Image Image Image Image Image




Do cities need more green roofs?

  • By Cooney Architects

We came across this video (by NPR) and thought it showed great vision of what could be possible – the function of green roofs and the relationship between green roofs and cities.



A case study of a conservation led, energy retrofit of a historic building by Frank Cooney

  • By Cooney Architects

Frank Cooney gave a presentation on ‘A case study of a conservation led, energy retrofit of a historic building’ at the Co-operative Housing Ireland talk in 2016.

About Co-operative Housing Ireland:

Co-operative Housing Ireland is Ireland’s national federation for the cooperative housing sector. Since its foundation in 1973 co-operative housing has:
• Supported the provision of approximately 5,000 homes across a mix of tenures,
• Taken responsibility for the ongoing management of 2,000 homes available at affordable rents,
• Promoted the development of locally affiliated co-operative societies across Ireland,
• Provided wider community development opportunities such as Childcare Services.



Please download presentation slides Ecological building systems.compressed(1)



Building Regulations-Technical Guidance Document: Part L, 2011 Conservation of Fuel & Energy – Dwellings by Frank Cooney

  • By Cooney Architects

Frank Cooney gave a presentation on ‘Building Regulations-Technical Guidance Document: Part L, 2011 Conservation of Fuel & Energy – Dwellings’ in at the RIAI SKILLNET CPD ROAD SHOW: PART L 2011 in Dublin, Cork and Galway.

Please download presentation slides

Cooney Architects Part L PP

Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 11.54.51



The Challenge of Retro-fitting Public Buildings…Why Retrofit? by Frank Cooney

  • By Cooney Architects

Frank Cooney gave a presentation on ‘The Challenge of Retro-fitting Public Buildings…Why Retrofit?’  in CMG Retro-fitting Conference 2012.

Please download presentation slides 2012-CMG-Final

Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 11.50.29



4 Important Things to Consider When Designing Streets For People, Not Just Cars

  • By Cooney Architects

Published in Archdaily on 9:30 – 17 March, 2017 by 

Perkins+Will’s proposed plan for Mission Rock in San Francisco. Image © Steelblue/Perkins+Will/San Francisco Giants

  • Go to any medieval European city and you will see what streets looked like before the advent of the car: lovely, small narrow lanes, intimate, and undisputedly human-scale. We have very few cities in the US where you can find streets like this. For the most part what you see is streets that have been designed with the car in mind—at a large scale for a fast speed. In my native San Francisco, we are making the streets safer for walking and biking by widening sidewalks, turning car lanes into bike lanes, and slowing down the cars. We are working with the streets we have; a typical San Francisco street is anywhere from 60 to 80 feet (18 to 24 meters) wide, as compared with a medieval, pre-car street which is more like 10 to 20 feet (3 to 6 meters) wide.

    As an urban designer, I work on lots of projects where we take large parcels of land and subdivide them into blocks by introducing new streets. These new streets are a rare opportunity to take a fresh look at the kinds of car-oriented roads that we are used to, and instead try to design streets that prioritize the safety and comfort of pedestrians. These projects give us a chance to design streets that are just for people. Imagine that we made these people-only streets into narrow, medieval-style lanes that are intimate and human-scaled. But even as we try to design streets that might not ever see a single car, we find that the modern street design has become so much more than just places for walking or driving. There are therefore a number of things for socially-minded designers to consider, beyond the commonly talked about pedestrian-car dichotomy.

    First, the street is where utilities go

    Ask any civil engineer and they will tell you a street is a highly engineered easement filled with a variety of pipes, connectors, backflow preventers, and other feats of modern science bringing us water, energy, and communication. Streets provide a linear system for organizing this network of utilities both horizontally (there are required distances between different kinds of utilities) and vertically (water—in all its forms—needs to flow downhill, even in seemingly flat streets). What is more, there are established, well-tested conventions for how to design these systems so that they operate every day without us even noticing. Our reimagined, car-less street, in whatever form it takes, needs to manage the way we are connected into this vascular, subterranean system.

    With new technologies, we are finding efficient ways to manage some of these utilities with less reliance on the grid. For example, there are now a handful of buildings that treat and reuse their own sewage. This “blackwater” is treated and the liquids are used for flushing and irrigation, while the solids are used by bio-digesters for energy to help power buildings. We can go even further and connect a few of these high performing buildings together into eco-districts, and find that the amount of utilities that we need to accommodate in the streets might eventually decrease.

    Perkins+Will's proposed plan for Mission Rock in San Francisco. Image © Steelblue/Perkins+Will/San Francisco Giants

    Perkins+Will’s proposed plan for Mission Rock in San Francisco. Image © Steelblue/Perkins+Will/San Francisco Giants


    Second, the street is a drainage system

    Get your civil engineer together with your landscape architect and you will begin to understand the demands on streets for handling stormwater. In fact, you will learn that from their perspective, the principle purpose of a curb is not to separate pedestrians safely from cars, but to control flooding. Curb heights are set relative to the slope of a street and the size of the storm drain to prevent flooded sidewalks and buildings.

    However, in some ways this is a self-made challenge. An impermeable street and gutter actually stops water from soaking into the ground and forces it to move faster and at greater volumes across the surface. We know that permeable paving works much better to alleviate flooding, and reducing areas of paved surfaces and increasing planted areas is even more effective. Many cities are retrofitting their streets with both permeable surfaces and raingardens to help alleviate this problem. By designing our streets to handle water in a more holistic way, with natural drainage and infiltration, we can start to peel away the curbs and see signs of plant life moving back into our new street section.

    © Perkins+Will

    © Perkins+Will


    Which leads to this next point: a street is an ecosystem

    In a city with an urban grid, streets take up as much as 30 percent of the total area of the city, which represents a significant amount of land in the public realm. So it should be no surprise that streets end up being where we find much of the biomass that is found in cities, in the form of street trees and sidewalk plantings. Beautiful old streets mostly have one thing in common: beautiful old trees. Large, healthy, mature trees can make for amazingly lovable streets, even if the roads and sidewalks are nothing special. Case in point: Saint Charles Avenue in New Orleans has some of the most impressive potholes and impassable sidewalks in the city, but its arching canopy of centuries-old oak and fig trees firmly cements it into visitors’ memories as one of the most beautiful streets in the city.

    But trees can also perform in ways beyond aesthetics, to act as habitat for wildlife in the city. Two great examples of this are the Pollinator Pathway in Seattle and the tiger swallowtail butterfly rookery along San Francisco’s Market Street. Landscape architects typically select street trees for their durability, height, and canopy size, but increasingly they are selecting for their contribution to a larger ecosystem. Given that street trees follow the connected network of streets, by default they can create a rich, connected network for the fauna that rely on them as well, linking from park to park across a city.

    The good news is that street trees are usually selected, installed, and maintained by a single city agency, which means that adding ecological performance to the species selection criteria could be quite an effective way to implement such wildlife corridors on a larger scale, and converting streetsinto ecological corridors benefiting all critters… humans included.

    Perkins+Will's Warm Springs Community Plan in Fremont, California. Image © Perkins+Will

    Perkins+Will’s Warm Springs Community Plan in Fremont, California. Image © Perkins+Will


    Finally, of course, a street is a public right of way

    In other words, a street is publicly owned land, which the public has the right to occupy. In a democratic country, the streets are a place where people come together to be seen as a group, to stand up and be counted. We are seeing the importance of this fact in cities all over the country (indeed, the world) where people are once more taking to the streets to find their voice; New York Mayor Bill De Blasio recently said that protest is one of the important functions of New York City’s streets. Even though at times this may conflict with other functions, such as moving traffic easily, it remains a critical and fundamental purpose of a city’s streets.

    What is more, in every country, everywhere, the streets are the place where public life is lived every day. From Algiers to Zurich, streets are filled with people doing everyday things like chatting with their neighbors, hanging laundry, watering flowers, buying food, and socializing their children. If we are to rethink the idea of the street, we would need to find a way to ensure this vitality of public life has space, in all its forms, and in all its public-ness.

    © Perkins+Will

    © Perkins+Will


    When drawing a street on a plan, you start with a centerline and offset it on two sides. It is quite literally a line connecting two places with a certain width. This width is almost always determined by an engineer who is trying to match an algorithm for how many lanes are needed for the cars that will drive down this street, and how many utilities will need to comfortably fit here. Instead, we should think about streets and all their various uses—as places for gathering, finding our way, living more healthfully, with nature, and with each other… and build from there.

    Kristen Hall is a senior urban designer and planner at Perkins+Will in San Francisco. She specializes in complex urban infill projects.

     For original article please click this link:




Regenerative Organics: Drawing a Line in the Soil

  • By Cooney Architects

Published in LinkedIn on President and CEO of Patagonia

In recent years, we’ve seen a boom in production and sales of organic foods worldwide. The global organic food market is expected to grow by 16 percent between 2015 and 2020, a faster rate than conventionally-grown foods.

This seems like good news—but in truth, organic farming makes up just a tiny fraction of the global agriculture system controlled by a few giant corporations generating enormous profits. And it’s about to get worse: If current deals in the works make it past European and U.S. regulators, three companies—Bayer, DowDupont and ChemChina—will own two-thirds of the world’s seeds and pesticides.

This unfortunate reality threatens to hold us hostage for decades as conventional agriculture continues to ravage our planet: gobbling up immense fossil fuels for production and shipping, flooding the earth with toxic synthetic pesticides and deadening our soil’s biodiversity with GMO seeds (along with the taste of our food). Conventional agriculture also generates a quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions now baking our atmosphere.

And food is just part of the picture. Consider cotton, a fiber used to make a large majority of our clothing globally: just one percent is grown organically. That figure has stayed mostly stagnant since at least 1996, the year Patagonia started sourcing 100 percent organic cotton. It’s especially appalling considering 16 percent of all pesticides used worldwide are used to grow conventional cotton—exposure to which has been linked to higher rates of cancer and other diseases. Conventional GMO farming practices also reduce soil fertility and biodiversity, require more water and large amounts of herbicides, alter the nutritional content of our food, and result in toxic runoff that pollutes our rivers, lakes and oceans.

Thankfully, the status quo isn’t our only option. Regenerative organic agriculture includes any agricultural practice that increases soil organic matter from baseline levels over time, provides long-term economic stability for farmers and ranchers, and creates resilient ecosystems and communities. Put simply, this approach presents an opportunity to reclaim our farming system on behalf of the planet and human health—while fulfilling the obvious need to feed and clothe billions of people around the world. We can produce what we need and revitalize soil at the same time, thereby sequestering carbon currently polluting the atmosphere and warming our planet.

The good news: a small but growing list of organizations with good intentions have embraced regenerative organics in recent years. In particular, this approach (and terminology) has been championed by groups like the Rodale Institute and Regeneration International, and as a result, some businesses have begun taking serious interest. At Patagonia, our interest and knowledge has grown over many years: We began rebuilding our natural fiber supply chains to include organic practices 25 years ago, starting with cotton; more recently, we’ve been prioritizing regenerative practices for apparel and with our food business, Patagonia Provisions.

The bad news: A growing number of corporations, researchers, journalists and practitioners have also started using the term “regenerative”—as well as “restorative,” “sustainable,” “ethical,” and others—almost interchangeably, without any clear sense of what we’re talking about. Even worse, we’re increasingly seeing “sustainable” claims combined with conventional (non-organic) farming, which defeats the purpose entirely. How can you rebuild soil ecosystems while simultaneously pumping the soil with pesticides and herbicides?

We shouldn’t tolerate the watering down of agricultural practices that hold potential for enormous benefit to our suffering planet. The risks are simply too great. Meaningless terms with little or no concrete definition inundate consumers at every turn (even the label “organic” can be slippery), causing confusion at best. And some existing standards don’t go far enough. For example, many companies have signed onto the Better Cotton Initiative—a program that includes some important environmental and social provisions but ultimately still perpetuates some harmful conventional practices, including use of synthetic pesticides and GMO seeds.

Use of the term “regenerative organic” reflects firm commitments from farmers that ensure they don’t use GMO seeds or synthetic pesticides, period. In addition, they must take a holistic and locally tailored approach to land management in order to rebuild soil ecosystems that, when healthy, actually absorbs carbon from our atmosphere and help cool our planet.

The direct benefits of regenerative organic agriculture are extraordinary: better food and higher-quality fibers, as well as an effective means to reduce greenhouse gases—something we sorely need as we face environmental catastrophe. In fact, this may be the best shot we’ve got at moving the needle on climate change. The numbers speak for themselves: According to The Carbon Underground, each restored hectare of farmland results in an annual drawdown of three tons of carbon. With five billion hectares of farmland globally, restoration would bring a reduction of 15 billion tons of carbon; over a 20-year trajectory, we could reduce atmospheric carbon to pre-industrial levels, putting us on track for the timeline highlighted by the United Nations and the COP21 agreements made in Paris in 2015.

The side benefits include less pollution, more biodiversity, fewer threats to wildlife, healthier rivers, significantly reduced risk to public health from environmentally linked cancers and respiratory diseases, and much more.

Contrary to messages sent by big agriculture interests, regenerative organic agriculture can also meet our need to feed a growing global population more sustainably than our current system. Conventional agriculture is more productive, but only in the short run. Yields from regenerative organic food crops, often lower at first (especially in already chemically degraded soil) then improve as the soil’s micronutrients come back to health. Over time, organic outperforms conventional. There are exceptions: Organic cotton, for instance, may have a lower yield than conventional, though its benefits in soil (and farmworker) health outweigh the drawbacks.

The bottom line: If we aim to use agriculture as a tool not only to feed millions but also to help solve the environmental crisis—and we must, if we hope to survive—we need to get specific. Businesses and farmers should promote a concrete definition of regenerative organic agriculture, such as that created by Rodale, so businesses and consumers alike can make decisions with confidence and move forward together to change our current system.

When Patagonia first developed our organic cotton supply chain in the mid-1990s, we knew organic was just one step in a long journey to protect the planet and human health through agriculture. Since then, we’ve learned a lot and now we’re actively working to integrate regenerative organic agriculture into our business. Our growing food business, Patagonia Provisions, requires every product reflect a commitment to regenerative soil or sustainable fishing practices. Through our in-house venture fund, Tin Shed Ventures, we make investments in new regenerative enterprises (and other efforts to reduce or eliminate the use of water or petroleum).

We know regenerative organic agriculture isn’t an easy fix. Indeed, regenerative organic practices require closer attention to local soil and climate, the development of more specifically acclimated hybrids, and a more holistic approach to land use and community planning. But with the planet at a dangerous precipice, regenerative organic agriculture represents a vital opportunity not only to reduce human impact on the environment, but, in fact, to begin reversing the enormous damage we’ve already caused.

Business leaders must bring courage and leadership to meet this challenge. If we can break with the status quo meaningfully, engage with others to build awareness and new commitments to build products using regenerative organic agriculture (and refuse to accept greenwashing or cheaper alternatives), we can create real change on a big scale.

We will continue to update you on our own work to learn more about and incorporate regenerative organic practices into Patagonia’s supply chain—and work collaboratively with other companies and organizations to further this important work.

For a 60-second look at how regenerative organic agriculture works, check out Dirt Cheap. For a deeper dive, take a look at Unbroken Ground, a recently-released 25-minute film by Chris Malloy on the wonderful work of four different groups to help create higher-quality food that is far more nutritious and delicious than anything our worn-out industrial farms can produce.



For original article please click this link:



Moyer Farmhouse by Frank Cooney

  • By Cooney Architects

Frank Cooney speaks about his experience refurbishing an existing semi derelict 19th century house in Moyer, Co Cavan to achieve both A2 energy rating and International Passivhaus standard.  Cultivate & ÉASCA Members | Cultivate Centre

Please download presentation slides Cultivate

Screen Shot 2017-02-27 at 09.45.57



The Green Book Volume 21 – the World’s only international work of reference on environmental best practice projects

  • By Cooney Architects

The Green Book is the world’s only international work of reference on environmental best practice. It is published by The Green Organisation in tribute to the environmental endeavours and generosity of our Green World Ambassadors. These are the companies, councils and communities who have won Green Apple Awards for their environmental efforts, and who have taken their commitment to the next level by helping others to help the environment.  We are proud to share that Cooney Architects project, ‘Leitrim Innovation & Growth Centre’, has been featured in the book.

See attached link for full version








Community Housing Scheme in James Street almost complete!

  • By Cooney Architects

Community Housing Scheme in James Street almost complete!