Concerto: Shift Strategy to Save Energy, Money

by | Nov 5, 2012

A change in strategy — involving building residents in energy-efficient renovations, for example — can mean project success in tough economic times, according to project managers at a renewable energy and energy efficiency conference in Brussels.

The conference, Oct. 22-23, brought together 22 coordinators for Concerto projects subsidized by the European Union. Concerto is a European Commission initiative that aims to demonstrate that making entire communities of building more energy efficient is cheaper than renovating each building individually.

All 58 Concerto communities in 23 counties use “smart technologies” to reduce their buildings’ carbon footprint; Concerto says more information about the low-carbon technologies will be available by the end of the year.

Each project covers up to four communities and sites in different EU countries, and each site implements different CO2 reduction approaches, according to the initiative.

Concerto organizers say Concerto cities and communities have shown that by implementing renewable energy sources, innovative technologies and an integrated approach, existing buildings can cut CO2 emissions by up to 50 percent, at “acceptable costs.”

Concerto project coordinators shared their stories at the October conference.

While the Irish Republic has been hard hit by the financial crisis, Seamus Hoyne from the Limerick Institute of Technology said his Concerto project still found success: 400 buildings renovated and 50 energy-efficient buildings built from scratch. This project took a departure from the normal course by involving residents, 90 percent of whom owned the renovated buildings.

The investment saved the community money, according to Concerto, but it doesn’t say how much.

As another example: 100 new houses were originally to be built as part of a new-build project in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. When the financial crisis hit, project manager Iver Jan Leren says his Concerto project shifted focus to renovating existing buildings from the 1950s and 1960s.

Reto M. Hummelshøj said renovations and new-build projects completed in Helsingborg, Sweden and Helsingør, Denmark saw CO2 emission reductions amounting to 28 percent but doesn’t give a baseline.

Conference attendees said rethinking technologies along with procedures could bring dividends, and used a CHP plant in Milton Keynes, UK as an example.

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