Sensible Sustainability.

Sustainable & Ecological Architecture

Cummins + Voortman RIAI Chartered Conservation Architects, Urban Designers, Artists,

BIM Consultants, Graphic Artists, Dublin, Tipperary, Kilkenny,  Ireland


Cummins + Voortman Ltd. strive to incorporate sustainable design principles into all work carried out. (Green Architecture) There is much focus on using sustainable principles to "save the world". However there are many areas where sustainable principles are of great benefit economically to the individual who is for arguments sake building their own home, renovating their apartment, extending their farm buildings/yard etc. Below is an short non-exhaustive list of areas where use of sustainable principles and common sense can achieve dramatic results.

Construction and other related Architectural processes contribute greatly to this country's greenhouse emissions, both during the construction process and the ongoing use/ general maintenance of buildings/structures. In many cases the methods of construction and processes are put in place with a very low level of appropriate technical input. Scant regard is given to what is commonly known as sustainable principles. There may be a large focus on the cost of the initial construction but little on the efficiency of various systems employed in the construction. By using sustainable principles one can reduce the direct need for artificial energy, vastly improve the quality of the built environment and save money, particularly if you are the direct contributor to the running costs of a building or structure. However regardless of cost issues, application of sustainable principles in architecture greatly adds to the well-being of the occupants of a given building/structure. Well-being may be hard to define or pin down, yet its relevance encompasses many aspects of a building one occupies not often considered in detail in Ireland including day-lighting, ventilation thermal comfort and material specification. Sustainable Architecture reacts and addresses climate, lifestyle, site characteristics. A list of considerations for a particular project may look something like this:

Insulation example:

By careful use of appropriate insulation materials and detailing one can dramatically improve the comfort for occupants of an existing apartment or dwelling. How often do you here people in Ireland comment at home “God it is cold today!” or “is the heating on yet?” etc. The normal reaction to dealing with a cold house has been to install a new boiler or larger boiler. All across the country houses were converted to oil or gas and no thought was given to the provision of insulation. Therefore the house was never really comfortable or else it cost a lot to heat. Did you know that buildings could be insulated externally? No need to line the walls internally and avoid all the associated disruption. Obviously it comes with a cost but if it is carried out in conjunction with a new coloured render you avoid having to paint the dwelling externally in future years making a saving.

There are foil based insulation sheets that are as little as 12mm thick, yet provide as much heat retention as 170mm of conventional insulation. These can be used to line internally in a dwelling where appropriate and vastly improve comfort of the occupants yet do not reduce the space internally in a perceptible manner.

Drainage example:

By use of alternative rainwater systems the need for and the costs associated with large rainwater run-off facilities or soakaways is avoided. Use of external paving that allows water to penetrate through and filter into the ground below can result in stunning results. This means a reduced need for clearing of blocked gullies and drains etc. More time to go for that walk or watch the latest football match on TV! Of course now rain harvesting is an option everyone should be looking at to reduce there dependance and use of the public water supply.

See more:

Sustainable & Ecological Practice:

General Principles of Heat Transfer and it's relationship to Insulation:


Sensible Application of Sustainability (by Cummins + Voortman Architects & Urban Designers)

Heat Transfer