UCC / Tyndall National Institute have invested greatly in its building’s energy efficiency. As a result, they have won the SEAI Award for Energy in Buildings 2021.


  • A

    rating BER achieved
  • 86%

    energy savings on lighting
  • LED

    lighting throughout

Key Achievements

Successful upgrade of a protected structure

Electrical and heat usage is monitored and controlled in real time 

Air quality is monitored by CO2 and VOC sensors

The project

Tyndall National Institute is a leading European research centre in integrated ICT (Information and Communications Technology) hardware and systems. It is part of University College Cork’s (UCC) campus. The University has approximately 21,000 students and 3,000 staff.

The Phase 3 building, constructed in 1903, is part of the Lee Maltings facility and steeped in the industrial heritage of Cork. The university wanted to upgrade its energy performance while conserving its history as it’s a protected structure.

“UCC and Tyndall are committed to carrying out energy efficient and sustainable conservation of our heritage buildings for future generations”, says Tim Cronin, Capital Projects Officer, UCC.

With help from SEAI, the University carried out a project that looked at the EE design of the building. The brief was to optimise the building’s capacity while also transforming its dark spaces into highly sustainable, light filled environments, which promote the University’s core values of wellness and sustainability and will encourage scientific interaction.

The project carried out extensive restoration of the building’s envelope to future-proof the structure and obtain the maximum energy efficiency. The addition of smart lighting, demand-based control systems and mixed mode natural ventilation helped it achieve an A rating BER certificate.

Some of the measures carried out were:

  • Complete repointing of the brick facade.
  • Complete restoration of the roof and Bradford Cowl.
  • Complete excavation of the ground floor to install insulation.
  • Installation of a breathable systems to all external walls to protect and insulate.
  • Complete renovation of all mechanical and electrical services.
  • Insulation of roof and cowl line.
  • Improved air tightness of building’s envelope.

Now all the lighting is LED and the system uses smart IoT sensors to measure individual lights’ fixtures, power, temperature, occupancy and daylight harvesting. The team monitor their electrical and heat usage in real time and with this and the heat maps from the lighting system, “we are able to fine tune the efficiency of the building”, says Tim.

Air quality is monitored by both CO2 and VOC (volatile organic compounds are human-made chemicals) sensors, which ensure the feeling of fresh air throughout the building. Natural ventilation is the primary source of ventilation for the building with high efficiency heat recovery units for the times where natural ventilation is not possible.

A weather station monitors the outside air temperature and humidity and can enable a process of night purging to pre-cool the building’s envelope using the naturally cooler nighttime air in anticipation for occupancy in the morning.

What's next?

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the team was unable to show the final building to the public. “We would envisage that when allowed it would be a particular building of interest because of the fact it achieved an A rating without the use of renewables,” says Tim Cronin, Capital Projects Officer, UCC.

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2021 SEAI Energy Awards

A total of ten awards were presented to individuals, businesses, communities, and public sector organisations in recognition of their commitment and dedication to sustainable energy and climate action.

The online awards ceremony was hosted by broadcast journalist, Andrea Gilligan, who was joined by Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan T.D. and Duncan Stewart, the winner of the Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Energy Award.

See our 2021 winners