How to dismantle an energy-wasting house? Ask Larry Mullen, the U2 drummer (pictured here 2nd from right) planning to tear down his Howth home and rebuild it because of its poor energy rating.
The musician has applied to demolish his sprawling beachfront bungalow on Claremont Road and replace it with a 12,000 sq ft, six-bedroom property with solar panels and other ecological building materials.
While U2 were accused of creating a huge carbon footprint on their 360-degree world tour, the rockers care about the environment at home. Earlier this year, Bono installed a wood pellet boiler, an energyefficient heating system, at his Killiney home.
Mullen wants to revamp his northside base after discovering that it has a very poor building energy rating (BER). These ratings test a houseâ€™s energy performance, and are marked on a scale from A to G. Every house that is sold or rented is required to have a rating. When the drummer bought Claremont Lodge 20 years ago, it was a modest single-storey home, but he has added a series of extensions over the years. Planners acting for the U2 star and his girlfriend, Ann Acheson, say the house has â€œpoor circulation, poor energy efficiency and a very high BERâ€.
Mullen, who shares the house with Acheson and the coupleâ€™s three children, wants to demolish the property and replace it with a two-storey-over-basement â€œpassiveâ€ house. Experts claim that passive houses are 85% more energy efficient than conventional homes and produce 94% fewer carbon emissions.
Mullen, the only member of U2 still living on the northside of Dublin, will use an underground heat pump, solar panels and a â€œheat recovery systemâ€ to achieve this standard.
A submission to the council states that the new house will be â€œdesigned to achieve a good BERâ€. This will be attained by using triple glazing and a series of energy-efficient heating systems. Instead of a typical gas boiler, Mullenâ€™s house will have a natural gas high-efficiency condenser boiler that will heat underfloor radiators. The underground heat pump is 4.5 times more efficient than a traditional gas or oil heating system.
The drummerâ€™s home will produce hot water using solar collectors and Mullen will be able to heat and cool the house with a â€œbuilding energy management control systemâ€.
Last year, the musician was granted permission to bulldoze Claremont Cottage, an adjoining property, and add a series of extensions to Claremont Lodge, his main home, but he has decided that enlarging the house will only further diminish its energy efficiency.
Mullenâ€™s planning consultant says the existing accommodation â€œrequires substantial reorganisation and redesign to fit the familyâ€™s needs, and to comply with recent energy conservation standardsâ€.
The new house, Mullenâ€™s planner says, will take advantage of the locationâ€™s sea views and â€œreflect the siteâ€™s special position overlooking Irelandâ€™s Eye and the Sutton/Baldoyle estuaryâ€. Timber window frames and screens will create a â€œbeach-house styleâ€ in keeping with the seaside location.
Two neighbouring buildings were recently added to the Record of Protected Structures by the local council, but Mullenâ€™s agent insists that the musicianâ€™s house is of â€œlittle architectural meritâ€.
The roofline of the new house, which will face the strand at Claremont, will be kept low to make it as inconspicuous as possible from the beach. The height of the eaves will be 2.74m lower than the adjacent property, his consultant says. Inside there will be a gym, office, games room, playroom, several reception rooms and six bedrooms.
The Artane-born musician bought the neighbouring property to safeguard his privacy when it came on the market in 2000. Mullen paid â‚¬1m for the house, â‚¬320,000 above its asking price.
Plain sailing or nimby power to rock?