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Cnoc Na Gaoithe: Transforming a Historic Convent into a Sustainable Cultural Center

By 14 de September de 2023No Comments

September 2023 /

Cnoc Na Gaoithe, a historic convent in Co. Clare, Ireland, originally built in 1883, underwent a remarkable transformation. With the guidance of BUSGoCircular, the project resulted in enhanced comfort, reduced carbon emissions, and a commitment to sustainability, making it a shining example of heritage preservation and modernization.

The project was a renovation of Cnoc Na Gaoithe, Co. Clare, Ireland, originally built in 1883 as a convent. The building was handed over to the Tulla community in 2011 then renovated and developed into an Comhaltas Irish music and cultural centre with six bedrooms upstairs for guests to stay. A Tea/Refreshment extension room was built in 2019. Cnoc Na Gaoithe is a heritage listed two-story building. The building has a useful floor area of 361m². It consists of a reception area, practice/classrooms, exhibition rooms, study rooms, a communal kitchen, bathrooms, and bedrooms. The match for BUSGoCircular was made possible through invitations to assess the building renovation measures, with TUS (Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest) leading the way with its extensive expertise in building renovation and retrofitting. There was also enthusiasm from the board to add it to EU projects such as BUS-GoCircular.

The programme was established by a building survey and mentoring of some of the board members to establish the energy efficiency measures and the implementation of circular principles. The site inspection took place and involved a detailed walkabout and discussions with the building operator, Breda.

Heating requirements are met by two 64kW oil boilers, which supply hot water and central heating using radiators throughout the building. The second boiler was added in 2017, and both oil boilers now operate simultaneously in a cascade system to provide heat to the building. The building is zoned, with the ground floor and first floor heated independently of one another. The building’s fabric was assessed through visual inspection an appeared to be in good condition, aside from dampness build up on certain walls. Windows and doors were also surveyed at the time of the site visit and was noted that existing windows (single glazed) in the main building are in poor condition with poor air tightness and need to be replaced along with all the wooden doors. Also, the insulation under the floorboards of the raised wooden floors has fallen into disrepair in places and needs to be replaced and a wind tightness membrane added to the underneath of the floor joists in the basement.

The following opportunities were identified:

  • Upgrade attic insulation
  • Install internal wall insulation
  • Replace windows and doors
  • Upgrade heating system to a heat pump
  • Re-Install floor insulation with wind tightness membrane to ground floor

The mentoring was also given to the installers of the measures to adhere to the circularity principles, such as not to remove all the windows just the sashes, then repair and improve air infiltration around the frames and openings. The removed sashes were also reused through construction of a glass house for food production. Additionally, and some removed sashes went to a heritage house which under conservation regulations was mandated to keep the aesthetics of all envelope components. Therefore, the sashes were repaired and installed into the traditional building no new materials were used. All the existing insulation was retained, dried and reinstalled. The render/plaster removed from the internal wall renovation was all reused as aggregate filler in a local project where new footpaths were being installed, reducing the need for quarrying new stone aggregates. The heat pump replacing the oils boiler reduces the CO2 emissions of the heating system and in the future, it is planned to install PV and storage batteries which will then be able to supply renewable energy to the heat pump as percentage of the heating load. The feedback is the building is more comfortable due to higher levels of insulation and airtightness.