• 20 Jul 2023

Design4Zero – Moving to a Design for Performance Based Approach for Ireland’s Built Environment

The RIAI and the Irish Green Building Council (IGBC) have joined forces on a joint programme of research, support tools, guidance and up-skilling of professionals to address the much-needed decarbonisation of our built environment. Design4Zero is funded by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) under its National Energy Research Development and Demonstration Programme.

The project partners, IGBC and RIAI, will develop a framework to address energy use and embodied carbon through a whole life carbon “design for performance” approach. Building on a broad range of research and expertise, the Design4Zero project will help guide Ireland on a pathway to zero emissions buildings aligned with the proposed revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD).

To have a maximum impact on the industry, the Design4Zero Framework will be used to update the RIAI’s 2030 Climate Challenge aimed at building designers to transition them from a culture of ‘design for compliance’ to ‘design for performance’ across the full life cycle of buildings, including performance targets for energy and water in use and embodied carbon. It will also be integrated into the Home Performance Index and inform Green Public Procurement (GPP).

Specific outputs of Design4Zero will be: 

  • A ‘Design for Performance’ framework, including guidance on target benchmarks for the Irish market, focusing on operatoinal energy and water and embodied carbon.
  • Comprehensive training programme for Architects and Building Professionals. 
  • Strategic communications to disseminate the framework widely throughout the industry to ensure high-levels of awareness and participation in the decarbonisation of our built environment through design for performance. 

To ensure the Framework is highly practical and implementable, and to create a long-lasting impact, it will be developed through extensive stakeholder engagement and collaboration with the extensive networks of both partners, consisting of Architects along with Architectural Technologists, Engineers, developers, investors, educators, local authorities and central government. Design4Zero will build capacity within the industry, support energy efficiency improvement and contribute to a reduction of CO2 emissions in the built environment.

Speaking at the project launch, Pat Barry, CEO of the Irish Green Building Council, said: “This collaboration enables us to influence the design process and pave the way for zero-emissions buildings in alignment with the upcoming EPBD recast. With the support of SEAI, Design4Zero can drive the transition towards zero carbon buildings.”

Pranash Ramanundh, RIAI Practice Director said: The RIAI is delighted to partner with the IGBC on this important project which supports decarbonisation of the built environment and will help align design processes to contribute to Climate Change action and the RIAI Climate Change policy. Architects can lead on this through design, in delivering high-quality sustainable buildings and places. The RIAI will deliver on two key areas. We will deliver the training component from a proven track record in upskilling of registered members as well as civil service officials and will leverage the networks of both organisations to disseminate the findings and education stemming from this initiative, with a robust communications strategy."

Louise O’Connor, Research Development and Demonstration Programme Executive at SEAI said: “Our mission in SEAI is to be at the heart of the energy revolution. By supporting projects like Design4Zero, we can better inform on approaches that are best suited to the Irish context towards achieving zero emission buildings.”

This project has been funded by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland under the SEAI Research, Development & Demonstration Funding Programme 2022, Grant Ref: 22/RDD/820.