Article by Vassilis Duros, Building Physicist, NKUA. 5 mins read
Deep building renovations are now required to satisfy the European Union’s high energy and low carbon emission efficiency standards as well as to boost the economic recovery of Europe after the pandemic outbreak. To achieve this twofold goal of increased energy efficiency and economic growth, the European Commission (EC) communicated the policy “A Renovation Wave for Europe – Greening our Buildings, Creating Jobs, and Improving Lives” in 2020. According to this, in the next ten years, EC plans to double annual energy renovation rates. These improvements in the building stock not only will help Europe to realize the vision of decarbonization but will also improve the quality of life for individuals who live in and use the buildings, as well as create a lot of new green jobs in the construction industry.
Buildings of high societal interest such as schools deliver an important message to the public and deep energy retrofits in these buildings should be prioritized in this process. However, renovating educational buildings needs to address a wide range of technical, seasonal, comfort, health, social & circularity aspects that require high levels of experience & training. As a result, in order to avoid deficiencies in the construction phase caused by shortcomings of the design phase and minimize the performance gap, capacity-building activities for various target groups involved in the renovation chain are required.
To meet these challenges and opportunities, National & Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA) joins forces with Hellenic Passive House Institute (HPHI), Cyprus Energy Agency (CEA) and DaDiWerk in the UPGREAT project. UPGREAT project, aims to create the necessary conditions for the minimization of the performance gap between design and construction phase especially in school buildings in Greece and Cyprus. UPGREAT proposes the development, application and dissemination of a Total Training Toolkit which comprises of three different training programs; one for institutions of higher education, one for vocational high schools and one for lifelong training for professionals coming both from public and private sector. The overall capacity development in UPGREAT includes the upgrade of knowledge and experience on energy efficiency measures & circularity processes in school renovations, the enhancement of competence between engineers, architects and building experts, and the strengthening of national and international interaction between target groups.
The long term results expected from UPGREAT are multitudinous. It is not only the improved thermal comfort, health and environmental quality the building users will experience but also the gap between design & construction phase will be eliminated & transition to low energy buildings will be enforced. Furthermore, the suggested holistic design approach will result in reduced construction, operation & maintenance costs. Moreover, there will be an increased local capacity for planning & management to support transformative processes in the construction sector of building renovations. In addition, an upgrade of educational level and general public awareness will take place whereas the development of local sustainable energy and climate action plans to 2030 will be supported.
In conclusion, the path towards low energy buildings requires a holistic design approach while the upgrade of the construction workforce’s skills for deep energy efficiency renovations is in urgent need. UPGREAT project comes to facilitate and upgrade deep renovation practices providing an added value to building efficiency & circularity processes in municipal and regional level. In this, the four implementing partners of the project (NKUA, HPHI, CEA, DaDiWerk) are strongly supported and received funding from the German Federal Government through the European Climate Initiative (EUKI) that is administrated by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. The overarching goal of the EUKI is to foster climate cooperation within the European Union in order to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and UPGREAT is devoted to this vision.