The World's Energy Consciousness

The building sector has seen a considerable technological development over the last decade, resulting from the integration of new concepts in the construction techniques and the introduction of systems for monitoring the final performance. In addition,a growing awareness of the ecological and energy aspects has lead to an ever-increasing attention to detail at all the building works phases, from the design through construction to the installation of systems and up to the final finishing works. Whilst only a few years ago attention was mainly given to appearance aspects, it is now also necessary to consider energy saving,noise reduction, resistance to earthquakes and other exceptional natural events and the application of state of the art technologies.

The achievement of high construction standards requires both compliance with building standards and constant attention to quality during the entire construction process. This aim can be achieved by detailed design, followed by a careful selection of the materials and the works to be performed and, above all, the choice of qualified building contractors, with adequate experience and reliability, who are able to complete the works within the planned time and with the specified quality.Particular attention is paid to energy issues as, nowadays, perhaps more than ever before, investing in plans to reduce consumption and, therefore,the reduction of CO2 emissions, reduces the operating costs for a building and, above all, protects the environment. Studies by experts indicate that the use of energy in buildings causes more than 40% of all the CO2 emissions; for this reason, adopting construction methods which provide improvements from an energy consumption point of view can be defined as a true alternative energy sources.

The aims for the future:Kyoto and Europe 20-20-20

The Kyoto Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005 with the aim of combating the threat of the green-house effect and climate changes. The protocol was signed by 141 countries and declared the attempt to reconcile environmental and economic interests. The aim was to slow down global warming by reducing the emission of gases responsible for the greenhouse effect (especially carbon dioxide) and for this reason, percentage reduction figures were established, differing from country to country, for which the governments undertook to implement a programme for achieving the aim. The European Union set itself an aim for the reduction of CO2 of 8% and at the end of 2012 the result was estimated to be approximately 10%, but,unfortunately, with significant differences between the various countries,and between the regions within the countries.

2012 should have signalled the end of the period of validity of the Kyoto Protocol, but with the Doha Agreement it was extended up to 2020 The interventions of the EU regarding reduction of the energy consumption of buildings and the sustainability of energy supply sources have complex origins arising from the experiences and developments of the national policies concerning energy and the environment. The EU further intensified the commitment undertaken by Member States with the Kyoto Protocol by implementing a strategy for autonomous reduction of climate changing emissions by 20% by 2020, which was formalised in Directive 2009/29/EC of 5 June 2009, with specific guidance on renewable energy sources.

With reference to the deadline of 2020, the EU strategy has three objectives:

1.20% reduction in the primary energy source consumptions compared with the forecasts

2. 20% reduction in climate changing gas emissions compared with the commitments previously under-taken with the Kyoto Protocol, ETS(Emission Trading Scheme)

3. 20% increase in the renewable energy sources for the final consumptions (electrical, for heating,cooling, etc)

In order to achieve significant results it is necessary to intervene in the building sector, in the day-to-day habits of the population, in the industrial processes and in the energy production,rooting out poor education regarding protection of the environment. With regard to the building sector, the process is further complicated by the fact that one cannot significantly intervene ONLY on the new buildings (as is the case, for example, with motor vehicles) but it is necessary to ALSO intervene on the existing properties, with greater technical problems, regulatory difficulties, etc. It is a social necessity to construct all the new buildings with "zero-energy" methods, but in order to achieve results on a large scale it will be necessary to intervene drastically on obsolete and energy sapping buildings.

Directive 2010/31/EU requires the Member States to define minimum energy performance  requirements for new and existing buildings, ensuring certification and regulating controls on heating and ventilation systems with the aim of achieving "Nearly Zero- Energy Buildings" by 2021.

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