At the Energy Action European Conference 2013 (sub-titled ‘Reframing Fuel Poverty in Europe’) in Ballsbridge Hotel on 11-12 March Joseph Little presented a paper proposing that rendered terraces of Dublin’s inner suburbs presented an ideal opportunity for medium retrofits on an area basis and large scale that could greatly help alleviate Dublin’s fuel poverty.
Why rendered terraces?: very simply the rendered walls allow external wall insulation, and the terracing allows savings in terms of mobilisation, scaffolding, scale: all the front elevation first, all the rear after, etc. We also included the moving forward of existing windows (improving airtightness and reducing thermal bridging) , 300mm of attic ceiling insulation, insulation to the pitched areas of ceiling (where there was none before) and demand-control mechanical extract ventilation to ensure occupant health in their now warmer, more airtight house. The way we propose these interventions should mean as little invasion of the dwellings as possible and almost no re-decoration work. The occupants need not move out and speed of works is optimised.
We created a map of the rendered terraced houses of north and west inner suburban Dublin (extending locally as Cherry Orchard and Finglas) and overlaid this on the fuel poverty map of Dublin that Feargal O’ Neill, MD of Gamma Ltd had created (He also talked at the conference: www.gamma.ie/blog/feargal-oneill/2013/03/07/energy-action). As a result we have mapped many of the areas and specific roads where this innovative retrofit is most needed. The terraces of Ballyfermot, Cabra and West Finglas featured prominently. We propose that this study with its mix of costings, location analysis and techical innovation should be the blueprint for some of the SEAI ‘Better Energy Areas’ schemes rolling out this year.
Importantly we proposed running the duct from the kitchen extract unit up the outside of the house inside the external wall insulation. ‘Wet’ rooms (like kitchen and bathroom) are extracted from, ‘dry’ rooms (like bedroms and living) are supplied to in this system. Fan power for the centralised fan in attic runs from 5-11 Watts only, and supply and extract modulates up and down on an as-need basis (triggered by humidity): brilliant and practical. Aereco and Glidevale are suppliers of this kind of system in Ireland. Condensation inside the ducting, and thermal bridging and thermal bypass around it are two genuine concerns for this approach: do they occur and are they problematic?: well, Little proved in the presentation that with our approach condensation won’t be an issue and that thermal bridges are acceptable (though a deeper retrofit could reduce them further).
At the end of the presentation Little gave costings for 1 house, 30 houses and 100. They came in per house at €15,060, €12,601 and €11,095 respectively. Bear in mind these costs include high quality finishes replicating the original features. We feel it’s essential that the works add to each house’s value and preserve the often subtle and under-rated streetscape these terraces collectively create: a valuable cultural asset of these communities.
You can download Little’s whole paper at: www.energyaction.ie/fuel-poverty-conference-2013.php