LIFE Project Cover Photo

Improving energy efficiency of housing stock : impacts on indoor environmental quality and public health in Europe

Reference: LIFE09 ENV/FI/000573 | Acronym: INSULATE

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

BACKGROUND

Buildings are responsible for 40% of energy consumption and 36% of CO2 emissions in the EU. While new buildings generally need less than three to five litres of heating oil per square meter per year, older buildings consume about 25 litres on average. Some buildings even require up to 60 litres.

Currently (2017), about 35% of the EU's buildings are over 50 years old. By improving the energy efficiency of buildings, we could reduce total EU energy consumption by 5% to 6% and lower CO2 emissions by about 5%.

The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD: 2010/31/EU) sets ambitious objectives to reduce the energy consumption of buildings, both private and public. This directive has also a key role to play in promoting the identification and implementation of effective energy saving measures in the building sector.


OBJECTIVES

The INSULATE project focused on the assessment of national programmes to improve the energy performance of existing housing stock, including cost-effective and proven measures such as government-supported improvements in thermal insulation. The project?s specific objectives included developing a common protocol for assessing the impacts of a building?s energy performance on indoor environmental quality and health; establishing an integrated approach for the assessment of environmental and health information, including demonstrating the use of relevant environmental and health indicators; demonstrating the effects (both positive and negative) of energy efficiency on Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ) and health in up to three different European countries; developing guidelines to support the implementation of related policies; and facilitating transnational networking and the dissemination of information.


RESULTS

The INSULATE project developed a comprehensive protocol for assessing the impacts of improved energy efficiency measures in existing multi-family buildings on Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) and health, along with a set of IEQ indicators for use in assessing energy retrofits and large-scale renovations. In addition, a large database was constructed, which consisted of data collected from Finnish and Lithuanian multi-family buildings before and after energy retrofits.

Extensive field studies of multi-family buildings were undertaken to assess the impacts of energy-efficiency related renovations: 46 buildings (241 apartments) in Finland and 20 buildings (96 apartments) in Lithuania. Additional case studies were conducted in Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and the UK. The project?s methodology, tested and applied before and after energy retrofits, included measurements of temperature, humidity and other parameters, the collection of environmental samples, and resident surveys. This involved implementing the project?s new standardised protocol for assessing the impacts of energy efficiency improvements on IEQ and health, in conjunction with 39 indicators useful for IEQ assessments in connections with renovations. These indicators, which were divided into categories related to environmental quality, health and well-being, can also be used to complement energy audits.

The project results demonstrated that, overall, the effects of energy retrofits on IEQ and occupant health are mainly neutral or positive. In some cases, value can be added by improvements in both health and productivity, in which case investing in improving energy efficiency can bring savings that outweigh investment costs in the long run. Effective dissemination of this information can help to increase the number of retrofitted buildings that have improved energy efficiency.

Policy-wise, the project results will undoubtedly contribute to the implementation of the new Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (2010/31/EU) , which aims among other things that all new buildings must be nearly zero energy buildings by 31 December 2020. The project also supports international policy relating to buildings, environment and health, such as the World Health Organization?s (WHO) Fourth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health that recognised the need for environment and health to be at the core of policies on housing and energy use.

The project team considered that the most important pathways related to environmental exposures and health were related to indoor temperature and ventilation characteristics, which in turn affect thermal comfort and indoor air quality as weThe INSULATE project developed a comprehensive protocol for assessing the impacts of improved energy efficiency measures in existing multi-family buildings on Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) and health, along with a set of IEQ indicators for use in assessing energy retrofits and large-scale renovations. In addition, a large database was constructed, which consisted of data collected from Finnish and Lithuanian multi-family buildings before and after energy retrofits.

Extensive field studies of multi-family buildings were undertaken to assess the impacts of energy-efficiency related renovations: 46 buildings (241 apartments) in Finland and 20 buildings (96 apartments) in Lithuania. Additional case studies were conducted in Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and the UK. The project?s methodology, tested and applied before and after energy retrofits, included measurements of temperature, humidity and other parameters, the collection of environmental samples, and resident surveys. This involved implementing the project?s new standardised protocol for assessing the impacts of energy efficiency improvements on IEQ and health, in conjunction with 39 indicators useful for IEQ assessments in connections with renovations. These indicators, which were divided into categories related to environmental quality, health and well-being, can also be used to complement energy audits.

The project results demonstrated that, overall, the effects of energy retrofits on IEQ and occupant health are mainly neutral or positive. In some cases, value can be added by improvements in both health and productivity, in which case investing in improving energy efficiency can bring savings that outweigh investment costs in the long run. Effective dissemination of this information can help to increase the number of retrofitted buildings that have improved energy efficiency.

Policy-wise, the project results will undoubtedly contribute to the implementation of the new Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (2010/31/EU) , which aims among other things that all new buildings must be nearly zero energy buildings by 31 December 2020. The project also supports international policy relating to buildings, environment and health, such as the World Health Organization?s (WHO) Fourth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health that recognised the need for environment and health to be at the core of policies on housing and energy use.

The project team considered that the most important pathways related to environmental exposures and health were related to indoor temperature and ventilation characteristics, which in turn affect thermal comfort and indoor air quality as we

ADMINISTRATIVE DATA


Reference: LIFE09 ENV/FI/000573
Acronym: INSULATE
Start Date: 01/09/2010
End Date: 31/12/2015
Total Budget: 1,847,039 €
EU Contribution: 923,413 €
Project Location:
Project Website:

CONTACT DETAILS


Coordinating Beneficiary: Terveyden ja hyvinvoinnin laitos (National institute for health and welfare)
Legal Status: PAT
Address: Mannerheimintie 16630, 00271, Helsinki,
Contact Person: Ulla HAVERINEN-SHAUGHNESSY
Email: ulla.haverinen-shaughnessy@thl.fi
Tel: +358 29 524 6000
Fax: +358 29 524 6111


LIFE Project Map

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ADDRESSED

THEMES

  • Building
  • Efficiency

KEYWORDS

  • indoor air pollution
  • indicator
  • environmental performance
  • building industry
  • environmental assessment
  • public health
  • energy efficiency

TARGET EU LEGISLATION

  • Directive 2012/27 - Energy efficiency (25.10.2012)
  • Directive 2010/31 - Energy performance of buildings (19.05.2010)

BENEFICIARIES

Name Type
Terveyden ja hyvinvoinnin laitos (National institute for health and welfare) Coordinator
Tampere University of Technology-Dept. of Civil Engineering, Finland Participant
Kaunas University of Technology-Dept. of Environmental, Engineering, Lithuania Participant
World Health Organization-European Centre for Environment and Health (Bonn Office), Germany Participant

Back