CORDIS - EU research results

URBAN RECREATION: Energy efficient retrofit for carbon zero and socio-oriented urban environments

Final Report Summary - URBAN RECREATION (URBAN RECREATION: Energy efficient retrofit for carbon zero and socio-oriented urban environments)

Appropriate strategies to reduce energy consumption, increase Renewable Energy Sources (RES) penetration within local urban ecosystems are the high priorities towards zero energy and low carbon cities. In this context Real Urban Environments (RUE) represent the core of the search for new intersections between energy issues and urban dwellers.
URBAN RECREATION has demonstrated the technical feasibility of zero energy and nearly zero emission in the retrofit of existing RUEs. The project also discussed and demonstrated innovative architectural solutions to achieve the economical and social feasibility of nearly zero energy in existing built environments.

To reach this aim the research has developed the following main three work phases.

1) URBAN RECREATION project has firstly discussed progress in nearly zero energy research and practice, with particular reference to the case of the Mediterranean context and the Athens Metropolitan area, illustrating: a review of the main energy related issues in urban environment, with a particular reference to a background description of the Mediterranean climate and its cooling demand related to the Heat Island phenomenon; a brief review of the current policy background related to nearly zero energy buildings (nZEBs) with some notes on the definition of nZEBs with regards to recent European Directives; a concise review on past and recent case studies and demonstration projects in the Mediterranean region. Starting from these studies in literature and from achievements in pilot projects aimed at reducing the cooling and heating demand in buildings, the project has delineated the steps to be undertaken to widen the nZEB technical knowledge in the existing built environments of the Mediterranean cities, shifting technical achievements from newly conceived buildings towards the rehabilitation of existing building stock.

2) In the second phase, URBAN RECREATION has selected, studied and analysed three urban settings of the Athens Metropolitan Area (AMA), starting with a critical discussion concerning the appropriate selection of representative case studies as potential reiterative units in the framework scale of a whole city.
In the selected three Real Urban Environments (RUEs), energy simulations have been performed to depict the energy demand in the different cases; results demonstrate the extremely low energy performance of the existing compound’s buildings as built; therefore alternative retrofitting design scenarios have been proposed and validated to verify the energy saving potential of selected techniques at the building scale. Accordingly, the energy generation to set to zero energy the urban settings has been also evaluated and presented.
This part of the research work demonstrates that a large set of possible solutions is technically feasible to achieve nZEBs, even in highly energy consuming buildings of existing urban environments: the technical feasibility of nearly Zero Energy Buildings and Zero Energy Urban Settings in urban climate may be considered a realistic and credible reaching. Furthermore, at the larger urban scale, the chapter investigates the effects of green on heat island mitigation and on the energy demand for cooling, demonstrating the paramount additional saving brought about by retrofitting the open areas and redesigning the surfaces of the built environment by using green. However, in this section of the research it is pointed out how, so far, only a negligible part of the current buildings are renovated every year. This means that a series of barriers must be overcome for the adoption of measures and actions to reach the target of nearly zero energy urban settings.
3) In the third phase, the research work tackles about these barriers. Comparing the economic and energy impact of different design and architectural options URBAN RECREATION has analysed the economic feasibility of retrofitting actions to achieve nearly Zero Urban Settings. Furthermore, a participative process involving the inhabitants has been developed and questionnaires have been delivered and collected to understand the major requirements and needs of the urban dwellers in the Municipality of Peristeri. Results have been used to propose alternative scenarios aimed at increasing the asset value of the buildings through tailored solutions. The final part of the work aims at addressing the following important questions:
- Is the technical feasibility combinable with the economic and social feasibility in the retrofitting of existing buildings towards nearly zero urban settings?
- To what extent deep renovation and high transformation of buildings towards nZEBs is competitive with respect to shallow or conventional retrofit? Which type of non-energy related factors could be considered to properly assess this competitiveness?
Calculation of and further reflection on estimated costs for the energy retrofitting options indicate the needing for additional actions and measures to counterbalance the high up-front costs and the long pay back times of energy retrofitting.
From the concept of deep renovation URBAN RECREATION identifies the possibility of achieving a major renovation to achieve nZEBs: other energy retrofitting operations involving the use of sunspaces, buffer zones, extra-rooms up to possible “assistant buildings” were considered, comparing and discussing the various design assumptions and the consequent variations in the economic viability.
Thus, the research aims at contributing to the current debate on shallow-versus-deep and deep-versus-major renovation in existing buildings, showing potential achievement of major renovation towards nZEBs through architectural and technical modifications not discussed so far.

Outreach initiatives to apply retrofitting actions within real Urban Environments have been performed. The study of energy potential has involved both stakeholders at public level in the Municipality of Peristeri and in the Attica province (by meeting public administrators and urban dwellers in the case of Peristeri urban compound) as well as business economic actors like National banks officers and directors in Athens; in the discussion with these key actors we have realized that URBAN RECREATION strategy as designed is an effective added value both to RES penetration into the market of energy retrofit.
Web site
The site in under continuous implementation since outreach initiatives are on-going for widespread the project’s results. The fellow Annarita Ferrante will be in fact hosted in future seminars of the host institution (10th November, ZEMED project, Athens), InZEB national and international training courses (7th November, Athens).