Deep Energy Retrofit, Decarbonisation and BER Upgrades

Dublin City University

Project Team

Main Contractor & PSCS
McKeon Group
QS and Design Team Project Manager
Andrew P. Nugent & Associates
Measurement and Verification Specialist
Codex Energy Consultants Ltd
Collins Maher Martin Architects
Structural Engineers
Hanley Pepper Consulting Engineers
PowerTherm Solutions
Fire Consultant
Ryan and Associates
Lean Electrical & Engineering
Titan Roofing Ltd


McKeon Group completed a significant project for Dublin City University (DCU)'s Marconi Building. As Project Supervisor Construction Stage (PSCS), our team worked tirelessly to deliver this project, consisting of a comprehensive energy upgrade, decarbonisation mesaures, and deep energy retrofit of the building.

A deep energy retrofit with a low-temperature air source heat pump forms part of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and Higher Education Authority (HEA) Energy Efficiency and Decarbonisation Pathfinder Programme (EEDPP), which aims to identify and validate the optimum retrofit pathways for the diverse range of buildings in the higher education sector. The work completed at the Marconi Building was a HEA Retrofit Pathway 1 project.

The Task

DCU seeks to embed sustainability at the core of the university, and one of the ways it is choosing to demonstrate this commitment is by implementing energy upgrades in all campus buildings.

One such building is DCU's Marconi Building, home of the DCU Sciences and Engineering Faculty. This building was initially completed in 1991, with brick and block cladding alongside reinforced concrete floor and roof slabs. These features are typical of many higher education buildings designed before the 1991 Building Regulations.

This project was centred on completing a full deep energy retrofit at the Marconi Building to futureproof the structure and ensure compliance with DCU's sustainability standards. The project also involved upgrading the BER from an E1 to a B3 minimum standard through a series of strategic interventions.

Our team understood this task would require dedication, expertise and precise coordination to complete the requested work while allowing the bustling university campus to continue normal operations.

The Solution

Our approach to DCU's requirements involved implementing various measures to improve energy efficiency and sustainability throughout the building.

We installed a low-temperature ASHP working in a bivalent arrangement parallel to the two existing gas boilers to optimise the space heating system.

Additionally, we upgraded the Air Handling Units (AHUs) to enhance their performance and energy efficiency, resulting in better air circulation and improved thermal comfort for occupants.

Improving insulation was an essential aspect of our retrofit strategy. We insulated the roof to minimise heat loss through the building envelope. Additionally, we implemented pumped cavity insulation and airtightness measures, further enhancing the building's thermal performance and reducing energy consumption.

The installation of lighting controls played a crucial role in reducing energy consumption. By implementing advanced Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI) protocol control systems and occupancy detection, we enabled precise regulation of lighting levels via daylight dimming and occupancy detection, ensuring that lights are only used when necessary. We also replaced conventional light fittings with energy-efficient LED lighting, which not only reduces electricity consumption but also provides superior lighting quality and longevity.

To enhance the building's energy performance further, we introduced an exhaust air heat pump (EAHP) for the hot water system (DWH), which uses tempered air from the toilet air extraction. Additionally, we incorporated a backup gas-fired calorifier to supplement the EAHP during peak demand periods, ensuring a consistent and reliable hot water supply throughout the building.

A new Motor Control Centre (MCC) and BMS system were installed to control all new mechanical plants and equipment. We used a new generation ABB CBXi/FBXi family of BACnet® Controllers for the BMS system, which provided the estate's team with a modern Web-based BMS front end and ensured the control systems were futureproofed.

Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRVs) were installed on all radiators to achieve a more balanced and efficient heating system. These valves enable individual temperature control for each room, allowing occupants to adjust the heat output according to their preferences, resulting in increased comfort and reduced energy waste.

To reduce the building's reliance on grid power, we installed 43.5 kWp solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on the building's roof. These panels convert sunlight into electricity, supplementing DCU's energy needs.

The Results

The comprehensive energy upgrade and deep energy retrofit undertaken at the Dublin City University (DCU) Marconi Building is a testament to the power of sustainable construction practices and strategic retrofit interventions.

Through meticulous planning, dedication, and expertise, McKeon Group successfully transformed the Marconi Building into a beacon of decarbonisation, energy efficiency and sustainability.

The implemented measures, ranging from installing low-temperature air source heat pumps to incorporating advanced lighting controls and solar photovoltaic panels, have significantly reduced energy consumption and minimised carbon emissions. The meticulous approach to insulation, ventilation enhancement, and heating system optimisation has not only improved thermal comfort for occupants but also futureproofed the structure to align with DCU's sustainability standards.

Crucially, the data collected for Measurement and Verification (M&V) purposes underscores the tangible impact of these interventions. With a staggering reduction in energy consumption by 400,417 kWh and carbon emissions by 94,888 kgCO2, the Marconi Building is a model for sustainable retrofitting initiatives in the higher education sector.

These remarkable results validate the effectiveness of deep energy retrofit and decarbonisation strategies and reaffirm McKeon Group's commitment to delivering projects of the highest standard. As sustainability continues gaining prominence in the construction industry, the Marconi Building is a shining example of how buildings can be transformed into sustainable, energy-efficient assets.

McKeon Group

With over 70 years in the business, managing construction projects to completion is our craft. We deliver projects to the highest standard with an emphasis on safety, integrity, and quality. If you have a construction project you would like to undertake, get in touch today.

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