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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Green Neighbourhoods project

ANA-MPA/The environment ministry on Wednesday presented its "Green Neighbourhoods" project, under which 70 to 80 buildings in two Athens neighbourhoods will be refurbished so as to maximise their energy efficiency, reduce their energy consumption to almost zero levels, while improving the local microclimate.

By using the latest materials, techniques and methods to minimise environmental impact, creating energy saving systems and use of renewable energy sources, the project hopes to create homes with a zero energy balance. Systems will also be installed to ensure optimal management of wastes and water.

At the same time, there will be work on the surrounding environment to increase plant cover and facilitate air flow, thus improving the microclimate.

Figures published by Eurostat show that Greek homes, relative to their climate, have the highest energy consumption in Europe (so that a Greek home is twice as energy-hungry as a northern European home). This has been attributed to mistaken use of space, use of materials inappropriate for the climate and overly dense construction.

The project seeks to show that targets for energy-efficient homes are both economically and technically feasible and improve local construction and technological skills in this area, thus promoting their adoption on the world market.

A number of sector associations for building materials have so far offered their support for the project, promising discounts for materials and equipment, while the new homes will be designed by young architects and designers chosen through an open competition.

The total cost will be 5.5 million euros and will be funded by the Operational Programme "Environment and Sustainable Development".

Candidate sites for the project include a building block in Egaleo and a housing complex in the municipality of Agia Varvara.

According to Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili, this may later be extended to other neighbourhoods with poor energy profiles and, through use of NSRF funds, to mountain villages, ports, traditional settlements and elsewhere. The project is set to start in the next two or three weeks.

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