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Sustainable Energy Communities in Historic URBan Areas (SECHURBA)

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Historic buildings are excluded from the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive 2002/91 and often any new opportunities for sustainable technologies to be included are constrained by legislative, social, technical and economic barriers. This project aimed to look at these buildings on a community level and try to develop ways to encourage energy efficiency practices and renewable energy systems into these communities and set best practice examples to encourage other communities and local actors and policymakers to follow suit. The project showed cultural heritage as an opportunity to pave the way for carbon reductions rather than being considered a barrier. Audits will be undertaken in each partner area and software developed for use by key players (Planners, Architects, Conservation Officers) to make decisions regarding sustainable energy intervention. The local community will be engaged with throughout the whole process to ensure that feedback is gathered and also that there is a process of education regarding renewable technologies and energy efficiency methods. A dialogue between local municipalities and residents will also be formed to feed into the whole process.


  • Energy audits were conducted in 30 historic buildings in 7 Member States with advice on energy efficiency and renewable energy measures. The energy audits of the historic buildings revealed energy saving potentials of 46% on average.
  • Historic Community Climate Change Strategies - route map for policymakers in 6 communities.
  • SECHURBA Guide – barriers and prospects for sustainable energy intervention
  • Software tool for choosing appropriate intervention in historic buildings for use by planners, architects, surveyors and decision-makers in historic communities and buildings

Lessons learned

  • • Understanding, designing and retrofitting historic buildings requires a holistic approach that considers architectural, cultural, energy and economic viability. This approach differs from the traditional design/build process, as it is necessary to examine the integration and interrelation of all building components and systems, historic and contemporary technologies together so as to achieve energy efficiency and environmental impact reduction.
  • Many interventions can be made within a conservation and planning legislation dialogue which is key to developing a better understanding of the different expectations.
  • Regarding energy certification and the process of calculation of the energy performance of historic buildings, any future approach needs to accept that allowances must be made to take into consideration specific characteristics of these buildings that greatly affect their performance, such as high ceilings, the thermal mass potential, natural internal gains and the layout of historic buildings.

Partners and coordinator

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Marches Energy Agency Limited
United Kingdom
Contact point: 
Nicole Solomons
00 44 1743 277109


Key documents

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In brief

01/09/2008 to 28/02/2011
Contract number: 

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