Sustainable Design

Technical Briefing – PHAI Ireland CPD event in conjunction with RSUA

The Passive House Association of Ireland will be presenting, in conjunction with the Royal Society of Ulster Architects, a CPD Technical Briefing on the topic of the upcoming challenges that NZEB will pose and the role of Passive House in overcoming them.

Passive House CPD Briefing Thursday October 2017 

Venue: Riddel Hall, 185 Stranmillis Rd, Belfast BT9 5EE

 9.00 Registration;Tea and Coffee

Paul McAlister, PHAI Chairman, Paul McAlister - Passive House Architect - Challenges and solutions of meeting NZEB through the Passivhaus Standard; The performance gap in traditional construction techniques.

Declan Loane, Quinn Group -  Innovative Quinn-Lite blocks: reducing thermal losses in line with NZEB and avoiding the performance gap.

Dr Shane Colclough-  PHAI Vice-Chairman, Ulster University The cost of building to the near Zero Energy Building standard. A financial case study.

Eddie Ward, Gapogroup Airtightness Innovations for High Performance Buildings: avoiding the performance gap.


Speakers Declan Loane, Quinn Group, Paul McAlister Passive House Architect, Dr Shane Colclough- PHAI Vice-Chairman, Ulster University, Eddie Ward, Gapogroup

Speakers Declan Loane, Quinn Group, Paul McAlister Passive House Architect, Dr Shane Colclough- PHAI Vice-Chairman, Ulster University, Eddie Ward, Gapogroup

PHAI Briefing event at Ecological Building Solutions

Really great evening with inspiring presentations from Emmet Nee, Maurice Falvey, (Nilan) Gary O'Sullivan, Michael Hanratty (Managing Director at IHER Energy Services) and Paul McAllister at our Passivhaus Briefing Ecological Building Systems Ltd. Head office in Athboy. Thanks to all speakers and attendees!


Paul McAllister - Passive House Architect,  Michael Hanratty  (Managing Director at IHER Energy Services),   Maurice Falvey , (Nilan) Niall McCrossan ( Ecological Building Systems )  Gary O'Sullivan , (The National Standards Authority of Ireland) and  Emmet Nee , (Passive house Contractor)

Paul McAllister - Passive House Architect, Michael Hanratty (Managing Director at IHER Energy Services),  Maurice Falvey, (Nilan) Niall McCrossan (Ecological Building SystemsGary O'Sullivan, (The National Standards Authority of Ireland) and Emmet Nee, (Passive house Contractor)

CREST Centre – Seminar – Achieving Excellence in Sustainable Construction

CREST Centre – Seminar – Achieving Excellence in Sustainable Construction

The Centre for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technologies (CREST) is an exciting new initiative through which support is being provided to SMEs in Northern Ireland, the border counties and Western Scotland to enable them to develop sustainable ideas.

Action Renewables Awards at Titanic Belfast

Action Renewables Awards at Titanic Belfast

The Action Renewables Association annual awards were held on Tuesday 20th March at Titanic Belfast.  The event which was held in association with Tughans and Travelwise NI, was a great success and recognised ten local companies for their innovation in renewable energy technologies, thought-leading sustainability and awareness raising initiatives.

Sustainable Ireland Awards 2014


Paul Accepting his award for our work on The CREST project

Pictured with representatives from South West College, the main contractor PJ Treacy and the sponsor of the awards Kingspan

Crest Centre Award - Pictured above Adrian Logan, Sean McCarron of PJ Treacy & Sons, Contractor; Paul McAlister; Malachy McAleer and Joseph Martin, both from South West College; and the Kingspan sponsor.

Crest Centre Award - Pictured above Adrian Logan, Sean McCarron of PJ Treacy & Sons, Contractor; Paul McAlister; Malachy McAleer and Joseph Martin, both from South West College; and the Kingspan sponsor.

Review and Photos of See the Light 2013

The Passive House Association of Ireland (PHAI) held this year’s annual Irish Passive House Conference, “See The Light”, on Friday 25 October 2013 at DIT (Dublin Institute of Technology).

The conference was a great success, with delegates, exhibitors and organisers all agreeing that the event generated a lot of positivity.  A very informative day of talks from a strong line-up of national and international speakers culminated in the keynote address by Prof. Wolfgang Feist founder of the Passive House Institute.  This was followed by the panel discussion with Pat Cox former E.U. President and Prof. Brian Norton, President of DIT and chaired by Frank McDonald, environment editor of the Irish Times.

Passive House Briefings - Thursday 21st March 2013

Fifth Passive House Briefing attracts over 50 people to the University of Ulster.

The University of Ulster at Jordanstown, Centre for Sustainable Technologies, (a founding member of the Passivehouse Association of Ireland), hosted a well-attended Passive House Briefing on Thursday evening last 21st March.

The University which is ranked fourth in the UK in regard to Sustainable Technologies and Research was also showcasing its own ‘state of the art’ Passive House Test Studio, which includes a solar array that can replicate all types of solar conditions for research purposes. The Campus also includes the largest wall mounted PV array in the UK and two purpose built terraced houses to facilitate energy research and modelling of retrofit solutions.

Full Programme:

17.00 Optional Tour of Laboratory including Ireland’s First Passive House Test Studio

17.30 Tea, Coffee and Sandwiches served in Loughview Suite, Room 8H01B

18.00 Prof. Neil Hewitt, University of Ulster – Welcome Address

18.10 Paul McAlister, Architects & Energy Consultants – “Passive House – What does it cost?” – An actual project with actual costs

18.30 Dr. Shane Colclough, University of Ulster – “Passive Houses – Current Research in Ireland”

18.50 Mark Gribbin, Setanta Construction – “The Importance of Thermal Bridging”

19.10 Peter Keig, Eco Energy (NI) – Case Study: “Eco-Energy Retrofit, Grove Housing Association Belfast”

19.30 Martin Murray, Chair, Passive House Association of Ireland – Q&A and Close

Feedback on the event has been very positive. As reported by one of the attendees, John Humes of Povall Worthington Architects: “A brief note of thanks and praise for a superb seminar on Thursday evening. I have attended a number of similar events over the years – on this occasion I came away further inspired.”

Sustainable Build Technologies Breakfast Seminar

You are cordially invited to attend a Sustainable Build Technologies breakfast seminar at Southern Regional College (SRC) as part of the launch of our new i3 initiative. i3 provides support to business and industry through research & development, mentoring, knowledge transfer and specialist training services.

Date: 31st Jan 2013
Location: SRC, Portadown Campus.
Time: 7.30am – 9.00am

Guest Speakers

Paul McAlister – Paul McAlister Architects are an award winning architectural practice committed to design excellence, sustainability and commercial reality.
Tomás O’Leary; Passive House Academy – Tomás is the principal trainer and a co-founder of the Passive House Academy, an accredited Passive House training provider and Director of MosArt Architects.
Joseph Little; Joseph Little Architects & Building Life Consultancy – Joseph Little is the principal consultant with Building Life Consultancy, servicing the construction industry and other Architects to facilitate a step-change in knowledge of building physics, thermal bridging and health in buildings.

For more information or to register for this events, call the i3 team today on 028 3025 9664 or email


Carbon Zero NI - “Sustainable Developments in Architecture”

This free symposium will address developments within Architecture and Construction and the opportunities presented by demands for the industry to be more sustainable. By acknowledging the ability of the Architecture profession to respond to external influences in the past this event will consider how the construction industry is preparing for a future where renewable energy technologies, ultra-low energy design and sustainable development is the norm. “Sustainable Developments in Architecture”This free symposium will address developments within Architecture and Construction and theopportunities presented by demands for the industry to be more sustainable. By acknowledgingthe ability of the Architecture profession to respond to external influences in the past thisevent will consider how the construction industry is preparing for a future where renewableenergy technologies, ultra-low energy design and sustainable development is the norm.

Venue: Millenium Centre, Portadown, Co. Armagh, Time: 9.30 a.m. – 1.30p.m.To register for this seminar please contact:

Anne Toner,

Tel 028 30259664



Southern Regional College:

Carbon Zero NI:

Creative Seed:

Paul McAlister Architects achieves 3rd Low Carbon Home in Northern Ireland.

We are delighted to announce that Paul McAlister Architects have achieved the 3rd Low Carbon Home in Northern Ireland. The Low Carbon Homes scheme is a rate relief which aims to encourage the building of low and zero carbon homes in Northern Ireland. This is a scheme that provides full rate relief to the first occupier of a new low carbon home for up to two years or up to five years for the first occupier of a new zero carbon home.

Paul McAlister Architects Drumlin House low carbon home designed to Passive House principles

Paul McAlister Architects Drumlin House low carbon home designed to Passive House principles

What is a low or zero carbon home?

Whether low or zero carbon, the home will be highly insulated all round (ground and exposed floors, roof(s) and exposed walls). The home will also be very airtight to reduce heat losses due to draughts. The basic concept is to ‘build tight, ventilate right.’ Low carbon homes are likely to have highly efficient condensing boilers (up to 97% efficient) to provide space heating and also solar water heating and/or mechanical ventilation with heat recovery.

Zero carbon homes are likely to have wood or wood pellet burning stoves for space heating or alternatively, air or ground source heat pumps, or even a mix. This will be coupled with solar panels for domestic hot water and Photo Voltaic panels (PV) or wind generators to produce electricity (electricity being the most carbon intensive energy source of all with a generation efficiency of around 27%). These are just some examples of what you could expect to see in a low or zero carbon home

What do I need to do to build to these standards?

Anyone wishing to build a low or zero carbon home may wish to seek the advice of a building professional (architect/energy consultant) who is also a qualified On-Construction Domestic Energy Assessor (OCDEA). As certified ODECA consultants PMC Architects can advise the most cost effective route to achieving low or zero carbon standards.

How will I find out if my home is low or zero carbon?

If your home meets these standards we will provide you with a zero/low carbon certificate at the same time as your New Build EPC is issued. We also offer this service during the design process to incorporate low carbon design into your new home.

Who do I contact?

Phone 02838355111 or go to for more information.

Passive House Seminar – 21 June 2011 Architecture, Eco Friendly

Passive House Seminar – A design methodology and voluntary performance standard for optimised energy use in buildings. It results in buildings that require little or no energy use for heating or cooling, have excellent internal thermal comfort and low primary energy use. See how you can profit from many years of experience in Passivhaus building technology. 

The seminar will focus on the following themes:

Paul McAlister Architects will speak about Passive House principles and outlinehow a Passivhaus fits with Code for Sustainable Homes and Zero Carbon Homes. He willalso showcase several Passive house designs including a new social house scheme near Dungannon.

Mark Gribbin will speak about the Satanta Passive wall system and how this isachieves Passive house standards of airtightness and cold bridging .

Brendan Harte of Baskil Window will introduce the first UK and Ireland CertifiedPassive window, the ‘Futureproof’ window, and outline how the product has changed thelow energy window marketplace.

Art McCormack of the Irish Passive House Academy, the designer of Ireland’s firstPassive house, will give his unique insight into Passive House design and the training that isavailable through the Irish Passive House Academy to designer and architects.

Finally, questions & answers session and then tour of the Environmental Skills Centre byPaul Henry of SERC.


New | Renew Seminar - South West College, Omagh - March 2011 -

On Wednesday 30th March South West College will introduce the New | Renew project to the Tyrone and Fermanagh region through the first of a series of specifically designed, fully funded, seminars on ‘greening’ new and existing buildings.  These seminars will be of interest to practitioners, contractors and professionals in the construction and related industries.  They may also be of interest to anyone planning on building a new home and to existing homeowners who are considering retrofit/refurbishment projects.  The first seminar focuses on new buildings and retrofit/refurbishment and will start at 10.00am on Wednesday 30th March in South West College, Omagh Campus, and everyone is welcome. This introductory seminar will have industry experts such as Dr Patrick Waterfield who will focus on the Code for Sustainable Homes standard.  This standard is already mandatory to Code level three in social housing and is due to be introduced in the private sector to Code level six by 2016.

Jim Kitchen will discuss the ‘Carbon Countdown,’ proposed as the currency of Sustainable Development.  Prof. Neil Hewitt, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Technologies, University of Ulster, will discuss the application of renewables to existing homes.   Prof. Hewitt is a leading researcher into the most appropriate use of renewable technologies in new and existing buildings including houses.

The term 'PassivHaus' refers to a specific construction standard for buildings which have excellent comfort and energy efficiently ratings.  These principles can be applied not only to the residential sector but also to commercial, industrial and public buildings.

Paul McAlister of Paul McAlister Architects is Northern Irelands first Certified Passive House Designer and will explain the principles of achieving the passive house standards and the potential of Passive house retrofit.

Dawson Stelfox MBE will discuss his experiences in the area of conservation of existing buildings and in inherent sustainability of maintaining and working with existing structures.  The retrofit of existing structures, the means of upgrading a structure, needs to meet ever increasing standards will be outlined.

John Woods will outline the scope of the Green New Deal cross-sectorial initiative for NI.  The Green New Deal is an initiative which intends to realise the refurbishment of thousands of homes and in the process generate 2,500 new jobs it the construction industry.   This initiative is aimed at ‘Homeowners’ and at addressing the situation faced by 44% of NI’s population who live in fuel poverty and cannot afford to heat their homes.

The project has been set up as part of the SWC sustainable construction curriculum expansion programme to deliver informative seminars in response to increasing standards in the industry.   The Technology Department at SWC offers a wide variety of courses in sustainable construction including Foundation degrees in Sustainable Construction Engineering, Architectural Technology with Sustainable Design, Civil Engineering and Transport and short courses in Sustainable Construction.  New | Renew aims to follow through with events later in 2011 on the application of the topics Code for Sustainable Homes, PassivHaus standard, renewables for homeowners and green retrofitting.  These informative seminars will allow local construction and related business as well as single home owner’s access to leading expertise in the evolving standards the industry must meet in new and refurbishment/retrofit construction work by 2016.

These events are free to everyone, and are jointly funded under Carbon Zero and Colleges Northern Ireland.  Carbon Zero NI provides technology development and innovation support to Industry and Colleges Northern Ireland is the membership body for Northern Ireland’s six Colleges of Further and Higher Education.

Please register your interest in attending the seminar with Gemma Keenan on 028 82255223 (ext. 4229) or email

SelfBuild - Extend & Renovate Show

Paul McAlister Architects will be exhibiting at this years SelfBuild - Extend & Renovate Show, King's Hall, Belfast 18, 19 & 20 February, 2011

The SelfBuild Show will feature new products and technologies to enable and promote sustainable building practices throughout Ireland. With the price of home heating oil doubling within a year and utility bills rising by double digit percentages, nearly everyone is feeling the effects. But have you considered a house that is so thermally efficient that it does not require a conventional boiler or alternatively using natural sources of energy such as geothermal heating to meet your requirements?

Join us at the SelfBuild Show in Belfast to engage with suppliers and find out all you can about the latest products and technologies that can help you with your project.


Planning in Northern Ireland needs more collaboration, say experts


A group of leading house builders has urged greater flexi­bility and collaboration in Northern Ireland's planning and roads services to help deliver high-quality new developments. The recommendation was one of several to come out of the visit of a 16-strong delegation to the town of Poundbury in Dorset, (Prince Charles inspired townplanning) fa­mous as an example of sustain­able urban development.

The visit in November was led by Environment Minister Edwin Poots and leading architect Daw­son Stelfox of Consarc Design Group. It included delegates from Karl Construction, Connswater Homes, the Patton Group, Turk­ingtons and North and West Housing, among others.

In a feedback report published this week by Business in the Com­munity (BITC), which facilitat­ed the trip, the delegates said the visit highlighted shortcomings in the local development process, but also many principles that are transferable to Northern Ireland.

"The main lesson from Pound­bury is that it needs collaboration from planners, road engineers and developers to produce the best schemes. We don't have that here:' said Mr Stelfox. ''We have . a process-led planning system where planners assess what they are given. We need to move to a system where stakeholders all have a say; where you can see what's possible rather than hav­ing a confrontational approach."

Northern Ireland's planning service has been criticised for being the slowest in the-UK. Delegates said planning in Northern Ireland is currently "more a regulatory regime than an opportunistic one" and urged Planning service to become more flexible, using policies to guide rather than dictate and reviewing alternative methods of planning. They said Poundbury illustrat­ed the need for planning officers here to show more discretion with ideas outside normal policy.

The report said the planned regeneration scheme in Glenarm would test whether a sustainable approach to planning can work in Northern Ireland, and would probably show the need for clos­er collaboration between the planning and road service to be successful.

Among the key recommenda­tions made by the BITC group were that the Government and in­dustry:

  • Improve integration and communication between agencies and other industry stake­holders such as Planning Ser­vice, Roads Service, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, ar­chitects and developers.
  • Promote a collaborative approach to planning based on sustainable design principles. Promote and develop a more flexible interpretation of exist­ing guidance to embrace the key principles of urban design and de­liver sustainable communities.
  • If necessary develop further design guidance based on sus­tainable design principles to in­terpret and implement different planning policy statements.
  • Help promote existing Poundburys already developed in Northern Ireland such as Woodbrook 'Eco Village: in Lis­burn, built by the Carvill Group or Mayfield Garden Village in Newtownabbey.
  • Consider best practice from other models of sustainable plan­ning such as Manchester Local Authority where all related serv­ices are under one roof with po­litical consensus and support.
  • Promote and run the Pound­bury Series training courses in Northern Ireland for relevant professionals.

Responding to the report's rec­ommendations, Anne Garvey, di­rector of operations at Planning Service said “I am pleased to confirm that Roads Service has agreed, following receipt of the draft Poundbury Feedback Report, to play its part in any change process with Planning Service in the lead and involving other key stakeholders.

“I can assure you that both Planning Service and Roads Service are aware of the desire for change in the planning of residential developments, and are prepared to play their part, including learning lessons from elsewhere in terms of policy guidance and the general approach to handling planning applications and pre-application discussions.”