A Travellerspoint blog


Fin's Blog

EEBE Exchange Student in Ireland

The project wrapped up on Friday March 16th just in time for us to head to Dublin for Paddy’s Day. It’s hard to believe 3 weeks is over already. It has been a wild ride, and in the end I was very impressed with the results everyone came up with.

The project was to retrofit a standard Irish home to meet the PassivHaus (Passive House) standard. PassivHaus is a German standard that focuses on extreme energy efficiency. What a lot of people don’t know about PassivHaus is that Dr. Wolfgang Feist was inspired to create PassivHaus after viewing a house in Saskatchewan, Canada. Over a quarter century ago Canadian’s built a house so energy efficient that you could heat it with a hair dryer, and then we forgot about it.

Retrofitting our existing buildings is vital to using energy sustainably. Even if every new building were built to the best green standards it would have a small impact on the total building energy consumption because of the amount of buildings that are already built. Projects like this get us thinking about the challenges we are faced with in the existing built environment.

Retrofitting this building all the way to PassivHaus didn’t make financial sense when we crunched the numbers, but some of the strategies that are combined to meet PassivHaus could be employed individually with some success.

I’m ready to go home, but I’ve had an amazing time. Ireland has exceeded my expectations by far, and I will definitely be back some day. I’ve experienced a lot of Irish culture while I was here. I attended my first football game (we call it soccer). I’ve been inside my first castle. I travelled to Belfast in Northern Ireland and visited the troubled areas of West Belfast where the conflicts occurred, and signed my name on the peace wall. I made my way to the Guinness factory and learned how to pour the perfect pint. I even travelled into the middle of rural Ireland to visit an eco-village where residents live more sustainably than anywhere else in Ireland.

So long Ireland, its been grand!

Posted by NSCC Intl 08:55 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Cynthia's Blog

EEBE Exchange Faculty in Ireland

overcast 8 °C

While in Ireland I have noticed differences in construction fire regulations. For example, I have yet to see a sprinkler head at the college, in any hotel room, restaurant or bar. I’ve also noticed that in every hotel room, even in a tiny B&B, each room door has an automatic closer. I stayed at a lavish new hotel in Dublin (those on-line deals are a wonderful thing). We had to use our card key to operate the elevator. One morning I was on the elevator by myself and my key did not work. I was travelling up and down on the elevator because it was being activated by people waiting for the elevator. It would not stop at my floor. So I got off on the 4th floor and planned to walk up to the 5th. When I reached the 5th floor the stairwell door was locked and a sign indicated that it was locked because it is a fire door. I could get into the stairwell but to exit it I had to go to the ground floor and outdoors. I went back into the lobby and it was obvious that having tourists run outdoors to get back into the lobby was a common occurrence. They laughed and said, “Irish fire regulations are different than most”. I said, “So, I can’t walk up to my room?” “That’s right”, she said. Oh well, I now have another excuse to not exercise. I can’t take the stairs. I’ll just have another one of those big Irish breakfasts.

Upon completing this blog, I thought I should speak with the architects here at IT Carlow because being locked in a stairwell did not seem like a logical fire code requirement... and it is not. The hotel locked the doors exiting the stairwell to each of the floors for the same reason we needed a card key to activate the elevator. It is a security measure. I believe that the front desk clerks did not know the difference and that they were told to tell tourists that the exit requirements were due to Irish fire regulations.

While here in Ireland and our students are working on a project to reduce energy consumption in low income housing using passive means. I think the Irish have it right. One of the most obvious ways to reduce the cost for heating is by reducing the set point temperature. Our parents and grandparents understood that too. Turn down the temperature and put on a sweater unless you are in Ireland and then you would put on a jumper.

Cynthia Rogers
Mechanical Engineering Technology Faculty
Waterfront Campus

Posted by NSCC Intl 09:23 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Sarah's Blog

EEBE Exchange Student in Ireland

We all have reasons for travelling. Some are superficial; to escape the cold of winter and procure an enviable tan (not to be found in Ireland), or perhaps to briefly escape the mundane of home and work routine. Others travel for seemingly more thoughtful reasons, to challenge themselves on a mountain peak, or perhaps to learn a foreign language (can be found in Ireland!)... Well at least to ask where the washroom is in it anyway. I suppose I have found that in my travels, a recurring theme would be Education, in whatever facet, and Ireland is no exception.
The groups from NSCC and Holland College have certainly travelled to Ireland, first and foremost, for the purpose of Education as most would define it. Our primary aim being to learn about sustainable building practices. In particular, the Passivhaus Design Standard that has come to the forefront of energy efficient building design in Europe. This has of course been a major component of our trip here, but our education has extended beyond that in many ways, as exploring another country inevitably does. In some of our lectures, we have learned things about the Irish culture and psyche that explain a great deal about Irish society in the present, but reveal even more about Ireland from the past. For example, the significance placed on the pride of home ownership. Ireland has one of the highest rates of home ownership in the European Union, and is considerably high compared to North American standards as well. There are certainly people that rent their homes or apartments, but there is much emphasis placed on the importance of owning your own home, regardless of demographic or income level. Of course, this explains the motivations behind the number of social housing organizations that assist people in achieving this goal (one of which our project is affiliated with), but it also leads one to ask why that mentality exists in the first place. Looking back on the past several centuries of Irish history, it becomes evident quite quickly why land ownership would be of utmost importance to the Irish people, and it is amazing to see how strongly this sentiment still runs. Sometimes learning a simple statistic can say a lot more about a place and its people.
Of course, we’ve learned many things outside of the classroom as well... such as in the kitchen. There you will always find your washing machine, which also happens to be your dryer, which dries clothes about as effectively as a sheep baaa-ing on it, or 3 buttterflies flapping their wings and taking a 20 minute break at 10 minute intervals. In the streets, LOOK BOTH WAYS BEFORE CROSSING. I can’t stress that one enough. And in the grocery stores, no eggs are refrigerated, and apparently they really don’t need to be at all. The space I’ve wasted in the fridge all these years... Of course I’ve learned some truly wonderful things as well. I’ve learned that the grass really is greener here in a way that can’t be described, and that incredible, diverse music is waiting to be heard in every pub in every small town, and that the rugged beauty of a place can astound you in the most unexpected ways. Education in Ireland so far has been grand....

Sarah Mitchell
Construction Management Student
Waterfront Campus

Posted by NSCC Intl 08:52 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Josh's Blog

EEBE Exchange Student in Ireland

Two weeks into our international exchange and it feels like I’ve been away from home for months. I’ve already experienced more in my time here than I had ever imagined, and there’s still an entire week left that’ll be capped off with St Patrick’s Day in Dublin. The whole whirlwind tour started off with a pint of Guinness when we landed… ‘when in Rome’…and has been a continual cultural and educational experience.
So far I’ve been on a magical mystery bus tour around the rural Irish countryside to see ancient ruins and historic buildings, as well as an impromptu weekend road trip through the scenic fishing villages and impressive mountain ranges of southern Ireland. I’ve cheered for Ireland at an international soccer match in Dublin and caught Matt Anderson play a show at a pub in the middle of nowhere that holds around 30 people (one of the most powerful shows I’ve ever been a part of). I’ve been on a riveting tour of Belfast in the back of a black cab and spotted a herd of red deer on a hike through the national park. I’ve biked the streets of Groningen in the Netherlands where bikes rule the streets and taken a rickshaw through the streets of Amsterdam to the Van Gogh museum. I’ve visited more towns, castles, cathedrals, and pubs than I can recall, but the beauty of the countryside and the cordiality of the people has left the biggest impact on me.
Aside from the many adventures, we’ve also come together to participate in a great research project. I’ve been working with people studying programs very different from my own. They’ve come from NSCC in Nova Scotia, Holland College in PEI, and IT Carlow in Ireland. It’s been a great experience to see the different methods and approaches that we all take to the project but the real benefit has been the purpose of the project. We’ve been tasked with creating a retrofit design for a house in order to make it more energy efficient. This duplex home provides some means of independence for people who require assisted living and is owned by a volunteer housing association. Participating in a project like this that may have a positive impact on someone’s life always makes it much easier to get motivated for doing the work.
This exchange has been a great experience. I’ve made a lot of new friends and I have yet to be disappointed with the cultural experience. So with 7 days to go, the project and the adventures continue on….

Josh Murray
Electrical Engineering Technology Student
Waterfront Campus

Posted by NSCC Intl 08:48 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Anna's Blog

EEBE exchange student in Ireland


At the end of our first week at IT Carlow we were taken to Dublin for a tour of the Eircom (Tele-communications) building. First off, I want to say that Eircom has an amazing building and concept of what companies should doing. They have no fire suppression in most of the building; they have mostly passive ventilation that they call a triple glazed curtain, which is like a little pocket for air to flow upward into and out of the building! The way the building approaches the way a company is run is fantastic, no one person has their own office. All the work areas have common desks that anyone can use. Their pass will tell any desk or printer in the place that it is them would is trying to access their account, no one pays cash or card for lunch; they just use their pass as well. The building can process 10 people through for lunch with their pass before 3 people can pay with cash or card. Efficient is the name of their game.

Anna Keys
Construction Management Student
Waterfront Campus

Posted by NSCC Intl 06:39 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

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