With an expanding mission and existing buildings falling into disrepair, the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master wished to replace their convent and facilities at Blackrock, County Dublin. Ramboll's building services engineers worked closely with the Order and architect to develop the services design for a new centre within the grounds of the existing nunnery. The complex provides 1,200 sq m of accommodation for 14 nuns, including library facilities, areas for quiet contemplation and a place of worship.
The two-storey masonry and precast concrete building has large feature windows and is designed around multiple concentric and intersecting circles. We used thermal modelling to analyse the building to accurately determine heat load requirements and solar gain effects. This helped us identify the most efficient and cost-effective methods of heating and cooling the space and evaluate the options.
An air source heat pump with under-floor heating was installed, which is easy to operate and maintain. Using only 1kW of energy to produce 4kW heat, it is very efficient and helps meet the local council's requirement for 20% space and water heating to be provided by renewable sources.
Natural ventilation is used throughout the new complex, apart from the bathroom areas where electric fans are triggered with the light switch and timer controlled. Domestic modern light fittings were selected with the addition of proximity detectors to automatically shut off when activity has ceased in the main areas.
We undertook a Building Energy Review (BER) at the close of this project to determine energy efficiency and CO2 emissions. The audit confirmed our expectations from the original thermal modelling analysis and the building has a positive B1 rating.