TheREPUBLIC-MED project focuses on the development and experimentation of a new methodology for conducting complete techno-economical studies towards the refurbishment of public buildings and open spaces (public spaces). The project acknowledges the EU Commission’s recent regulatory framework concerning the renovation of public buildings, i.e. the new directive 2012/27/EU, according to which Member States shall renovate each year 3% of the total floor area owned and occupied by administrative departments at a level below central government. The renovation should focus on the achievement of minimum energy performance requirements set in article 4 of the latest Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) 2010/31/EU, i.e. minimum energy performance requirements set in each Member State.
Based on the directives above, it becomes obvious that EU Commission recognize the examplary role of the public sector towards the development of future sustainable smart cities. In the context of transforming the public sector, public-buildings renovation plays an important role for the following reasons:
Most public buildings are old, therefore they are not harmonized with recent directives.
They possess a high energy-saving potential which can be achieved through the implementation of technical solutions.
The efficiency of public services depends on workers’ productivity which is directly affected by indoor comfort and air quality conditions. Measures to ensure the latter elevate productivity and improve services, within the context of a functional Smart City.
They represent reference components in establishing sustainable bridges to future Smart Cities.
The renovation of public open spaces is also a significant factor for achieving sustainability in City environments, as long as it targets on the mitigation of the so-called Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect. Apart from creating a healthy and comfortable environment for pedestrians, another benefit of UHI-mitigation renovation projects is the reduction of energy demand for cooling purposes of buildings existing in the urban fabric, especially in Mediterranean Cities during the summer period. Although it is widely accepted that such renovation works are equally important to building renovations in terms of sustainable development of Mediterranean cities, the EU policy framework still remains weak concerning both the calculation of UHI indicators and technical requirements in comparison to building renovation ones. As a result, in most cases, empirical approaches and weak assumptions are adopted in the techno-economical study stage in order to design and plan open-spaces renovation projects, meaning that microclimate, environmental and comfort indicators’ predictions are often disregarded.
The REPUBLIC-MED addresses the necessity of innovation transfer to current study approaches adopted for retrofit works. New insights on the study stage are identified that can enhance current study methods towards the implementation of energy performance and urban planning standards, in the horizon of 2018 requirements for retrofit works in the public sector. The benefits of these novel approaches are highlighted through strategically selected pilot sites in the partner Countries. Based on the findings, energy and environmental policy planning recommendations and technical instructions where necessary are emerged.