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Retrofit Strategy and Policy

Ireland has set some of the most ambitious climate targets of anywhere in the world with a 51% reduction across all sectors by 2030. Across the built environment mass retrofit is proposed. 500,000 homes are to be retrofit by 2030, many undergoing deep retrofit. If implemented, this will result in the consumption of huge quantities of materials and resources with considerable associated embodied carbon. It is essential we get this right, and aren’t retrofitting the retrofit in 10 years time.

However, there is a glaring lack of evidence based research into the efficacy of retrofit, with much policy and opinion presented in the national press without a strong evidence base. Filling this gap is one of the primary aims of the BIACE lab.

Recent (opens in a new window)research undertaken as part of the SEAI funded nZEB101 project has shown that super-insulated fabrics commonly underperform, often due to architectural detailing issues and a lack of understanding of envelope physics. Over the next 8 years 600,000 heat pumps are to be rolled out. These are seen as a panacea, benefiting from the decarbonisation of our electricity grid, and replacing our fossil fuel home heating systems. In a recent (opens in a new window)research paper we showed that heat pumps typically operate well below their proposed rated efficiency, often due to installation errors and system sizing mismatches. Post occupancy evaluation (opens in a new window)research studies of deep retrofit social housing, showed that retrofit houses often underperform. Designed to be retrofit to A standard, many fall well short, primarily because people choose to live at warmer temperatures.

BIACE is also working on two newly funded projects for the SEAI in 2022. The MacAirH project will Monitor and Control Air to water Heat pumps. Through extensive monitoring of heat pumps in-use it will investigate the reasons for heat pump underperformance, propose solutions to correct this and disseminate results through training.

Contact the Building in a Climate Emergency Research Group

UCD Richview Campus, D04 V1W8, Belfield, Dublin
T: +353 1 716 7777