Teaching centre a prototype for energy-efficient design

The teaching centre at Montelupone, in Italy’s Marche region, is a prototype of responsible architectural design. Its focus on technological innovation is intended to guide the construction and management of public buildings, promoting use of solar energy plants, acting as a model for reducing energy consumption and fostering awareness of the need to respect the environment.

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The teaching centre at Montelupone © Alessandra Marchetti The teaching centre at Montelupone © Alessandra Marchetti

" The Montelupone teaching centre was constructed with all the most innovative passive and active technologies in order to construct a nearly zero-energy building. The project attempts to maximise the advantages given by environmental resources, within a number of economic limits, while minimising dependence on fossil fuels and mechanical power plants. "

Simone Tascini, School of Architecture and Design, Università degli studi di Camerino

The Montelupone teaching centre was built using the latest passive and active energy-saving systems, which work in synergy to ensure energy conservation. Most of what is used comes from renewable energy production systems on site.

Combining environmental sustainability with architectural merit, the centre provides the local community with a new section for educational and social integration services. The San Firmano Montelupone nursery school is also located in the new section as is previous location had become unfit for use.

Administrative cooperation

Taking account of economic constraints, the project set out to maximise the use of natural resources for energy generation while minimising dependence on fossil fuels and industrial power plants, in line with guidelines from the Marche regional authorities. 

Studies were undertaken focusing on low-energy building design combined with energy provision through active systems, solar panels for example, passive systems in the form of a solar greenhouse and other renewable sources, such as geothermal energy.

The development of the building was based on close cooperation between municipal and regional administrations and the project team. The cooperation made it possible to optimise the technology. The centre is in line with an EU policy to develop a low-carbon economy, and a good example of a local spin-off of national and supranational energy policies.

The project provided an opportunity to trial new design approaches and raise awareness of climate change and the importance of saving energy, backed up by communication campaigns carried out by local and regional authorities.

The people involved from the start attended all public meetings held during the development and welcomed the innovations. By publishing all details of the works, the public administration allowed other organisations to see the benefits in terms of energy costs and public health, and how synergies between authorities at different levels can meet community needs in a way that can be replicated elsewhere.

Low energy, high comfort

Acting as an intelligent interface, the building communicates with its surroundings to ensure that all of the integrated technologies work well. Emphasis was placed on automation so as to maximise the use of passive installations, thereby combining low energy consumption with a high level of comfort. 

The energy savings allow the municipal administration to cover the project’s costs, while the production capacity of the centre’s solar panels exceeds its requirements. Selling the excess energy helps pay for the maintenance costs of the building and surrounding park.

The centre – the school building and the park – provides several different possibilities for the integration of photovoltaic plants with the architecture. These range from roof covers and shading structures to pathways and stand-alone street lamps.

The teaching centre is now seen as a good practice example at national and international level and has been used as a case study in university lectures in Italy and abroad. The team of architects and engineers was asked by other local authorities to work on similar jobs, while the building received numerous prizes, including an honourable mention in the new construction projects category at the 2014 Marche regional architecture awards.

Total investment and EU funding 

Total investment for the project “Experimental teaching centre for the promotion/distribution of small photovoltaic plants” is EUR 914 606, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 286 051 through the “Marche” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.


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