This colloquium discussed how to integrate buildings into the surrounding landscape in order to maximise physical sustainability, which is characterised among other things as energy usage, water, waste, lighting, ventilation and impact on the landscape. With careful design buildings can be created that work with the landscape in which they exist to minimise the need for boilers, air conditioning and artificial light while also minimising their physical and visual impact on the landscape.
Both architects gave a wide range of examples of passive architecture and green building projects in Ireland which can provide a starting point for the greater integration of sustainable design into future building projects. A few examples include the Daintree building in Dublin which was built with a positive aspect to maximise passive solar heating, it also has solar thermal panels on the roof and rainwater is harvested and reused. The Emerald Housing Project in Ballymun is in the planning stage but has been designed as a carbon neutral development. It employs features such as recovery of waste water on site for treatment and reuse, green roofs provide drainage solutions, digital readouts of energy usage to allow occupiers to reduce energy wastage and ecoducts which create a cool larder area and reduce the need for refrigeration.
The Environmental Research Institute, UCC was designed to take advantage of passive thermal warming and natural ventilation, heat exchange from refrigeration rooms has eliminated the need for boilers. Graham also discussed the large scale mixed use development Elm Park on the Merrion Road, Dublin. In the construction of the apartment buildings the first block was built with full contact with the ground in order to alter the wind flow across the site and assist with ventilation of the other buildings, the other apartment blocks had a reduced foot print on the ground. CHP is employed using two wood chip boilers which supply all the domestic hot water to the apartments, and all the electricity to the commercial buildings.
In a similar line of discuss to last week’s colloquium the need for the occupier of a passive building to understand how to efficiently use the building to its maximum potential was highlighted, and from this followed on a discuss about the need for a soft landing hand over between designer and occupier. It was concluded from an audience discussion that design needs to be client focused in order to encourage green architecture to be supported and to facilitate efficient use of buildings once they are completed.