Around one-third of Slovakia’s population lives in housing estates constructed just after the 1950s. These buildings are far from energy-efficient, especially in the winter months when residents turn the central heating on. LIFE DELIVER is coming up with some low carbon solutions to the problem.
Buildings account for 40% of the EU’s energy consumption and 36% of its greenhouse gas emissions. The EU knows that improving their energy efficiency is vital for achieving its 2050 climate targets under the European Green Deal. And its recent EU Renovation Wave Strategy, which aims to double renovation rates over the next ten years, will also ensure that these renovations lead to higher energy and resource efficiency.
Slovakia’s Bratislava-Karlova Ves municipality is home to many so-called “prefabricated” buildings. These structures comprise factory-made components assembled on-site. In the past, they were a cheap and quick solution to the lack of homes for the rising population. But they are not well insulated and lose a lot of heat in the winter, while in the summer months they overheat quickly.
‘Despite districts like ours suffering from extreme weather events like heatwaves and storms, there have been no major actions taken to reduce the energy intensity of the buildings,’ says the LIFE DELIVER’s project lead expert, Zuzana Hudekova. ‘And little has been done to improve biodiversity here,’ she adds.
Building by example
To counter this, the team has just started building an entire school and a kindergarten using energy-efficient materials, which will provide cleaner air and more greenery to future occupants. ‘Water features, trees and shrubs, as well as rainwater collecting systems will also be put in place beside both buildings to boost biodiversity,’ says Zuzana.
These test buildings will serve as a model for future energy-efficient projects. And it is hoped that other cities and districts across the country will be inspired to undertake similar initiatives.
Project partners also plan on developing an online tool that will be able to monitor, assess and present the impact of climate change adaptation and mitigation actions in the district. This tool will help authorities to make the right decisions in the face of climate change for the benefit of the environment and residents.
A long-term climate strategy
Also foreseen is a so-called climate-resilient, low carbon action plan. This will set out a long-term vision to improve the district’s climate resilience and to boost sustainable energy initiatives while reducing emissions. The plan will also provide information to interested parties on its expected social, environmental and economic benefits.
Public awareness activities, meetings and an information campaign are planned under the project.
Community at the heart
Moreover, the team will set up a climate and biodiversity education centre. This will involve local communities, helping raise awareness on the need to combat and adapt to climate change.
In fact, the public will be encouraged to actively participate in the project, through information sessions, planning meetings and surveys.
Based on the project’s findings, the team aims to ultimately propose various amendments to improve Slovakia’s current nature and public buildings’ laws.
Update on energy efficiency project funding
Under the new multiannual financial framework (2021-2027), energy efficiency projects will be funded by the LIFE programme. These projects were previously supported under the Horizon 2020 programme.
Image: LIFE17 CCA/SK/000126. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.