The Staccato project
Out of all the consequences of climate change, ever hotter summers are without doubt suffered most by those living in the ’soviet-style’ apartment blocks, commonly known as ’panel blocks’. Now, the ’quality’ of the building in which we live is a very important factor in our radically changing weather. How? Today it is a proven fact that accelerating and more and more adverse climate change is a result of human activities. The ‘guilty party’ is the enormous quantity of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere, of which only part comes from transport and, as many still think today, from industrial activity. The truth is our use of energy is responsible for 70% of European greenhouse gas emissions, almost half of which is consumed by our buildings.
The worse our buildings’ insulation, the poorer the condition of the walls, the windows or the doors, the more energy we waste thoughtlessly – and although this is indirect, its impact on the atmosphere is measurable. In recognition of this, through directives, actions and countless other instruments, the European Union tries to make prospective builders construct more modern flats, and those owning out-dated property to upgrade their energy efficiency.
As the new member states joined the European Union, there was an increase in the proportion of those buildings which had been constructed using out-dated industrial technology or are run with extremely low energy efficiency. As a consequence of the rising energy prices, the upkeep of these buildings has become ever more expensive which proves a serious problem for the buildings’ owners or inhabitants, who actually tend to be from lower income groups. With the support of the European Commission research and development programme, new, energy-saving and energy efficiency improving technologies can be developed, with which the energy needs of these buildings can be reduced.
Besides the European Union, the Hungarian government also offers direct support for the renovation of ’panel blocks’ through the ’Panel Plus’ scheme, in the framework of which those improvements are supported which lead to household energy-savings, the improvement and modernisation of mechanical equipment, as well as the installation of systems that increase the use of renewable energy in industrially constructed buildings.
The Municipality of Óbuda-Békásmegyer joined the STACCATO project in 2005, to become the third municipality, together with Amsterdam Noord and Sofia Oborishte, to undertake a pilot project renovating selected block houses.
A Staccato project is a complex EU programme. Besides the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, the sociological implications are also significant. Hence, a social impact assessment is also being prepared, examining the conditions before and after the renovation takes place. While the renovation is undoubtedly the most spectacular aspect of the programme, the 4 year long monitoring process is also an integral part, starting as soon as the works have been completed.