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Christopher Shiell

PhD Researcher
Dept. of Civil, Structural & Environmental Engineering



The thermo-hygrometric environment in cathedrals in Ireland

Keywords: heating; energy; thermal comfort; cathedrals; Ireland.


The 57 active cathedrals in Ireland are unique structures, many of them have stood for hundreds of years and they encapsulate the history of the cities and towns where they are situated as well as of the country itself. Many would have had no heating installed when they were built but increasing demand for ever higher levels of thermal comfort for those using the buildings, has meant that all of these buildings now have heating systems installed, sometimes very intrusively to the building fabric.

There will always be conflict between thermal comfort levels and the conservation of the buildings and the preservation of the artefacts held within them and a compromise must be reached to ensure that the buildings and their contents are protected as much as possible, whilst at the same time ensuring that the buildings remain relevant and used.  The object of this research is to carry out on site surveys of all of the cathedrals, to monitor the internal environment of a large number of them and to analyse the results to see how these buildings perform against best practice for these types of buildings, which by their nature contain large open undivided spaces, with porous building envelopes and to see if suggestions can be made to improve the energy performance of the buildings, without damaging the structures.