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HOW CAN PREFABRICATED RETROFIT PANELS BE USED TO UPGRADE IRELAND'S EXISTING HOUSING STOCK?
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Prefabricated retrofit panels provide a new method of retrofitting that incorporates off-site philosophies with existing retrofit strategies to create a new way of improving the performance of Ireland's housing stock .
A prefabricated retrofit panel is a method that incorporates prefabrications with external wall insulation to improve the fabric of an existing building1. Due to the Climate Action Plan, the demand for new strategies to retrofit the existing housing stock is growing. This study evaluates if prefabricated retrofit panels could be used to upgrade Ireland's existing housing. The research shows that the prefabricated system has higher flexibility in finishes, materials, and renewable integration2. The study highlights the key factors when designing a prefabricated retrofit panel and justifies these findings through thermal analysis.
The methodology used in this study involved the analysis of the existing prefabricated panel market. This investigation identified methods that would improve the buildability and success of a prefabricated retrofit approach. A panel was then designed to conform with Irelands building typologies. The panel's build-up and performance were identified through a series of experiments. Comparing a timberless to a timber system helped identify the system's structure. U-value and weight calculations provided the panel's thermal layer. The panel's performance was then tested using Psi therm and DEAP. The thermal analysis showed that the panel significantly reduced thermal bridging through the wall and critical junctions. The DEAP calculation, performed before and after the retrofit, further provided clear evidence of the panel's improvements to the building's performance.
The study results show that the prefabricated panel provides higher flexibility in the retrofits design as there are no longer limitations on the materials and finishes that can be used. The system also has a high end of life potential. This is due to its deconstructability; the panel's materials can easily be removed and recycled at the end of life. This approach also provides a new way of satisfying the growing demand for retrofits in the existing housing stock. Its ability to be mass-produced may be the answer to the 75,000 B2 retrofits a year stated in the Climate Action Plan. The panel's ability to achieve a BER of B2 further strengthens its case to be used in the Irish retrofit market.
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