A new model to engage with locals: Catania local platform

On the 9th of July, the University of Catania hosted an event (video) to discuss how the city can become a European model for building renovation. Academics, public representatives and local stakeholders joined the discussion to learn about the e-Safe project and debate the topic.  

Professor Gianpiero Evola, from the University of Catania, introduced the discussion with an overview of the e-SAFE project. e-SAFE is a European project funded under the Horizon 2020 programme. Over the next three years, the project will develop innovative solutions for building renovation, focusing on energy efficiency and seismic resilience.  

The e-Safe technology, as highlighted by the project coordinator, Professor Giuseppe Margini, in the following presentation, is based on e-PANEL technology. e-PANELs are applied to the outer shell of the building to improve insulation and increase seismic performance. This modular solution allows faster, cheaper and less invasive renovation works, improving the overall comfort for residents.  

Residents will not just benefit from the e-SAFE technology but also be involved in its designing process. Professor Laura Saija explained how e-SAFE is planning to engage with stakeholders through a network of local platforms. Each platform will bring together public and private actors. The idea is to develop and implement a tailored strategy to make renovation projects a driving force of the local economy. 

Catania is the first local platform to be activated. The city has been selected due to the characteristics of its building stock. Most of the city's residential constructions do not comply with the seismic regulation. "Catania -explained Professor Giuseppe Margini- was classified as a seismic zone in 1981 when 86% of houses had already been built (about 125,000 out of 145,00)". Same for the energy performance regulation: "The first law -continued the Professor- that introduced energy-saving requirements in construction dates back to 1991, when in Catania 95% of the buildings had already been built". The city will have to renew its building stock in the next future: e-SAFE technology could be the solution to address this challenge.   

The data presented by Professor Giuseppe Margani introduced the second part of the event. Public and private representatives of the local platform had the opportunity to start discussing the project. One of the focus groups discussed how e-SAFE could work in synergy with the social housing sector. The discussion was lead by a representative of IACP, the public authority which owns, manages and provides public housing in Catania. The agency will provide one of the residential buildings to test the e-SAFE technology. In parallel, the local platform will investigate how to scale up this model. 

Nello Musumeci, the President of the Region of Sicily, closed the event, remarking that "The project represents an important opportunity for Catania, with its university as the leader of the European partnership, and for Sicily". e-SAFE will allow "to upgrade existing buildings and avoid the occupation of new land", continued the President, as required by the new urban regulation recently approved by the Region.  

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