Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Masters of Science (Research)




Sustainability is more than just a “buzz word” or meaningless jargon; it is what is needed for survival due to the unsustainability of humanity in recent centuries. Sustainable buildings are only one element of the solution, but a very large one in terms of the amount of problems created socially, economically and environmentally by buildings. Humans now spend more and more time in buildings, most of their days in many cases, and so the regulation and policy mechanisms surrounding buildings are critical to the success of sustainability. The Irish Technical Guidance Documents (TGDs), are a set of twelve documents which provide guidance on how to construct buildings in accordance with the building regulations. These are used on a daily basis, in all corners of the construction sector. The documents were originally created in 1991, and have been revised individually at intervals since then. When the subject of sustainability is raised in conjunction with the TGDs, the discussion inevitably turns to Part L which deals with the conservation of fuel and energy in buildings, however, sustainability is about so much more than that, and that is why this research looks beyond Part L, at the entire set of documents.

The themes of the research became apparent in the early stages, the three main themes being, philosophy, administration, and policy. When analysing their interaction with the case study, and information from the sources, sub themes began to emerge, in the case of philosophy, it is logical to use the three pillars of sustainability, social, economic, and environmental. For administration and policy, the sub-themes are, global international, (the United Nations), geographic regional, (Europe), and National (Ireland). As the research progresses, reoccurring themes also emerge within the practice element of the case study analysis, these ultimately from the seven point structure of the case study analysis; communication, compliance, education, resources, quality, incentives and integration.

The research begins with a review of the literature available, from the big names in sustainability such as Rachel Carson, Murray Bookchin, Herman Daly, Arne Naess and Karl Henrick Robert, to commentary and publications of the United Nations, European Union, Irish Government and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. The methodology of the research is then outlined. This is qualitative research, where the case study, the TGDs, is a process based sample, using humanistic analysis to determine its causal relationship with sustainability, and is a convenience, quota and dimensional non-probability sample. In addition to literary sources, such as published works, and official publications, electronic and audio visual sources are also used. For the interactive stage of the research interviews with persons in the Irish eonstruetion seetor, and attendanee and eonferenees and presentations are the primary sources, yielding great insight into the subject matter. Finally all the collated and analysed data is presented in a format which ends this document, but lays the foundations for future work on a full and comprehensive overhaul of the TGDs. Therefore the conclusions chapter is laid out in a seven step process towards sustainability for the TGDs.

There is a relatively high standard of building regulations, and TGDs in Ireland, although it does not seem to equate to high levels of compliance and high quality workmanship and design. Much progress towards sustainability has been made with the changes to Part L, however, this is only a small fraction of what it is to be sustainable. This research finds the TGDs to be structurally sound, but in need of a major overhaul to fully incorporate sustainability, by revising their scope, and introducing a theoretical element.

Access Level