Cork house wins gold standard in sustainability

Criteria consider water, light and air quality alongside BER energy standard

A private house in Douglas, outside Cork city, designed by Wain Morehead Architects, has been awarded the first gold certificate in a new Irish sustainability rating, the Home Performance Index.

Launched by the Irish Green Building Council (IGBC) in 2016, the Home Performance Index (HPI) is Ireland’s first national certification for quality and sustainable residential development.

It goes much further than the better known Building Energy Rating (BER) standard because as well as assessing the energy efficiency of the building, it assesses water efficiency, indoor air quality, the impact of construction materials used, the quality of daylight in the house, the ecological impact of the building and its flood risk.

Proximity on foot and by bicycle to schools, shops and access to public transport are also included in the assessment.  Currently only new houses are assessed in the HPI but the IGBC hopes to extend it to existing and refurbished houses in the next 18 months.


“A Home Performance Index certified home is a good indicator of the quality of development.  It adds to the home’s value and generally means reduced energy, water and transport costs for the home buyer and therefore reduced risk of mortgage defaults,” says Pat Barry, executive director of the Irish Green Building Council.

The Cork city house awarded the HPI gold certificate had a very high level of energy efficiency with an A1 BER and Passive House certification.  But notably, it also has excellent daytime lighting, very good indoor air quality and it consumes 85 per cent less water than a standard house.

“We particularly liked working with our suppliers to understand the environmental impacts of their products.  The timber, the window frames and the paints were all locally sourced,” says John Morehead, managing director of Wain Morehead Architects.

Sylvia Thompson

Sylvia Thompson

Sylvia Thompson, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about health, heritage and the environment