The Countdown Begins to Energy Efficient Social Housing

14 September 2018 – El Mundo

The revised Technical Building Code (CTE) is going to be published soon in Spain, in line with similar developments in other European countries. In addition to standardising a new way of building, the revised code is going to incorporate the definition of nearly zero energy buildings (EECNs), which will introduce much more demanding parameters than are currently in place.

Private property developers know that from 31 December 2020 onwards, all of the new properties that they build will have to comply with those guidelines. They are demands that come from Europe and that also affect new buildings that are occupied and publicly owned, including social housing. Those buildings must comply with the energy requirements from 31 December of this year.

But, are the Public Administrations prepared? According to Inés Leal, Director of the Nearly Zero Energy Building Congress, “the large cities are better equipped to handle the implementation of nearly zero energy buildings than the smaller towns, which may find it harder to achieve the objectives”.

Although there are not many constructed EECN public housing projects, the buildings certified under the Passivhaus standard have become the closest example of nearly zero energy buildings.

Adelina Uriarte, President of the Passivhaus Building Platform (PEP), believes that the different administrations have the capacity to adapt to the guidelines of European legislation in this regard. What’s more, she adds that “those with the greatest predisposition have already done so ahead of the established deadline”.

One of them is the Town Hall of Madrid, which wanted to set the example and anticipate the 2019 deadline. Thus, at the Municipal Plenary on 25 May 2016, an agreement was unanimously adopted which assumes that all new buildings that are planned, and even those that are already standing that have to undergo an extension or a comprehensive renovation, must be positive from an energy perspective (…).

Financing and costs

In terms of financing, the experiences involving public housing already undertaken in Spain are demonstrating that EECNs are economically viable. In fact, according to Germán Velázquez, Partner at VArquitectos, a public building can be made nearly zero energy efficient with the same budget. And he justifies it: “The current legislation demands several issues that no longer represent an extra cost for developing ECCNs; the key is in the drafting of a good set of plans to ensure that the euro ratios per square metre are equivalent to those of a conventional building”. In his experience, the average cost per square metre amounts to around €650/750 in a conventional public building compared with €700/800 that it costs to construct a public EECN (…).

Original story: El Mundo (by Juanjo Bueno)

Translation: Carmel Drake