Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy Theses

Permanent URI for this collection

This collection is made up of doctoral and master theses by research, which have been received in accordance with university regulations.

For more information, please visit the UCD Library Theses Information guide.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 6
  • Publication
    Retrofit for Purpose? A Transaction Cost Analysis of Policy Delivery Constraints in the Home-Energy Retrofit Sector
    (University College Dublin. School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy, 2022)
    A considerable body of literature argues that energy efficiency upgrades through the retrofit of dwellings have the potential to reduce the environmental impact of the residential built environment. Several countries have set policy objectives targeting energy efficiency improvements across their housing stock, with European Union member states at the forefront of such commitments. However, many national contexts present a particularly challenging pathway to fulfilling such retrofit targets. Ireland represents such a case, where several constraints to delivering 500,000 deep energy retrofits in the residential sector by 2030 are evident. Furthermore, existing programmes incentivising retrofit in Ireland, as in other jurisdictions, have experienced disappointing levels of uptake thus far. For homeowners, a range of barriers are evident that may discourage their engagement with such programmes, including transaction costs. However, consideration for the links between scheme compliance criteria and specific transaction costs, as well as such costs acting as a barrier for the supply-side and contractor engagement, appear sparse. This thesis synthesises international evidence for transaction costs as barriers to retrofit uptake. It then builds on this evidence through a national case study of transaction costs in Irish home-energy retrofit programmes, including field research, that emphasises the under-researched perspective of contractors and their engagement to support ambitious retrofit targets. Perspectives on transaction costs associated with engagement in the Irish home-energy retrofit market are analysed. Results indicate that a significant constraint on the delivery of long-term retrofit targets is presented by transaction costs. In particular, the impact of these costs on market capacity for retrofit services supply appears poorly considered from a policy context. Strikingly, strong indications are provided that the costs of conducting home-energy retrofits through publicly administered schemes for contractors far outweigh those associated with alternative renovation works. From a commercial value perspective of scaled-up retrofit delivery this appears to suggest that, without targeted intervention to reduce the transaction costs associated with contractor engagement, Ireland’s policy objectives for retrofit are unlikely to be delivered in a timely and cost-effective manner.
  • Publication
    Performance evaluation of buildings and their envelopes in Saudi Arabia's hot climate
    (University College Dublin. School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy, 2022) ;
    Increases in global temperatures will be most pronounced in the mid-latitudes. TODAY, the GCC countries face harsh climatic conditions, and these conditions are getting more severe. In addition, development and building design have changed in recent decades, replicating the homogenous western design. Residential building energy consumption in the GCC countries is exceptionally high and increasing. Cooling interior spaces in severe climates requires a high energy load that is primarily generated by fossil fuels. The buildings built today will, throughout their lifetime, have a considerable impact on the environment. Retrofitting inefficient buildings to improve their performance and improving new building designs are urgently needed. This work aims to critically analyse typical residential building construction in the Gulf Region. It identifies thermal weaknesses in the construction leading to poor building performance and proposes simple corrective solutions. The analyses were conducted using numerical modelling, experimental monitoring and whole building simulation. This work also investigates inherent thermal mass and evaluates if this can provide an effective solution in current designs. In order to develop a holistic picture of residential building performance impactors, a range of envelope components are evaluated. Results show that current construction styles are substandard and fail to meet regulatory performance standards. As revealed, the most important factor that affects the building’s thermal performance is thermal bridging due to structural elements and mortar joints which is responsible for the maximum ratio of decreasing the energy performance of the building. Moreover, passive design solutions, such as thermal mass, are shown not to offer considerable savings, where cooling is intermittently active. Furthermore, this thesis provides a novel approach to measuring the impact of thermal mass on the building’s energy consumption. In addition, the Saudi Building Code lacks methods of analysing and calculating the thermal deficiencies of the building. Also, the effect of solar gain ingress through the building’s envelope is high and needs deep analysis depending on the building location. Therefore, these studies can significantly contribute to informing current and future building envelope design and construction practices. It can also act as a guide for future regulation revision across a large geographical area characterised by increasing population and development. Finally, the provided novel methodologies can be used to improve and inform future simulated estimation by researchers, architects and energy analysts.
  • Publication
    Andy Devane and the Architecture of the Modern Irish Office Block, 1963-1979. The Demanding Art of Orderly Development
    (University College Dublin. School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy, 2022) ;
    In 2017, a small cohort of the architectural profession quietly marked the centenary of Andrew (Andy) Devane’s birth, an event that was eclipsed by the news that permission had been granted to demolish his seminal building, AIB Bankcentre in Ballsbridge. The coincidence of the two events polarized the realisation that his work was not duly recognised and that his legacy was under threat. This project began as a shared initiative between Robinson Keefe & Devane (RKD) and the author. It has been funded by the Irish Research Council Enterprise Partnership Scheme with close collaboration between the author in the role of academic researcher, RKD as the enterprise partner and the School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy (APEP) at University College Dublin as the academic partner. The raw and vast RKD archive is the foundation for the research undertaken. Other strands of investigation include the Devane family archive, oral history, extensive analysis of secondary sources and visits to Devane’s buildings. The thesis focuses on Devane’s three Dublin office buildings which were designed and built within the years 1963-1979. It closely examines the conditions for architectural practice in the period and presents a thorough architectural biography of an Irish twentieth century architect. This thesis enriches our understanding of Devane and his work, Dublin and its twentieth-century development, and the architectural culture of the time.
  • Publication
    Aporia In Architectural Design
    (University College Dublin. School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy, 2022) ;
    This project is concerned with the nature of knowledge in architectural design. Despite the increasing variety of approaches to design practice and design studies, the nature of design inquiry remains controversial. The primary aim of this project is to cast a new light on the nature of design inquiry by combining the concept of aporia with design inquiry. Traditionally, the term aporia denotes a perplexing state of mind and a problem at hand caused by equally plausible but mutually exclusive propositions. Thus understood, aporia is either a searching or a stopping device in an inquiry, or both. We situate aporia within the previous accounts to detect if aporia is compatible with them and if it can supplement these accounts. We analyse concrete examples of situations in architectural design when, due to an emerging contradiction, a shift in inquiry becomes necessary. In these aporetic situations, designers lose traction in their inquiry because they discover equally good reasons to think two or more things, such that these reasons stand in an apparent contradiction to each other. The project explains that, on the one hand, encountering aporia in architectural design enables and generates the inquiry by establishing the necessity for a shift in design approach. On the other hand, aporia specifies the elements in the design situation that must be changed, supplies the direction, and propels the inquiry. We demonstrate that to understand the nature of design inquiry fully, at its best, and to claim that design inquiry can lead to knowledge, it is necessary to suppose that aporia (as traditionally understood) occupies an important place in such an inquiry. The project examines the reasons for design inquiries to be aporetic and considers the consequences of this on epistemological claims in architecture.
  • Publication
    Developing an adaptive thermal comfort model for passenger terminal buildings situated in hot climates
    (University College Dublin. School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy, 2020)
    This study evaluates the use of international thermal comfort standards currently being used in the south terminal of the King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA). The airport is located in Jeddah, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). The study was prompted by the hypothesis that the hot climate experienced in KSA, the acclimatization of those in the region, coupled with the widespread wearing of traditional clothing, justifies a unique model of thermal comfort. The south terminal of KAIA currently uses set points of 20-24 °C (ASHRAE-based comfort model). Most international thermal comfort standards are based on experiments that were conducted in moderate climates. These studies have two particular shortcomings in the context of those living in hot climates: they fail to consider that people in other climatic regions could have different thermal expectations and preferences, and many disregard the role of outdoor temperature on thermal comfort. The international standards prescribe temperature set points that are often too low for people who live in extremely hot and humid climates. Keeping the temperature at the international set point requires excessive amounts of energy and is wasteful and expensive. Public policy demands that the thermal control strategies in public buildings be evaluated to ensure that they are operating efficiently. Airports are of particular concern because they have HVAC systems that consume a disproportionate amount of energy relative to their size. This study, based on passenger surveys and energy simulation, considers the effectiveness of developing a model of thermal comfort as an alternative control strategy for the KAIA terminal and assesses its energy impact. In order to determine new temperature set points that might better serve the needs of the passengers and maximize energy efficiency in KAIA, this study: a) Conducted detailed surveys of passengers in the airport terminal; b) Obtained measurements of both physical and personal variables; c) Recorded behavior patterns of passengers; d) Collected all relevant data on the conditions inside and out of the terminal; e) Considered the impact that traditional garments may have on thermal comfort; f) Used the data from the surveys to create a new model of thermal comfort; g) Used computer simulation programs to test and compare a developed thermal comfort model with the set point currently used in the building. The results of the survey demonstrate the unsuitability of the ASHRAE-based comfort model (set temperatures of 20-24 °C) currently used in the airport. The data from the survey is used to derive new models of thermal comfort using regression analysis. Computer simulation demonstrated that the new set comfort temperatures obtained from created models could significantly increase the operational efficiency of the terminal. Implementing these models would also reduce the operating cost of the KAIA, lower the CO2 emissions and improve the comfort of passengers. More particularly, the results of the research demonstrate the unsuitability of employing generic comfort models and suggest that a more climate-appropriate strategy should be adopted globally. The Gulf Region Countries do not currently have climatic-specific thermal comfort standards nor intensive field studies that would support their development. Moreover, a vast majority of thermal comfort research is focused on Australia, Europe and the USA and some areas of Asia. This thesis offers an integrated system and methodological approach to evaluate, measure, and analyze both environmental and personal variables of thermal comfort as well as verifying the results and virtually testing the implications on occupants and the building. The objective of carrying out such a study is based on the challenge of achieving acceptable levels of occupant thermal comfort while optimizing the energy efficiency of buildings.