|dc.description.abstract||Research was carried out into the often conflicting concepts of thermal comfort, conservation of artefacts and preservation of the 57 active cathedral buildings on the island of Ireland. Whilst the use to which these buildings are put is, uniquely, largely unchanged over the centuries, namely the holding of religious services, the comfort which people expect when using the buildings has changed substantially. Making the internal environment comfortable for people to be in, often means that the internal temperature and relative humidity levels, are such as to be actually damaging to the artefacts and contents of the building and to the buildings themselves. If temperature and relative humidity levels are set at a level which protects the buildings and their contents this often results in the people inside the buildings, in Ireland, feeling uncomfortably cold. The need for thermal comfort and the need to conserve and preserve the buildings and their contents cannot be reconciled and compromise must be reached if the buildings are to remain relevant and used whilst at the same time be preserved for the enjoyment and enlightenment of future generations. There is also an overall requirement to make these buildings and those similar to them to be as environmentally sustainable as possible without destroying their character or the important place which they hold in the history of Ireland. There is also the obvious imperative for the owners of these buildings and indeed for all buildings, to reduce their green-house gas emissions and carbon footprint.
A body of research exists in this area of conflict for heritage type buildings, including churches, in both the United Kingdom and continental Europe. However, a review showed that similar research had not been carried out in Ireland, where a number of factors concerning these buildings are unique, such as history, climate, size of the buildings, the number of the buildings and the artefacts contained within them. Unusually cathedrals in Ireland were largely built for purpose and not as status symbols for their sponsors and a relatively large number were built within a short period. By considering cathedrals in Ireland rather than the almost 4,000 churches, it was possible to place realistic limitations around the research whilst at the same time achieving the academic objectives. Much of the research which applies to cathedrals in Ireland will also apply to churches and similar heritage type buildings which contain large internal, undivided, spaces.
The research was divided into three principal phases. Phase one was to visit all of the 57 actively used cathedrals in Ireland in order to discover as much relevant information about them as possible. These visits, during which a comprehensive questionnaire was answered, provided information about their locations, method of construction, usage, heating systems,
numbers using the buildings and other facts. For a variety of reasons which are discussed, not all of the desired information was known or available for each building.
Phase two involved monitoring a representative sample of 25 cathedrals whereby the internal and external temperature and relative humidity were recorded for at least a month during the heating season. In addition, three cathedrals were monitored when the heating was off, to determine the internal response time to external changes in the environment during both the winter and summer months. Over 2.4m readings were taken so that it was possible to compare and contrast the various cathedrals and their differing uses and heating solutions.
Phase three comprised an analysis of the results of the readings . These are complex buildings in terms of their construction, size, usage and their environmental envelope but often require only simple solutions to provide for their thermal comfort, conservation and preservation needs.
It was ultimately shown that there is probably no one solution which will provide the appropriate compromise between the various demands made on the buildings. Whilst the core purpose of these buildings has not changed over the centuries, that is to provide religious services, there have been additional uses to which the buildings are put, especially in recent years. This change of use of these buildings may require a more flexible solution to the heating issue, with perhaps more than one type of heating system required to be installed to cope with the varying and changing environment in the which these buildings now find themselves. Chapter 6 sets out some suggested flexible solutions.
All of the data gathered from both he questionnaires and from the data logging was new and for the first time 25 Irish cathedrals have a more accurate picture of the internal environment inside the buildings. Due to the extensive nature of the data collected, even if incomplete in places, it is felt that this data can be claimed to represent all of the cathedrals in Ireland. The findings of the research showed that there are serious management short comings in the way in which the cathedral heating systems are being run operated, for a variety of reasons. There are also deficiencies in financial reporting, collective purchasing and staff knowledge and training all of which provide opportunities for the owners of these buildings. It was also shown that almost none of the cathedrals meet current standards of thermal comfort. This lack of knowledge as well as providing opportunities for the owners of the cathedrals added significantly to the body of knowledge about Irish cathedrals.||en