsolete, its a great opportunity for out of work architects to train up in Building Biology/ Building Physics. Architectural Technologists will be extinct in a couple of years, surely they could be retrained as Building technologists.
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Re: Any experience I should look for for energy efficiency specification?

Postby henno » Tue May 05, 2009 3:15 pm

keating wrote: Architectural Technologists will be extinct in a couple of years, surely they could be retrained as Building technologists.



architectural technology = building technology....
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Re: Any experience I should look for for energy efficiency specification?

Postby garethace » Tue May 05, 2009 9:00 pm

Its a terrible indictment of the architecture profession that the vast bulk of its members have little understanding of low energy building and materials science.


I'll attempt to stand up for architects here. Lets see how it goes...

It is a wave crashing over us all in the construction industry. For the first time ever, plumbers and electricians will have to coordinate to enable much of it to happen. I don't know if the architect ever needs to get involved to that degree. But what is for sure, I think, is that contracts managers and site agents on sites, need to do this course now and get more involved, more motivated. In busy times, there is a tendency for anyone, who takes their 'eye off the ball' and wander off into fancy concepts like sustainability, to get severely cracked across the knuckles. The builders and the architects will have to come together on this one. Otherwise, it will all come upstuck in a big way. Perhaps, the best way for it to happen, is for the architects to butt out of it altogether in areas - and as I describe, provide a re-training so that the electrician knows more about what plumbers are doing and visa versa.

In the end though, if your client will not get on board too, it is all wasted effort. No matter how skilled your electrician and plumber are in 'green technology'. That is why I am dubious of architects being too 'up to their necks' in it. They may begin to propose quite expensive solutions, not having a detailed knowledge of how renewable systems work etc. They will become very easy targets for heat pump or glazing system salesmen and the like. And end up costing their clients a lot of extra money, in the 'name' of sustainability. There were some very interesting 'Probe' studies done into office blocks a while ago, by the chartered institute of building services engineers. Who found that all of the passively cooled office buildings were notoriously dis-functional. Occupants didn't feel the system was working. Perhaps it wasn't a bad thing, the Architect on radio didn't know what a passive building was.

To be honest about it, Architects could do with some general training in cost control - sincerely - not specifically in the sustainability area, but in general. Then, perhaps they would be able and ready to confront the said sales persons. During the Celtic tiger, be it public or private development, the system of building procurement rarely worked well. Architects are rarely given enough time in the boom years to work on their design properly, and get it to come down in price. Concepts got thrown together very quickly for clients, and sometimes for very little fees. I think we really need to move a little higher than architects in the hierarchy. They have precious little say in things, during good times. And perhaps even less in the current times. That would be my own experience.

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Re: Any experience I should look for for energy efficiency specification?

Postby reddy » Wed May 06, 2009 8:35 am

keating wrote:Its a terrible indictment of the architecture profession that the vast bulk of its members have little understanding of low energy building and materials science. Recently on the radio a spokeperson for the RIAI didn't even know what a passive house was.


I wouldn't agree at all with this. The vast majority of graduates in the last five to ten years have a very good knowledge of low energy building. I know in the practice I work in there's a healthy level of knowledge and interest in the subject.

The fact is that not many architects have built experience with it because in cost cutting exercises low energy technologies are always the first thing to go. However most architects will be fully adept at implementing the basic principles of low energy design regarding orientation, glazing ratios, passive ventilation, insulation levels etc.
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Re: Any experience I should look for for energy efficiency specification?

Postby keating » Wed May 06, 2009 1:09 pm

Low energy buildings are not about bolt on technologies or cross flow ventilation. Natural ventilation is inappropriate for office buildings or homes, it is uncontrollable, not acoustically sealed, dosent filter air or manage humidity. Humidity is our biggest building defect in Ireland. Natural Ventilation does not deal with those clammy wet summers day.

The Deap software looks simply at energy balance, Passive house measures performance. The cost of a building should be measured over a couple of decades with even conservative energy price increase estimates. Its not enough to simply leave it to the plumbers and the electricians. A building needs to be designed around comfort and future proofed so as it dosent become a lead weight around the clients necks. Have architects realised that the days of churning out sub standard speculation stock has ended.
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Re: Any experience I should look for for energy efficiency specification?

Postby wearnicehats » Wed May 06, 2009 3:31 pm

keating wrote:Low energy buildings are not about bolt on technologies or cross flow ventilation. Natural ventilation is inappropriate for office buildings or homes, it is uncontrollable, not acoustically sealed, dosent filter air or manage humidity. Humidity is our biggest building defect in Ireland. Natural Ventilation does not deal with those clammy wet summers day.

The Deap software looks simply at energy balance, Passive house measures performance. The cost of a building should be measured over a couple of decades with even conservative energy price increase estimates. Its not enough to simply leave it to the plumbers and the electricians. A building needs to be designed around comfort and future proofed so as it dosent become a lead weight around the clients necks. Have architects realised that the days of churning out sub standard speculation stock has ended.


Keating's dislike of the architecture profession is well documented in these forums - his main bug-bear seems to stem from the fact that he bought a crap apartment that he can't offload
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Re: Any experience I should look for for energy efficiency specification?

Postby keating » Wed May 06, 2009 9:27 pm

wearnicehats wrote:Keating's dislike of the architecture profession is well documented in these forums - his main bug-bear seems to stem from the fact that he bought a crap apartment that he can't offload


Its a crap apartment but its spacious and in a good location. I don't dislike the architecture profession, in fact there's nothing else I'd rather be. Planning is interesting but does not have that craft feeling. I'm just disappointed that many Architects just don't care for building. This happened before we need an Architecture that reflects our new epoque, The age of Scarcity.
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Re: Any experience I should look for for energy efficiency specification?

Postby garethace » Thu May 07, 2009 10:09 pm

I wouldn't agree at all with this. The vast majority of graduates in the last five to ten years have a very good knowledge of low energy building. I know in the practice I work in there's a healthy level of knowledge and interest in the subject.


Some have managed to foster this culture quite well. As I understand it, the Canadians have various schemes and policies developed around the energy conservation issue for the last three decades. In Ireland we are only getting started. And mainly because of a switch to gas, from coal and oil. And finding ourselves at the end of a very long gas pipeline. I think some huge proportion of the world's gas comes from Iran and Russia.

Some architects who came to Ireland from places like Canada, brought this culture and understanding with them. But we shouldn't beat ourselves up too much in Ireland. We are not going to learn this stuff in a couple of months. And contractors at the moment, are trying to go through the 'up-skilling' process too, to become more energy aware, while struggling through very difficult times.

The fact is that not many architects have built experience with it because in cost cutting exercises low energy technologies are always the first thing to go.


This is an important point, and well made. If you talk to trades people who install heating systems and controls, you will hear it even more.

However most architects will be fully adept at implementing the basic principles of low energy design regarding orientation, glazing ratios, passive ventilation, insulation levels etc.


Point taken.

However, in recent times I know of a certain Terminal 2 project at Dublin Airport, where the original concept was to put a glass roof over the whole thing. You will notice that in the final design, the glazing has been restricted down to the main 'axis' through Terminal 2 building. In other words, what started as a day lit indoor plaza, has been minimized to a 'feature' which marks out a circulation route.

This had to happen, because the size of the cooling plant required would have been enormous. Yet you see quite a lot of 'glass' coming into architecture in recent years. Without an understanding on the part of architects as to the effect it has on indoor climate.

A small house, I know nearby designed by an architect had a glass roof to the stairwell. It resulted in overheating problems in summertime. Yet when doing the original design, this wasn't considered. Gradually architects are getting more wise to this.

The other building which springs to mind, in relation to glass, is beside Grand Canal harbour. That large multistorey glass tower building designed by Shay Cleary architects. To build an all glass apartment block, I think was pretty dumb. But hey, what do I know.

I could dig my heels in, even further with other examples closeby too. But I don't feel like it right now. Suffice it to say, that Irish architecture has still a long ways to go before it understands glass, and what to do with it.

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Re: Any experience I should look for for energy efficiency specification?

Postby garethace » Thu May 07, 2009 10:26 pm

Planning is interesting but does not have that craft feeling. I'm just disappointed that many Architects just don't care for building. This happened before we need an Architecture that reflects our new epoque, The age of Scarcity.


There are other issues also, in addition to scarcity I believe. The problem with many renewable sources of energy, is that they simply cannot 'scale' enough to meet the world's demands. Even if one could wave a magic wand tomorrow, and introduce all the renewable technologies one liked.

There is the cost implications also. We haven't fully realized this yet - the costs of renewables versus more traditional energy sources. It is a gigantic problem, with many dimensions and no one is able to grasp it fully. I guess the fact that a litre of petrol costs less than a litre of clean drinking water should tell us something.

I was recommended a book called 'Brittle Power' by Amory Lovins, a while ago. I have only flicked briefly through the downloadable version. It is worth checking out, if you haven't already come across it. Lovins has another work, which is downloadable by chapter also, Natural Capital.

Both nice books, both very, very good stuff.

I listened to a podcast or two of Amory Lovins online I remember last year some time. In terms of passive houses, I guess he is a pioneering figure. But again, we didn't tend to hear about people like this in Ireland. That is, until recently.

If you have time, listen to Bill Joy's interview here:

http://www.pbs.org/cringely/nerdtv/shows/

Joy is involved in the venture capital industry now, and working with some green technology. His boat project was based around the idea of incorporating the technologies, and seeing how they could fit together in real life.

I suppose if one really wanted to scare oneself, this kind of thing is what you need:

http://www.apollo-gaia.org/PlanetEarth/index.htm

A lecture David Wasdell gave at Tallberg.
It is quite griping stuff indeed.
And I take the point he makes in relation to 'low carbon', or 'zero carbon'.
If Wasdell is correct, then we will need to extract carbon from the atmosphere, rather than just aim for low carbon.

And lets face it, in terms of construction and design, we are a long way off of 'low carbon' as it is, not to mind going beyond that.

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Re: Any experience I should look for for energy efficiency specification?

Postby garethace » Mon May 11, 2009 11:05 pm

Interesting slide from Prof. David McKay.

B.
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Re: Any experience I should look for for energy efficiency specification?

Postby keating » Tue May 12, 2009 1:56 pm

garethace wrote:And lets face it, in terms of construction and design, we are a long way off of 'low carbon' as it is, not to mind going beyond that.
Brian O' Hanlon


Part L 2010 is not so far off. 60% improvement = Passive house.
Consultation starts in September.

Great Post Brian, Amory Lovins spoke at the Institute of European Affairs in North Great Georges St. last week. 'Winning the Oil Endgame'. He spoke of the huge oppertunities Ireland has for innovation in Green Tech. His focus is on Efficiency over Energy production (redesigning for radical efficiency). He helped on the design of a car that used 1/10 of the diesel but with more power. Aerodynamics, traction and weight of a composite frame were the main savings.

There is a great opertunity for a changing of the guard in Architecture. The Architects of 2010-20 will be a different animal to those of 2000-10. Those who can utilise scientific principles whilst designing low cost solutions will prosper. Business as usual Architects who resist the move towards a Architecture as a science will find it more difficult to maintain a business. We all need to be able to design for water vapour diffusion in highly insulated fabric, or design for zero cold bridging and Airtightness under one air change. There is huge oppertunities for those who can adapt to the age of scarcity.

James Lovelock (last month speaking in UCD) estimates that world population will have fallen back to 1bn by 2100 from its current 8bn. Their wont be enough to go around for our Children. He describes these isles and New Zealand as Lifeboat Islands. We'll be spared the worst of 'Global Weirding'. But just as the Roman Empire shrunk into a village that fit inside the Colluseaum, we have to recognise that our way of life is on a descent curve. Planning to adapt to that reality is common sense. Hope for the best but plan for the worst.

Bringing this back to architecture, low energy is not about bolting on fancy equipement ists abouit using the simple tools of Architecture. Christover Alexander et all. Best klessons in Passive House is to look at the old abandoned cottages in the countryside. Siting, Orientation, compactness, daylight. The first year stuff.
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Re: Any experience I should look for for energy efficiency specification?

Postby reddy » Tue May 12, 2009 2:21 pm

keating wrote:Bringing this back to architecture, low energy is not about bolting on fancy equipement ists abouit using the simple tools of Architecture. Christover Alexander et all. Best klessons in Passive House is to look at the old abandoned cottages in the countryside. Siting, Orientation, compactness, daylight. The first year stuff.


Exactly, and to be fair I honestly think the vast majority of architects know this and know how to implement their knowledge. If the client pushes the sustainability agenda, most architects will be capable of providing a good service.

To get back to the original query, I'm not sure we never actually answered it!

Personally I think look for houses of a similar nature in the architects' portfolio, demonstrating an understanding of the various issues above. There are some sustainable construction groups out there such as Easca. (http://www.easca.ie) which might be able to point you in the right direction.

Maybe ring the RIAI as well and see if they can recommend someone? Good Luck.
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Re: Any experience I should look for for energy efficiency specification?

Postby garethace » Tue May 12, 2009 3:55 pm

I am reminded of something I heard recently, that about 50% of the employees in the energy industry (the old fashioned one) are due for retirement in the next decade. So couple that demographic fact, with the current trends in all fields, and we are going to see rather radical changes. (I am deciding not to say the word 'soon', because it doesn't quite apply given the scale of what is ahead) But certainly within a twenty year timeframe, a lot of projects should be nearing the stage, where they are a go.

I guess what McKay is saying too, is that it will require endeavours of greater scale and ambition, than what we are seeing to date, to sort it all out. And in that sense, the 20+ timeframe to project take off, seems right to me. Projects of sufficient scale to wean the British Isles away from fossil fuel dependency. That is why the 2003 EPBD is so critical I guess, it go the ball well and trully rolling.

We have our kids to answer to, in a lot of this I guess. Our action or lack of it now, is going to define a lot of parameters in the lives of people who are now being born. I was reminded recently, while reading Chris Goodall's book, A Green Guide for Business, how British Telecom waded in the whole ways, into renewable wind generation. One wonders if a measured approach is more appropriate. What if technology improves as rapidly as I suspect it will, and the investment that BT has made to date, starts to look more like a weight around their necks.

Short video by Prof. David McKay.

http://www.800.cam.ac.uk/page/122/cambridge-ideas-how-many-lightbulbs.htm

His website and book:

http://www.withouthotair.com/

He has some nice slides, on the sidebar on the right on this page:

http://www.withouthotair.com/talks.html

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Re: Any experience I should look for for energy efficiency specification?

Postby garethace » Tue May 12, 2009 4:13 pm

Bringing this back to architecture, low energy is not about bolting on fancy equipement ists abouit using the simple tools of Architecture. Christover Alexander et all. Best klessons in Passive House is to look at the old abandoned cottages in the countryside. Siting, Orientation, compactness, daylight. The first year stuff.


Pity the software doesn't take this in account though. Either on domestic or commercial side. We have to be careful, that we give the client bang for the buck too. And while the above described items are definitely sustainable in a real way, they are not benchmarked presently. I could go into some reasons for that, but it is decidedly mathematical, and has to do with the EPBD, and its proper understanding. The EU went for an asset rating, which would allow one to compare one building with another. Assessments done at a distance, often for dwellings which are in the planning process.

There are advantages in that approach. It can be highlighted at design stage, the opportunities for quick wins, and low hanging fruit with regard to energy management. This can be then caught at construction stage. The other approach, would be to model up the entire site etc, and perhaps the dwelling would get built. Then you would have this beautiful mathematical model of the actual site, and the wind rose and whatever. But at expense of time, money and experts too. And the fact the building would be built, would prevent very many alterations at all.

We need to be reasonable here. There are 1.6 million dwellings alone in Ireland. The real danger is that solar-this and heat pump-that sales men are going to 'burn' through whatever money is out there, without any proper real consideration of energy savings. This is BS. But you know what good and talented salesmen are capable of - why do people drive Porsche cars around Dublin at 20 miles per hour? ? ?

The ideal is the control and carefully funnel the €10,000.00 per dwelling average investment into something worthwhile, (we don't have it to waste like before) and to build up an industry level of skills in retro-fitting. That will stand to the whole country as a worthwhile investment and resource going forward.

Passive home is brilliant - given the time, and skill level augmentation process, which needs to happen first. Sequence is key. See my point about British Telecom's investment in wind generation above. I mean the trouble is, we see so many wonderful examples in the press coming from Britain, and the continent of sustainable design. But we forget, those are completely different markets.

I was reading the Energy Saving Trust document on light bulbs recently, and it described that in the 40 year average electrical re-wiring cycle for dwellings, about 800,000 dwellings in the UK undergo substantial wiring upgrades each year. (Probably a figure based on boom-er times I realize, but still) Even at the height of it, the Irish market was about an 1/8 of that. And that required us Irish poor slobs to practically commit leveraged suicide, to buy 2 and 3 extra properties. Garda's and civil servants becoming property investors. That was sustainable to begin with.

The point is, there is a pot of money about €3 billion euro in size out there, in the potential retro-fit industry. The skills aren't there, the expertise isn't there and the customer common sense isn't there. So we need to be careful, really careful, how we manage this opportunity.

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Re: Any experience I should look for for energy efficiency specification?

Postby keating » Wed May 13, 2009 3:51 pm

garethace wrote:So we need to be ercareful, really careful, how we manage this opportunity.


Down with that sort of thing!

Your completely correct in cutting through the greenwash. We havent the luxury of waiting for the builders to upskill. We have to be master builders and teach them how to build. I spend most my time standing over builders screaming at them for using expandable foam which is a terrible product for airtightness. I've become obsessive compulsive about air leakage, dont get me started about moisture migration, I could rattle on like Stephen Hawkins for hours.PHPP isnt object orientated its an excel spreadsheet, it allows you input local data from a website or an on site weather station. The defaults are Dubin Airport or Birr. The BER gives relative energy estimates compared to a bad reference house. Its not a design Tool. I'll send you a sample PHPP work sheet if you PM me
I 'm doing an unsustainable but ultra low energy Passive house for near €100 per square foot builders finish in a nice rural location (for an Urban Client). I'm more businessman than principled greeney, but as Amory Lovins said, 'We are the generation we've been waiting for'. No Excuses. If your client wants a minimum standard house, then tell him he's an idiot( with all due respect). Design him a slightly smaller space but build him a technically much better house.
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Re: Any experience I should look for for energy efficiency specification?

Postby garethace » Wed May 13, 2009 6:26 pm

Thanks for the feedback on everything. Especially in relation to the builders. The more I think about it, you are correct. We cannot wait for builders to up-skill. I don't wish to tar all builders with this same brush though. There are some out there would prefer to be self-motivated. But now that you mention it, the norm is really rather the opposite. I am interested in hearing any other peoples' opinions on this also.

I understand the principles at work behind the BER calculation, and how it uses the reference building etc. Perhaps if I had given it a run, in the design process stage, I would have found out its limitations as a design tool. I'll PM you in minute. That excel tool would be really interesting to have a look at.

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Re: Any experience I should look for for energy efficiency specification?

Postby garethace » Wed May 13, 2009 6:55 pm

Another discussion on the topic here:

http://www.archiseek.com/content/showthread.php?t=7585

B.
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Re: Any experience I should look for for energy efficiency specification?

Postby rachat024 » Fri May 29, 2009 10:31 am

Well, there are something wrong with the page. I cant log in to your page. Pls check it.

http://pret-auto.org
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Re: Any experience I should look for for energy efficiency specification?

Postby garethace » Mon Jun 15, 2009 9:40 pm

I noticed a group of posters at Dundrum shopping centre recently, where the detailed the construction of the centre over a number of boards hung on the wall. It is on the ground floor as you walk out to the ladies and gents. Quite a nice presentation. One figure caught my eye, the 13 megawatts required to power the centre. To give some example of what that is equivalent to in renewable generation terms, take a very sunny climate and throw acres of solar PV panels on the roof. The attached photograph is a 1 megawatt installation on a cold store in California.

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Re: Any experience I should look for for energy efficiency specification?

Postby garethace » Mon Jun 15, 2009 9:54 pm

As you can see in the attached, they have managed to find space for PV panels everywhere you can think of.

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Re: Any experience I should look for for energy efficiency specification?

Postby mulp » Thu Jun 18, 2009 5:37 pm

With reference to the RIAI spokesperson above:
I emailed her after the programme to point out that "Passive House" was actually a prescriptive standard and not some woolly notion about a sun panel here and a ventilation cowl there. The response I got back made me even more concerned about architect's 'expert' knowledge:

"I was not holding out to be an expert in passive solar housing. The question came unexpectedly and I was not quite sure the context without blinding people with too much technical info when I was there to promote Simon open door."

I hadn't stated that she should be an expert in anything, but surely an Architect should at least know what terms like Passive House mean? Especially if they put themselves forward to take part in radio Q&A sessions.
The architect in question is a partner in a well-known London firm.

What prompted me to write to her was a real concern that the market for 'Eco' products seems to be becoming saturated with sellers who know very little about the fundamentals behind their products. We are being told that thousands of jobs will be created in our green economy. It is quiet likely that a significant proportion will be created by those who care mainly that this 'opportunity' is one for profit, not what is most appropriate for individual home owners. It doesn't take much knowledge or expertise to source, import and sell the latest green equipment. Some vendors will take advantage and will mis-sell, there is not a lot we can do about that.

The architect on the radio caused confusion, and did nothing for the profession. I know many non-professionals who have higher awareness of sustainability and the Passive House standard.
The profession has responsibilities:
"Let us avoid a new technocratic priesthood of greenwashing experts. We must remember that environmental sustainability is not just a new fashion, but an ancient practice" (Brian MacKay-Lyons).
What would be useful, are Architects who can confidently inform clients and guide them through the myriad of products and solutions with real expert knowledge.
mulp
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Re: Any experience I should look for for energy efficiency specification?

Postby garethace » Thu Jun 18, 2009 7:11 pm

What prompted me to write to her was a real concern that the market for 'Eco' products seems to be becoming saturated with sellers who know very little about the fundamentals behind their products.


I will say a little bit more about the automobile manufacturing industry below. Toyota have some very interesting perspectives on the above. Amory Lovins of course, who I quote below from his book 'Natural Capital' has got the benefit of seeing into several industries: Aviation, automobile, real estate etc. The above is a point well made, and it provides me with an ideal oppotunity to put in a reference to a very useful book on marketing used by the technology industry that I know and love so well for many years now. Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore is a book anyone involved in the young energy conservation business should read very carefully. One of the basic points in its thesis, is that early victories selling new technologies to 'early adopters', . . . customers who are easy to sell to, who will buy anything almost, if it is the 'latest thing', . . . is often followed by a much tougher period in terms of sales, after the early victories. Failure to 'cross the chasm' at this stage is the downfall of many a young enterprise. Moore uses the analogy of the landing at Normandy beach in 1944 to make his point.

To be honest, my biggest criticism of the architectural profession on the subject of energy conservation, is that they have only won a couple of easy and early victories. They have no grand strategy to invade the beaches of Normandy. They are contented to pose alot, try to look cool and show up to the relevant awards ceremonies. In that sense, they haven't done the whole energy conservation industry that many favours. If and when the energy conservation industry falls out of favour, which it will do, architects will care less about it. It is not that they aren't sincere about a green future. But the task of achieving a 'green future' represents a direct assault on the way in which they conduct their professional business. Green design implies more integration of architectural skills with other skills to obtain the efficiency required to call your design green. It implies having a closer workiing relationship with the people who carry out the work on site too. An awful lot of this simply is not possible within traditional contractual arrangements. No matter how much you try to stretch them. Boundaries will have to be rubbed out, if new efficiencies are to be achieved. See attached PDF document for a little more elaboration on this.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossing_the_Chasm

Moore's book applies equally well to young designers hoping to persuade people to move towards a renewable direction, and also to materials/products suppliers who hope to find markets also. I very much enjoy the way Moore describes one group of customers, he calls 'Laggards' who never will buy any new technology. I have tried at length in the recent while to articulate some difficulties that architects need to overcome in terms of their business model. See links posted below. Someone sent me this very interesting quote from Hawken and Lovins today.

http://www.natcap.org/images/other/NCchapter5.pdf

"Conventional buildings are typically designed by having each design specialist “toss the drawings over the transom” to the next specialist. Eventually, all the contributing specialists’ recommendations are integrated, sometimes simply by using a stapler.Green builders, in contrast, are insisting on the sort of highly integrative design process that was used by the Amsterdam bank, a process that melds diverse skills and perspectives into a whole that is greater than the sum of its constituent parts. One of the best ways to ensure that this takes place is to have the architects, engineers, landscapers, hydrologists, artists, builders, commissioners (specialists who get the building working properly between construction and occupancy), occupants, maintenance staff, and others who have a stake in a particular building all design the building together.

All these stakeholders collaborate in a “charrette” process—a short, intensive, teamwork-oriented, multidisciplinary roundtable—to ensure that key synergies between design elements are captured and that those elements work together to yield big energy and resource savings at the lowest possible cost."


There is not a hope in hell that the business model for architecture in Ireland is ready to take on the ideas described in the post above by Hawkens and Lovins. Ironically, organisations like the one Liam Carroll built up over two decades were ideally suited to the task, if the right vision was present at the top of that organisation. I am in no doubt that the 'vision' is sincere within the body of professionals that is the RIAI, but they are simply not experienced in organizing human labour at the scale required to deliver on renewables. I would compare working for Liam Caroll to something similar to the car industry with Toyota. I know that from my experience working at Dell manufacturing facility in 2001/02, which was structured around the Toyota ideals. Liam Carroll's genius was to make everyone he employed a problem solver, or to use the modern slang, a knowledge worker.

How Toyota Turns Workers Into Problem Solvers

http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/3512.html

The products and services characteristic of our modern economy are far too complex for any one person to understand how they work. It is cognitively overwhelming. Therefore, organizations must have some mechanism for decomposing the whole system into sub-system and component parts, each "cognitively" small or simple enough for individual people to do meaningful work. However, decomposing the complex whole into simpler parts is only part of the challenge. The decomposition must occur in concert with complimentary mechanisms that reintegrate the parts into a meaningful, harmonious whole.


A very interesting organisation in Ireland which has imported the right management ideas I believe is Dublin Airport Authority. You will see a document I produced earlier in the year in the thread linked below, named 'Future for Irish Architects'. Another organisation which has top class project management skills is ESB Networks. The guys at ESB Networks made the point in a recent lecture, that the business model had to change radically a decade ago, in order to allow financial means to flow into ESB Networks. It had to de-link itself from the parent organisation to a certain extent. But the unfortunate thing was, this never happened in telecommunications. So the investment could never flow into that area in Ireland, as it did with our power grid infrastructure.

Brian O' Hanlon

Future for Irish Architects..
http://www.archiseek.com/content/showthread.php?t=7628

Apathy at the RIAI
http://www.archiseek.com/content/showthread.php?t=7607
Attachments

[The extension pdf has been deactivated and can no longer be displayed.]

garethace
 
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Re: Any experience I should look for for energy efficiency specification?

Postby garethace » Thu Jun 18, 2009 7:17 pm

Here is the bones of what I issued to someone involved in the energy production business here in Ireland not so long ago. There are too many people claiming expertise (including myself) in something, where the basic understanding is still beyond our grasp. The main point of my photos above, is to remind myself and other folks too hopefully, of the sheer scale of construction required in the renewable energy roll out.

Brian O' Hanlon


One of the guys from Hawaii who is involved in one of the online communities debating sustainable futures is interesting to listen to. I was quizzing him about the large PV solar farms shown in some of the presentations. Because he lives on one of the smaller Hawaiian islands, his situation is really like a test bed for something much larger. Not totally unlike our situation here in Ireland in fact. If one did not want to approach wind generation as 'our oil'. But simply to take care of one's own energy demand locally.

That debate will have to take place at some stage. Are we more interested in security of supply issues, and dealing with that problem. Or are we more interested in exporting a clean, green renewable energy product. There are two sides to that debate at the moment as I see it. And you could also say, a third side, who believe we could simply be a centre for technological development and innovation in renewables. That in turn could foster an opportunity for economic well being in Ireland. By attracting the best brains from around the world to come and work or study here. That appears to have been the route taken by the universities at the moment, from my brief encounters. There could indeed be an opportunity for economic regeneration out of this. A pity though, that we cannot provide clean, efficient finance though, and we would have all the bits needed to go into Green Tech big. (Or having a good enough international reputation to borrow capital at attractive rates) Timing is everything, as they say.

I know of a project underway now to import gas in liquid form via a terminal on the Shannon estuary made a point in his lecture to the RDS this year. While at a presentation about the project, the speaker mentioned this fact. No one yet has really got their head around, the scale of operations required to have large scale renewable energy production. The speaker compared the challenge to implement full renewable energy generation to something like a world war. He related to the fact that in WWI, Churchill decided to import oil instead of depending on Welsh coal mines. It was said the allies won WWI on a wave of oil. Fossil fuels might be part of the solution, as we move towards renewable energy. Fossil fuels will be necessary to get us to where we want to go, in terms of achieving a renewable future. I thought it was a point well made.

David MacKay, whom I heard speak in Trinity is able to deal with the issue better than most I would say. His book is available to buy at Trinity science building on Pearse St, or to download from his website.


http://withouthotair.blogspot.com/

http://www.withouthotair.com/
garethace
 
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