Historic buildings and sustainable design

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Historic Buildings

Historic admin buildingThe Bornabreenan reservoirs in South County Dublin are a lovely peaceful area to go walking or fishing. While I was there recently, I was pleased to find a delightful cut stone administration building on the grounds. The building dates from the construction of the reservoirs in the 1880’s and it is still used as an administration building today. 


Sustainable design. When we consider sustainable design we may think of modern construction methods and techniques. However this building shows that sustainable building is a very old concept. The benefits of using natural building materials are considerable. I doubt many modern buildings will age as gracefully as this one has after 130 years of use.

Admin Building cut stone
Admin Building cut stone

This building complies with a lot of the modern requirements for sustainable construction which now considers all three phases of a buildings life:

  1. Construction (manufacture of components and erection of building).
  2. Use of the building.
  3. Disposal of the building.

This building is constructed with non-toxic and natural building materials. These require less processing and are less damaging to the environment. They require less maintenance and the building component parts could be easily reused in another building if necessary.

Admin building
Admin building

Obliviously as originally constructed the building would not meet modern energy efficiency standards for heat retention and renewable energy use but the design is robust enough to allow new technologies to be retrofitted quite easily.

Presumably the original project designers/builders could have constructed a cheaper building at the time and improved their cash flow. But instead they invested for the future and created a low maintenance and durable building which has resulted in huge savings over the buildings life. They have also left in place a beautiful monument to their wisdom.

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