In the last few decades the impact of human beings on our planet has become more and more extreme. This is the reason why governments have started to promote more environmentally friendly policies and more sustainable ways of living. But what does sustainable mean? Sustainability, when applied to production and buildings, refers to the ratio between the energy that is produced and the energy that is dispersed. A sustainable home for instance is one which saves energy and is consequently cost-effective; in other words, it uses less energy than it needs without any waste, therefore keeping bills reasonably low.
Looking for a sustainable and efficient house is not only beneficial in terms of saving money but it is also good for the environment. Almost every government now has its own regulations and incentives so that more people resort to energy-saving strategies even after having purchased or built a house. The European Union for example has been trying to respect the so-called 20-20-20 plan (20% reduction in greenhouse gas and 20% energetic improvement by 2020), and Italy has recently introduced more norms such as the latest 2020 regulation which introduces new measures regarding the structural condition of buildings as well as new ways of educating people and raising awareness about the environment. In the meanwhile, energy class levels have been updated ranging from class G to class A4. In particular, G corresponds to a high consumption rate and A corresponds to a low energy consumption rate. The energy class levels in Italy are determined by a licensed technician that carries out a professional energy audit and the result is stated in a document called APE (Certificate of Energy Performance) which takes the following factors into consideration: materials and dimensions of the building, presence of renewable energy sources and recent renovation works.
Since more incentives, benefits and tax credits have been introduced this is indeed the best moment for an Italian homeowner (or seller) to plan structural changes to a building. The Italian government recently introduced a bonus called “super eco-bonus” that is applied to works carried out on heating systems, solar panels, and any other type of work that allows the building to skip up two energy class levels. These works can improve the quality of life as well as add value to the building. It is worth pointing out that although carrying out these works might seem expensive and time-consuming, they will ultimately benefit both the seller and the buyer. As a result, a considerable number of homeowners have adhered to these new regulations and clients who are interested in buying a house in Italy can choose from a wide variety of environmentally-friendly options.
But what do you need to look out for specifically when buying a house?
One of the first things to take into consideration when buying a house is its dimension: the more square-meters it takes up, the less energy efficient it is. A two-story house, for example, is more energy efficient as it has less surface area to heat and cool. A garden is an additional positive factor as it improves the building’s overall sustainability; moreover, plants help to protect the house from the sun or the wind. The presence of asphalt or concrete near the building as opposed to ponds or fountains, for instance, is another factor to take into account. Asphalt and concrete, in fact, absorb solar heat and slowly release it during the night. Finally, a building’s insulation helps to keep the temperature inside the building constant thus preventing its inhabitants to use an excessive amount of energy to heat up or to cool down the house. From this point of view, the presence of doors and windows, attics and basements should be carefully analyzed.
As for energy production and preservation, solar panels and solar water heaters are an excellent form of saving energy and optimizing resources. Solar panels have been further developed over the last years and their maintenance is not as expensive and difficult as it used to be. Furthermore, heat pumps are excellent substitutes for traditional furnaces: they produce up to three times the amount of energy they require, and some models can also be used as cooling systems.
In conclusion, we have seen that what determines the overall efficiency of a building is the energy class it belongs to. However, this article has also sought to provide information regarding the changes that can be done to a building in order to improve its energy efficiency and overall value. If you need further information and you are looking for environmentally friendly and sustainable options on the real estate market in Italy, feel free to contact Italian Real Estate Lawyers at email@example.com