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Deep Energy Renovation of Traditional Buildings: Addressing Knowledge Gaps and Skills Training in Ireland

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by Engel Purcell, Caroline (2018) 

"Deep Energy Renovation of Traditional Buildings: Addressing Knowledge Gaps and Skills Training in Ireland. Project Report." 

Heritage Council / ICOMOS Ireland.


The primary intent of this research project is to review the current state of knowledge and risks relating to the deep energy renovation of traditional buildings, which have different hygroscopic and thermal behaviours to buildings of modern construction, and which represent approximately 16% of the total housing stock in Ireland. One of the key characteristics of traditional buildings is that they are constructed of solid masonry walls that are ‘breathable’, ie. the building fabric allows moisture to be absorbed and released cyclically. This form of construction relies on vapour-permeable materials and higher levels of ventilation to ensure the well-being of the building fabric and the internal environment.


This document provides an overview of the important issues and risks relating to the energy renovation of traditional buildings and directs readers toward credible sources for further information. Building upon the STBA Responsible Retrofit of Traditional Buildings gap analysis report of 2012, the Annotated Bibliography section of this report assembles in one place a list of the statutes, standards, technical documents, academic research and case studies relevant to the deep energy renovation of traditional buildings in Ireland. This is a fast-moving field of research and since 2012, at least 54 further technical research and guidance documents have been published or revised that examine various aspects of the hygrothermal performance of traditional buildings pre- and post-renovation. Overall, of the 475 plus resources collected during the course of this 6-month project, more than three-quarters were published after 2012.


The Annotated Bibliography is designed to provide building practitioners with the resources and tools to specify deep energy renovation works appropriate to traditional buildings in Ireland and to help them span the persisting knowledge gaps in practice. Weblinks to the resources discussed in the text have been provided in the right-hand column of the document. Resources available for purchase are marked in yellow, while those available free of charge are marked in blue. If utilising these resources, please note the source document and authorship, and any copyright associated with that document.


Further objectives of this research are (1) to identify technical and non-technical barriers inhibiting the effective implementation of energy renovation in Ireland, (2) to identify knowledge gaps and areas for further research and based on the evidence identified, (3) to propose future courses of action. The promotion and dissemination of this research has already helped to create co-operative cross-institutional communication between senior members of the relevant State Departments, statutory bodies, non-governmental organisations and a broad set of stakeholders in the building sector. Continued collaboration is necessary to further explore and address the identified issues in a meaningful way. Taking stock of the current state of knowledge, as this report does, is an essential first step.