Environment

First STEP towards sustainable public buildings

28/07/2011
First STEP towards sustainable public buildings

The Warsaw University of Technology STEP project is striving to improve the energy performance of Polish public buildings by developing new software and educational support tools.

The ‘Sustainable Thermomodernisation of Public Buildings’ (STEP) project addresses the knowledge gap associated with the energy performance of public buildings in Poland, particularly in the context of sustainability.

Driven by the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), STEP aims to:

  • Develop software to help calculate the energy demands of public buildings;
  • Devise sustainable development training courses for engineers and architects; and
  • Propose educational programmes on energy efficiency.

The Polish thermo-modernisation Act considers replacing fossil-fuel based heating systems with renewable systems, while implementing energy efficiency measures, as thermo-modernisation. Since 1998, investments have been made to reduce energy use in buildings. However, initial modernisations related to energy savings and economic efficiency rather than sustainability. Moreover, investments were focused on the housing sector, to the detriment of public buildings.

Minding the gap

For this reason, researchers at the Warsaw University of Technology (WUT) addressed the gap in the existing scope of thermal modernisation in Poland. The resulting project, STEP, was then submitted to the European Economic Area (EEA) Financial Mechanism and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism for funding. Collectively these mechanisms provide €1.3 billion for social and economic development across central and southern Europe. Out of 130 proposals, the project was one of ten to qualify for funding.

STEP started in December 2006 and will receive €804 000 over five years. It is intended to develop, demonstrate and disseminate concepts to increase the role of sustainability in the thermal modernisation of Polish buildings.

“Thermal modernisation addresses hot water systems as well as home heating and insulation,” says project supervisor Dr Aleksander Panek. “But it is important that such systems are also sustainable. STEP looks at additional issues, such as providing accompanying evaluation and analysis tools to help building managers make important decisions about the performance of their buildings.”

Desired results

STEP covers a series of issues, including the available technology for each building utility and the environmental impact of buildings. “We’ve provided important methodology input to the Polish government on the implementation of the EPBD,” says Dr Panek. “A calculation kernel is currently being developed to help anyone interested in determining the energy performance of their building.”

Project organisers believe their software will help with calculating energy demand and estimating the environmental impact of buildings. In addition, STEP will develop Internet training courses and educational programmes for engineers and architects that relate to sustainable development and energy efficiency.

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