Ecologic houses for energy saving

By: Michele De Capitani

In these times of increased energy costs, global warming caused by the greenhouse effect, researches on renewable and ecologically sustainable energy sources, one of the biggest challenges is the one to make our houses more efficient and less dependent from energy demand.

Ecologic houses are no more a utopia, but a reality. More and more enterprises apply on this field, that is in the construction or refurbishment of real estate properties to make them satisfy these needs of energy efficiency and energy saving. For whom wants to live his first house in harmony with the environment, the possibilities now exist and are not just a few.

Especially in the north of Italy, there are a lot of construction enterprises that decided to commit on designing and constructing ecologic houses.
Energy saving houses is a very interesting theme for all consumers and combined with the coming into force of the new regulation on energy certification for buildings, it represents the most actual theme in the construction sector. We just have to think that in notarized buying and selling deeds, also the buildings performances resulting from the energy demand certification have to be reported. This to understand how much this new is important both for builders, that have to conform to minimum standard required by the regulation, and for the buyers, that will have to buy with clarity, being aware of the house performance in relation with the price requested by the vendor.

For the field of restoration and construction of ecological houses seems to appear a very interesting future, given that their performances are well above the minimum required by the more restrictive legislation which will come into force in 2009 and thus provide users with exceptional advantages in terms of energy savings relative to their costs of construction. According to the annual energy consumption per square meter, the houses are classified in categories A, B, C, D, E, F and G in terms of its annual consumption of heat per unit area.

In Italy, the home heating and the heating of sanitation water is the second leading cause of pollution, just after the traffic, and represents over 15% of national energy consumption. In northern Italy regions, the heating of houses accounts for more than 70% on energy consumption of households.
Such consumption is strongly linked to the type of "envelope" with which the house is built, and there is almost always very high room for improvement. An extreme case but that illustrates the technological possibilities is that of "passive houses", houses greatly isolated in which there are no heating system powered by conventional sources (gas, diesel etc.), but that, to maintain the internal temperature, exploit only solar contributions and those of internal activities (household, presence of people etc.)..
The orientation towards the south, and the presence of shade, are other aspects of fundamental importance in terms of energy, to be taken into account during the design of a building. The south orientation and the presence of shade are other aspects of fundamental importance in terms of energy, to be taken into account during the design of a building. A proper sunlight exposure makes it possible to exploit the most solar heat in winter and instead reduce the exposure in summer.

Strongly behind the best European standards, our built heritage is still very deficient in this aspect. But margins of improvement are impressive, the technologies exist, and now the time to invest on them has come!

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