The Emerald Project

Irelands First Co2 Neutral Public Housing

In April 2011 construction of the Emerald Project was suspended due to the contracting company going into liquidation.

The Emerald Project design comprised 37 both social, affordable and wheelchair dedicated dwellings in a mix of apartments and houses around community areas with shared renewable energy and natural resources. It was to be the flagship green project of Ballymun Regeneration in Dublin and Cluid Housing Association along with the Emerald Co-Op were the clients and users.

Emerald was to be a landmark building both in terms of its design for advanced sustainability and its approach to issues of community creation, lifetime design etc.

It was designed by Solearth to be the country’s first CO2 neutral /negative public housing project and relied almost exclusively on natural and low embodied energy materials to achieve this.

Ecological and Sustainable advances included:

  • CO2-free heating /comfort.
  • On site renewables (PV, Solar thermal and Biomass)
  • Power consumption efficiency (cool larders / passive fridges, clothes drying rooms)
  • Passive heat recovery ventilation (using a new generation of supply air windows)
  • Water recovery and efficiency (based on the Living Machine)
  • Smart electrics
  • Resources use feedback and monitoring
  • Low embodied energy, healthful and natural materials
  • Super insulation and airtightness
  • Radiant wall heat delivery
  • Habitat creation and sustainable urban drainage
  • Renewable Transport Innovations
  • Food growing
  • Waste and composting
  • Replicabilty

Community is fostered in the design with both own door access to the apartments in each block, with the entire building complex arranged around a secure, lush central courtyard.  A  visitors’ centre that incorporates a sunny, multi-purpose room, as well as a community room and many shared activity facilities are included in the design. From a lifetime design point of view, the residents’ changing requirements over the course of their lives is addressed in the layouts, unit mix and design for expansion. Two wheelchair friendly units provide further potential for the resident to stay within their community as their situation may change.

Sustainability innovations abound: ultra low u-value walls made of natural insulation and low embodied CO2 wood and ceramic honeycomb block; solar PV and thermal panels; central biomass space heating; cool larders;  living machine wastewater recovery;  supply air windows for (passive) ventilation heat recovery, among others, all contribute to the dwellings being CO2 neutral and A rated for DEAP.

The design emerged from the apparent conflict between perfect solar access and the urban influencers of the BRL masterplan. It explores the potential of an architectonics derived from contrasting material expressions; harder to the exterior (street) elevation, more tactile treatment to the courtyard and the maximisation of productive surface. Here the potential of roof and wall to harvest rain, collect heat, harness sunlight (as electricity) and generate oxygen are all explored, indeed allowed to become form-givers of the scheme. This is best evidenced in the dramatic solar wedges to Block A.




Contract Value:
€6 million
Ballymun, Dublin 9
SEAI Energy Awards 2005 – Building Specification Award