Built on stilts, entirely encased in recycled newspaper insulation on all sides, and designed to be easily taken apart so that its constituent elements can be reused once it reaches its end of life, Portlaoise Train Drivers Building truly is a milestone for sustainable development in Ireland. In addition to this it is also a certified passive house which means it uses a ventilation system for heating purposes without a conventional central heating system. It uses an air-tight envelope with top insulation and triple glazed windows. The resulting energy consumption is 90% lower than a conventionally built house. The passive house standard was chosen as the low energy approach, making this the first passive house building for any railway company in the world as well as being the first Irish commercial building certified by the international Passive House Institute. In passive solar building design, windows, walls, and floors are made to collect, store, and distribute solar energy in the form of heat in the winter and reject solar heat in the summer.
The building is 200 square metres and consists of changing rooms with showers, toilets, a manager’s office, an administrative office and a large open plan driver’s rest area. The building caters for drivers on the Dublin-Cork line and is in constant use with 3 shifts per day, all year round. The Passive building concept suits the building’s 24 hour usage pattern particularly well and provides a comfortable and healthy environment for drivers between working shifts
Every aspect of the building was designed with an effort to be as Eco-friendly as possible by utilizing recycled materials and renewable technologies, for example the building’s largest energy demand is for hot water for the changing room showers, and 70% of this is met by a solar panel system on the roof. This systems consists of an 11 square meter Kingspan Thermomax evacuated tube solar array that’s hooked up to a 500 litre tank.
WARMCEL insulation was selected for this project as it is manufactured from recycled newsprint and has a Global Warming Potential of -1.9, actually lowering the structure’s carbon footprint. It also enables airtight installation, preventing energy from easily escaping the building and helping the structure achieve Passive House certification.
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