by Nicolas Roy, VELUX Group
With 90% of today’s buildings probably still in use by 2050 and 75% of Europe’s buildings being energy inefficient, the building sector is one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters. Is this the whole problem? Unfortunately not.
Today, one out of six Europeans reports living in unhealthy buildings, characterised by damp, a lack of daylight, inadequate heating in winter or overheating problems during summer. That is why we are committed to find new ways of planning buildings and cities, where both people and the environment are placed at centre stage.
Engaging in 2 of Europe’s leading building science conferences
In the beginning of July, we will be playing an active role in two major European building conferences – Healthy Buildings Europe 2017 in Lublin, Poland, and Passive Low Energy Architecture 2017 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Here, our architects and engineers will be presenting 11 research papers and facilitating a workshop under the theme “How to renovate residential buildings efficiently and affordably?”.
Some of the many findings we will be sharing are among others: Circadian House as a vision for healthy and human-centric buildings, Europeans’ view on healthy living, and a new concept for affordable, sustainable and replicable renovation of a social housing.
3 key principles of healthy living at home
The presentation “Circadian House as a vision for healthy and human-centric building design” will give insights into the design of healthy residential buildings – where common sense, knowledge from the past and new technologies are integral parts of the solution.
- Live in balance with nature: A house in balance with nature allows the occupants to live with and follow the daily and seasonal cycles of the outdoor environment.
- Adaptability: A house which space and occupants can adapt to changing conditions (daily, seasonal) and needs.
- Sensibility: A house that provides protection against harmful substances, which humans cannot sense, and allows freedom to control parameters that can be sensed.
The Circadian House – Principles and guidelines for healthy homes are the outcome of 5 workshops held with international experts from building research and practice.
What do Europeans think about this?
In 2015, the answer was clear. Europeans find that their health starts at home. Europeans rated the home arena more important than a healthy diet or being physically active. Curiously enough, this concern did not seem to spur much action. Europeans worry about their indoor climate, but do little to improve it – by frequent airing, for example. For more, see the study Healthy Homes Barometer 2015
The 2016 Healthy Homes Barometer identified five key characteristics of a healthy home: good sleeping conditions, comfortable indoor temperatures, fresh air, satisfactory levels of daylight, and appropriate levels of humidity.
Findings from the Healthy Homes Barometers 2015 and 2016 will be presented and discussed in the presentation “Healthy homes barometer – A survey among European citizens”.
Affordable and replicable renovation of social housing is needed
We believe affordability will be a key driver in increasing the share of energy-efficient and healthy renovated buildings. High cost is commonly a main barrier when owners decide whether to renovate or not, and reducing the cost of renovation is therefore a paramount factor in adding more volume to energy-efficient and low carbon emitting buildings.
This topic will be addressed in the presentation of the RenovActive Concept – a healthy and affordable renovation project of a single-family home located in Cité du Bon Air, Belgium, developed in close collaboration between VELUX architects and the social housing association, Foyer Anderlechtois.