27 May 2008

The Ecologic Way to Paradise

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An energy-efficient church has been recently built in Norway by a pool of European designers and architects

In the district of Hol, located west of Oslo, a church built in 1920 was renovated to become energy efficient for as little cost as possible, while respecting its status as a historical monument. Each renovation had to be totally invisible to visitors. The insulation of floors, ceilings and windows along with the installation of a solar heating system outside the building inconspicuously optimize the building’s energy sources.

A little ways away from the church, a solar panel column pipes warm air underground and into the building, where it’s manually circulated by an air canon. The system’s inexpensive since it’s regulated by nature, and allows a gain in temperature of at least 10 degrees inside the church without any major additional costs.

Researchers in architecture, energy resources and sociology work together to guarantee a balance between ecology, economy and user comfort, the three elements which constantly factor in to their decisions. Consequently, for this school and community located near Oslo in Borgen, it cost less to improve the energy efficiency of the building than to rebuild it. This retrofit was made in order to adapt to the various activities held in the community center (meetings, cultural and social events) and the school’s new Norwegian teaching methods. The original building was poorly ventilated and didn’t let in much daylight. It’s now been renovated to improve insulation and ventilation; skylights have been put in along with a heat pump system to regulate heating in real time. Such improvements have turned the building into an example of sustainable development.

The goal of the Brita in Pubs project (Bringing Retrofit Innovation to Application in Public Buildings), supported by the European Commission, is to offer retrofit solutions in line with sustainable development norms for public buildings without generating additional costs. Exemplary retrofits of nine buildings – schools, a day care center, student housing, a church, library, cultural center, etc. – are underway. The project is aimed at reaching groups of varying age and social origin. Public buildings provide an excellent means of heightening public awareness of energy conservation.

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