The ClearyDoyle approach to delivering quality zero-energy social and affordable housing developments has seen it streamline its delivery process, with local authority clients benefiting from faster and more cost-effective build programmes.

Project photography Michael Conlon

After an impromptu visit by Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien, what started for ClearyDoyle as a social housing project at Greenhill Road, Wicklow, for Wicklow County Council, due to the quality of the build had its designation switched for it to become the local authority’s first Affordable Housing development.

The 36-unit Greenhill Road housing development with a value of €6.6m included several innovative solutions that ClearyDoyle joint managing director John P Doyle says exemplify what ClearyDoyle is achieving by building quality zero-energy homes without resorting to radical approaches to construction or an over-reliance on complex renewable technologies. Schemes are carefully planned, with every detail from infrastructure down to door handles getting gateway sign-off before a sod is turned.

The horseshoe configuration of the Greenhill Road housing development, Wicklow, resulted in no impact from the development on existing seascape views.
Rock broke out and crushed on site was reused for the estate’s common area, with traditional foundations prepared for each house.

John P Doyle explains: “Greenhill Road is one of several recent housing developments that epitomise the ClearyDoyle brand. For each project, we prepare compliance samples for every detail, including wiring, pipework, external wall build-ups, gardens, paving, roads, etc. We also build compliance samples for utility companies. This means that not only can the client give gateway sign-off on everything going into the houses, but utility companies can sign off on key infrastructural elements, which is an enormous boon for projects and ensures everything, including water infrastructure, proceeds smoothly once work starts.”

An A2 BER (37.07m3/hr/m2) rating with NZEB compliance was achieved on all homes.

The brief

The Greenhill Road project comprised the construction of 36 A2-BER-certified two-storey timber frame houses with associated external and site works on a greenfield site at a hillside location overlooking the sea and Wicklow town.

The timber frame houses are nearly zero energy building (NZEB) compliant, with Greenhill Road being one of six housing schemes that ClearyDoyle has completed for Wicklow County Council over the past five years.

The scheme was constructed under a Design & Build contract. Before starting, Wicklow County Council gave an outline design and their specific requirements. ClearyDoyle conducted consultations with local residents to address any concerns they may have, identify ways to lessen the impact of the scheme and works and request suggestions for any ancillary works that would benefit and leave a lasting legacy for the local community.

The first positive outcome from local consultation was the decision to configure the development in a horseshoe form, which resulted in no impact from the development on existing seascape views.

Design works

ClearyDoyle put together a proposal with its in-house design team and presented it to the client and its design team for sign-off. Before sign-off was finalised, ClearyDoyle built compliance sample detailing, which included electrics and pipework, external wall build-ups, gardens, paving and roads. It also built compliance samples for utilities, water infrastructure. In addition to getting gateway sign-off from the client and utility companies, the project team and subcontractors had reference samples, which could be visited at any time during the works.

Each house would achieve an airtightness of around 1 (m3/hr)m2, with slight variation, which is near passive-house standard.


Many of the project team and stakeholders have collaborated on previous projects, which means that the teams have refined the social housing product that ClearyDoyle can deliver and have a consistent performance in terms of sustainability, schedule, cost, and quality of finish.

ClearyDoyle has an experienced team of subcontractors and suppliers, many of whom have worked with it for over five years. It continuously reviews its supply chain and operates under an 80/20 rule, whereby it uses a minimum of 80% long-term subcontractors and a maximum of 20% new or short-term subcontractors on each job. This means it can bring in new, innovative ideas and provide opportunities for emerging subcontractors and suppliers while maintaining an experienced team of subcontractors and suppliers that are use to working alongside each other.

ClearyDoyle prepared compliance samples for every detail, including wiring, pipework, external wall build-ups, gardens, paving, roads and utilities.

Project management plan

With gateway sign-off from the client, ClearyDoyle delivered a digital folder and hard copy files of technical data sheets for every product to be used. All product and materials documentation was supplied, and all stakeholders knew the programme before commencement on site. From there, fortnightly site meetings between relevant stakeholders were used to monitor and control building works.

Works programme

The team started on-site with groundworks and infrastructure, while local timber frame provider Armstrong Timber Engineering manufactured the first housing units under controlled factory conditions.

Rock broke out and crushed on site was reused for the estate’s common area, with traditional foundations prepared for each house.

The first timber-frame housing units arrived at the site six weeks after the team broke ground. These were erected quickly.

Modern Methods Of Construction

The Greenhill Road development is located on a site with idyllic sea and mountain views. As a result, some challenging ground conditions were to be addressed.

ClearyDoyle contracts manager Barry Dalton, who oversaw all site works, explains: “We looked at various modern methods of construction (MMC) and decided on timber frame due to the nature and location of the site. The development is on the east coast on an elevated exposed site. Although picturesque, the site’s coastal location presented challenges as the site is prone to high winds and adverse weather coming directly off the sea.

“To overcome this, we opted for MMC in the form of timber frame, as it is manufactured off-site in controlled conditions and is speedy to install. This enabled us to achieve weathertight buildings during the summer months when the weather was at its calmest.”

Recycling, reuse and waste management

The management of all waste arising from construction activities was in accordance with EU, national and regional waste management policies. ClearyDoyle, acting as the Project Supervisor Construction Stage (PSCS), managed waste and adopted a systematic approach to ensure compliance with all laws and achieve continuous performance improvement.

Waste management objectives were to keep waste production to a minimum, reuse or recycle where practicable and ensure that people and the environment were not compromised by poor waste management practices.

Barry Dalton notes: “To this end, rock that was broke out and crushed on site was reused in applicable areas. Through partnership with our waste management provider and site-based monitoring of our waste management plan, 92.69% by volume of construction waste was removed from the site and diverted from landfill and recycled.”

Grant Engineering
Project management tools

ClearyDoyle uses Procore project management tools as a common data environment to facilitate collaboration, real-time information exchange and reporting on its projects.

The full Procore system was introduced on the Greenhill Road scheme during the programme, and it immediately improved efficiency and kept stakeholders up to date in real-time on project progression.

As tasks were completed, they were noted on the system using an in-phone app. All information is gathered in the same folder and shared with the client and other stakeholders so they could monitor progress in real time. For example, when airtightness testing was completed, results were posted on the system for the client and its design team.

Joint managing director John P Doyle explains: “Before we brought the Procore system online, we had a similar internal system. The Procore system is more user- and site-friendly. It operates from a mobile app, so a laptop is not needed to access it. If something needs to be amended, the app is opened, and a photo is taken and uploaded with the necessary instructions sent to the appropriate person, who then completes the task and resubmits it for sign-off.”

Health & Safety

With a total of 87,444 hours worked on site, there were no incidents, accidents or near misses reported throughout the build, making this a zero-incident project.

Change of designation

While visiting another social housing project completed by ClearyDoyle for Wicklow County Council, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage of Ireland Darragh O’Brien made an impromptu visit to the Greenhill Road site and was hugely impressed by the quality of the houses. Following discussions with the minister’s department, Wicklow County Council changed the designation for Greenhill Road from social to Affordable Homes, making the development its first Affordable Homes development.

While the change of designation was welcomed by ClearyDoyle, it brought additional administrative requirements and resulted in some minor delays to the project.

John P Doyle comments: “This change of designation meant that rather than dealing with one client, we would be dealing with 36 individual house buyers, relevant authorities and Homebond registrations in what was one of the first Affordable Housing schemes to be built in the country and what was the first to be built by Wicklow County Council.

“But the team got on with what had to be done, and we were delighted 36 families got to purchase new homes completed to a very high specification.”

He adds: “ClearyDoyle is committed to the goals of the Housing for All plan, particularly in the south-east, and social and affordable housing is a key part of our business. As an employer with a 60-year track record of building homes in the region, we are committed to delivering as many homes as possible.”

An A2 BER (37.07m3/hr/m2) rating with NZEB compliance was achieved on all homes.


The tender price was €6.45m, with the eventual budget being €6.6m. This was achieved at a time when construction materials inflation, particularly the cost of timber, was at unprecedented levels. Maintaining budgetary control was achieved to a large degree as a result of compliance sampling that was carried out before the team went on site.

Key project achievements

Ultimately, the highlight of this project for Barry Dalton and John P Doyle was delivering quality, A-rated, energy-efficient NZEB homes without taking a radical approach to construction and having no health and safety incidents.

John P Doyle comments: “We were delighted to build Wicklow’s first Affordable Housing scheme, and we have taken the learnings from this scheme to facilitate a smooth transition for first-time home buyers to move into their own homes on schemes we now have on site.

“Greenhill Road is a prime example of how, through working with the client and project team over time, we have refined the construction process and exceeded requirements to meet client needs.

“Under the Design & Build contract, the ClearyDoyle team specified all elements required to achieve the A2 BER rating. We provided the client with compliance samples to ensure they got exactly what they required.”

The turnkey NZEB homes were delivered to new homeowners with operator manuals and instructional videos on how all systems work.

A final word from the client

The 36 turnkey homes are built to exacting contingencies and specifications and exceeded the client’s expectations regarding ClearyDoyle’s interpretation of the brief and innovative use of construction materials.

Mark Devereux, then Senior Executive Engineer, Housing and Corporate Estate, Wicklow County Council, said of the development: “ClearyDoyle’s delivery of Wicklow County Council’s first Affordable Housing scheme at Greenhill Road was both thorough and professional. The site and management teams were well coordinated, and engagement with the Wicklow County Council team was always exemplary. This was notably evident in how ClearyDoyle helped assuage any concerns the adjacent community might have had about the project.

“We were particularly impressed by ClearyDoyle’s use of compliance samples to decide on finishes at the earliest stage possible in the project lifecycle. The quality of the workmanship on the units and the public realm, but, in particular, the attention to detail concerning the homes’ airtightness and energy efficiency was exemplary,” he concluded.

Greenhill Road Project Team

Client: Wicklow County Council

Client Architect: Paul Keogh Architects

Main Contractor: Cleary Doyle

Contactor Architect: Paul Byrne Architects

Quantity Surveyor: Walsh Associates

Civil & Structural Engineer: Matt O Mahony & Associates

M&E Consultant: Malone O’Regan

Consulting Energy Consultant: Malone O Regan

Consulting Assigned Certifier: Paul Keogh Architects

Consulting Engineer: Fallon Design

BER Assessor: Building Envelope Technologies Ltd

Landscape Architect: Green Avenue Landscapes

Timber Frame Manufacturer: Armstrong Timber Engineering

Elemental U-values

An A2 BER (37.07m3/hr/m2) rating with NZEB compliance was achieved on all homes with the following elemental results:

  • Construction: Timber frame with no chimneys and an overall 0.14W/m2K u-value
  • Ground floors: Solid with 215mm Kore EPS Silver insulation with a u-value of 0.12W/m2K
  • Pitched roofs: Insulated on ceiling 400mm Quilt Insulation with a u-value of 0.11 W/m2K
  • Front doors: MJ Ultratech with a u-value of 1.4W/m2K
  • Windows: Triple-glazed argon-filled with a u-value of .7W/m2K
  • Primary space and water heating: Air-to-water Mitsubishi Ecodan heat pump
  • Airtightness: Average permeability of 1.17 (m3/hr)m2.

Project Schedule

Project start date: July 2021

Project completion date: May 2023

Peak site labour: March 2023

Building Energy Rating: A2

Hours worked  Health & Safety Statistics

Hours worked: 87,444

Time incidents: 0

First aid treatments: 0

Near misses: 0

To learn more about ClearyDoyle, visit

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