top page banner
new build page header

Building Contractors



Passive & Energy Efficient Builders

                 Phone:  022-27494        



If you are planning and or building a new house at present you might strongly consider incorporating some or all of the recommendations highlighted below.
While the Building Regulations require that new buildings achieve minimum standards of energy efficiency, higher levels in many cases are well worthwhile. An energy efficient design can yield considerable savings over time, while enhancing the criteria and value of your new home. It will also contribute to the reduction of Co2 emissions.
plans imageThe Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has proposed introducing ‘carbon-neutral’ energy standards for residential development from 2013 onward. This could also involve fees (TAX) for houses that do not meet the standards required in the future.
Planning an energy efficient home now is definitely a decision that could greatly benefit you and your environment in the future, including the added bonus of financial savings.

Site Selection

The selection of your site could have a huge bearing on the efficiency of your new home in many ways. For example, by locating your new home near to your work place, school, public transport routes, etc. transport energy consumption will automatically be reduced. Other factors in the choice of site that should strongly be considered are the possibilities of solar gain, shelter and renewable energy options.

house imageSolar gain is the transmission of sunshine through windows (passive solar heating) that can reduce heating costs.  The ideal site would be one that would be exposed to the low-altitude winter sun. It should be noted that the front of the site does not need to be facing south. In fact in most standard house designs a side facing south site is preferable with the rear of the site facing east, as most planning authorities request the front of the house to face the front of the site. This allows morning sun in the kitchen areas and evening sun in the lounge/front room in the evenings, which corresponds the working of the dwelling with the sun’s orientation.

Selecting a site in a location that would be sheltered from the wind can significantly reduce the heat loss from the home, which saves on heating costs.  Shelter can be provided by nearby trees, adjacent buildings or surrounding hills. Shelter can also be provided in time through the planting of trees and shrubs. It is preferable to have the northern side of the site with the most shelter. Take note to try and have a good balance of shelter while still acquiring the advantages of solar gain as stated above.

wind turbine imageRenewable energies other than solar, such as wind power, biomass and geothermal should also be considered when selecting your site. The size of the site can determine if one can install renewable technologies such as a wind turbine or horizontal ground source geothermal, as both of these require certain dimensions of ground to be installed and are not suitable in small sites (mainly in urban settings).   Larger sites can be very beneficial as they can address the issues mentioned above and if large enough can lend themselves to facilitate biomass by the planting of trees etc.  A site with a pond or stream running through it can accommodate water source heat pumps. Sites located on high ground can really utilize and harness the assets of wind power especially if facing southwest.
In certain areas the possibility of obtaining heat from a combined heat and power plant or group-heating scheme may also be an advantage if your site is within their catchment area.

Design of building and orientation.
To reduce heat loss, the surface-to-volume ratio of your building should be kept to a minimum, which would suggest a square structure would be optimal.  However, a rectangular building with a longer facade facing south can allow for increased solar gain (passive solar heating), natural lighting and ventilation.  This allows for significant reductions in energy costs. Projections including bay and dormer windows should be kept to a minimum, as these increase the surface-to-volume ratio and thus will increase heat loss.  Dormer windows and roof projections also tend to be more difficult to insulate effectively. Pitched roofs should have one slope oriented south to allow for optimum performance of a roof incorporated solar heating system.

Energy assessment.
It can be critical to investigate, utilise and accommodate renewable technologies at the planning stage of your home. There is a method of calculating annual heating energy consumption, which should also be used to compare alternatives at a preliminary design stage. While some or all of the above may not be planned as part of the initial build due to budget etc., it still should be a priority at design stage to try and allow the building to meet its full potential to take advantage of all the possible facilities of a site. All of these systems can be retro fitted at a later stage and good initial planning could prove vital in the future.


  © Matt Fitzpatrick | Site by Big Push Design