mulp wrote:Irish Times, Friday, 02 March 2007:
"Director of the RIAI objects to energy standard for new homes"
A dispute has broken out in the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) about an objection made by its director, John Graby, to higher energy performance standards for new homes in DÃºn Laoghaire/Rathdown.
In a letter to the county council last month Mr Graby said it was the RIAI's view that "such matters are properly dealt with through the building regulations regulatory systems and not by variation to [ county] development plans".
Although the institute "fully supports the concept of improved standards in energy efficiency and sustainability generally", this "should be dealt with on a national basis by the Minister for the Environment . . . and the Building Regulations Advisory Board".
The DÃºn Laoghaire/Rathdown proposal had been examined by the RIAI sustainability task force and it was felt that there would be "substantial problems" in implementing it, "including lack of agreed standards, methodologies and local authority resources".
The Irish Home Builders' Association, which also opposed setting a standard 60 per cent higher than the current regulations on the basis that it was "not achievable", said that the industry's concerns about the proposal were "fully shared by the RIAI".
However, one member of the sustainability task force, who did not wish to be identified, said that all of its members "supported DÃºn Laoghaire/Rathdown wholeheartedly" in adopting the new standards, and they had requested a meeting with Mr Graby to discuss the issue.
"I can only say that we were very unhappy about the tone of the letter, which was very negative and wouldn't have been something that we endorsed."
Mr Graby said that he discussed the matter with John Goulding, who chairs the task- force, and he had agreed that energy standards for new housing should be dealt with on a national basis rather than by individual local authorities imposing their own standards.
Â© 2007 The Irish Times
There can be no doubt left now that this Government, or its likely reincarnation after the general election, will resist dragging our inadequate Building Control Regulations up to the minimum standards for energy performance, that we know they should be at. Lobbying by vested interests in the construction / developer sectors are the chief factors involved in preventing progress. Part L of the building regulations is treated more often than not as a target to hit, rather than the bare minimum acceptable.
I commend Dun Laoghaire Rathdownâ€™s decision. We need to see more County Councils demanding these changes. If a Fianna FÃ¡il government wonâ€™t legislate for these issues, we need Councils who can consider more than vested interests, to do so on a local level. Piecemeal progress is infinitely better than no progress.
â€œLack of agreed standards, methodologies and local authority resourcesâ€, are the problems cited by Mr Graby. What exactly is the problem with the lack of a nationwide consensus on standards, methodologies? A large proportion of my work is in the DLRD area and I see no such problems. Architects are (generally) intelligent enough sorts. Surely they can cope with one set of rules in one district, and a differing set elsewhere? Hell, why not just encourage clients to use the higher standards everywhere? Its not as if Mr Architect is going to be out of pocket, surely clients will comprehend that additional work incurs additional expense. Nobody expects us to work for free, do they?
As for Local authority resources, one of the six copies of drawings submitted goes to the building control department, and they often ask for a set of drawings showing compliance with Building Regs. when the commencement notice is lodged. The applicantâ€™s agent will have done the â€˜workâ€™. What kind of additional resources would be required to confirm that a new standard is complied with as opposed to an old one?
Enforcement of compliance is certainly a critical issue. I am an architect, and from first hand experience, I believe that architects, in general, should not be left to certify compliance with regulations. I have recently overseen the retrofitting of insulation into four newly built townhouses. NO roof insulation had been fitted in these houses. The roofs had to be completely stripped to fit the insulation as the ceiling followed the roof pitch. The RIAI registered architect who inspected & certified these buildings initially told my clients that their roof was indeed insulated, with a foil-backed plasterboard!
He then saw no difficulty in cutting 6 large holes (300mm dia) right through the new insulation to accommodate unsuitable lights and stated to me that â€œIt says nowhere in the regulations that you cannot do thisâ€! Sure it doesnâ€™t, and neither does it say you can cut six large holes in the newly laid DPM. He also was unaware of any requirement to provide ventilation space above the insulation and did not know what it was for.
This is by no means an isolated incident. I am sure we all know of some architects who operate like this. Despite what the RIAI will say about the professionalism of its member architects, members can, and do continue to turn a blind eye to (or be ignorant of) breaches by developers while developers are paying their fees. Even if these architects are a minority, this is not good enough. The system does not work â€˜effectivelyâ€™ and unfortunately, paid â€˜professionalsâ€™ let down the buildingâ€™s end user or purchaser in too many cases.
In the case of the 4 houses above, the architect explained to me: â€œWe inspected the works on a fortnightly basis, the builder had sealed up the roofs and ceilings between vistsâ€ Had he indeed! Well thatâ€™s OK, just issue the cert thenâ€¦
How many Building Control Inspectors have been employed by Local Authorities to deal with the scale of development this country has / is experiencing? How much funding has central government provided for this?
How many times has Mr Graby and the representative body of Architects in Ireland called for a proper Building Control System such as that in place in Northern Ireland, with mandatory approval required before construction commences?
Why is Mr Graby now criticising the commendable, democratic decision taken by DLRD County Council to demand proper energy and insulation standards and apparently dissenting from the opinions of members of the RIAIâ€™s own sustainability task force?
Surely the RIAI should be supporting DLRDâ€™s actions.
Does â€œThe Director,â€ Mr Graby need to take more Direction from the members, the Council and the Sustainability Task Force of his own Institute?
apelles wrote:So this must also be by the same John Graby?. . Otherwise known as ONQ's nemesis.
hutton wrote:This is one of the most erudite posts Ive read in a long while. Spot on.
MG wrote:Looking at "The Destruction of Dublin" by Frank McDonald, I came across the following mentions:
"Take the case of Bord Iascaigh Mhara, the state's sea fisher- ies development board. In the late 1970s, its chairman and chief executive, Brendan O'Kelly, thought it would be a good idea for BIM to move its headquarters from Ballsbridge to a fishing port. Various sites were examined in Killybegs, Dungarvan and Galway but, in the end, the board decided to 'decentralise' to Dun Laoghaire -less than five miles from its offices in Hume House. There was, of course, a reason for this laughable decision. The site of the proposed new headquarters at Crofton Road, overlooking Dun Laoghaire harbour, was 'sold' to O'Kelly and the then Minister for Fisheries, Brian Lenihan, by politically well-connected developers, Brian and Tony Rhatigan, who had been sitting on it since 1972. Through a company called Starling Securities, they had bought the site for about Â£60,000 and got planning permission in the same year for a five-storey office block, designed by John Graby, their favourite architect. But the Rhatigans played it safe; they weren't going to go ahead with this building until they had some guarantee of letting it. So they sat back and waited patiently for a good fairy to make their dreams come true."
"By the time this block was finished in 1972, the brothers were 'bursting with development ideas', as Hibernia reported, and they attracted the attention of Slater Walker, the controversial British investment vehicle whose asset-stripping operations had become part of the unacceptable face of capitalism. Several joint companies were set up -with registered offices at Haughey Boland and Co. in Amiens Street -and Slater Walker agreed to lend them Â£5 million to develop a selection of sites. But if the London men were hoping to hit the jackpot in Ireland, they were badly mistaken. Indeed, their brief sojourn here turned out to be disastrous. High-priced sites bought up in boom times had to be sold off at huge losses when the market collapsed in 1974 and Slater Walker decamped shortly afterwards. Suitably chastened, the Rhatigans lived to fight another day. They bought the con- demned Scotch House on Burgh Quay and built a hideous mock-Georgian office on the site, replete with aluminium sash windows and a multi-level 'Mansard' roof. Designed by John Graby, it was let to the Department of Posts and Telegraphs and then sold to Irish Pension Fund Unit Trust. And in a consortium with the Investment Bank of Ireland and the McMullan brothers, of Maxol Oil fame, the Rhatigans built over five hundred houses in the grounds of Castletown House."
Is this the same John Graby who is now the Director of the Institute?
teak wrote:Probably just trying to suggest that although nominally an executive for the current president of your organization, he is given long rein to make a lot of initiatives on his own, in the name of acting in the best interests of his employers -- a kind of power behind a distracted throne.
But I doubt if this is the real story in RIAI any more than it is in other professional bodies.
The "expert" bureaucrats are a common excuse by presidents who want things to go a particular way, in a way that suits them.
In any case, it is really the president who is supposed to actively lead the organization during his/her tenure, especially in relation to matters with significant public impact.
But maybe your president is busy shoring up his own practice these days.
onq wrote:......but John Graby remains constant, a one man-civil service.
In that regard John Graby is more like Sir Humphrey Appleby in Yes Minister - the real power behind the RIAI throne.
DOC wrote:I mightn't agree with all you say, but this did make me laugh (probably because it's true!).
I'll never be able to look at Graby with a straight face again - all I can see in my mind now is Jim Hacker (or Sean O'Laoire, Paul Keogh, or whoever it might be) with Sir Humphrey (or Graby) hovering, spinning, etc.