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As the URBACT LINKS Network (Low-tech INherited of the old European cities as a Key for performance and sustainability) is approaching the conclusion of its activities (January 2013), Frédérique Calvanus, representative of Lead Partner City of Bayonne, has introduced in the first Hearing the activities carried out so far.

How can environment and heritage building protection be reconciled to offer a majority of people sustainable and attractive housing at the very heart of the city?  This is the main question that led the LINKS partners to focus on ECO-RESTORATION as an indispensable input in terms of quality and comfort.

What is Eco-restoration ?

The term eco-is now everywhere and became one of the most appealing in terms of marketing. A clear definition is compulsory :

The term Eco implies : Energy efficiency, with limited environmental impact (use of materials with low charge in water, energy, natural resource consumption, limited transport and waste production), a better health for the inhabitants and the craftsmen, a benefice for the local economy.

The terms Restoration means : a better comfort and quality of use, respect for heritage and architectural values, and respect for the behavior and the intrinsic qualities of the building.

Why should we develop eco-restoration ?

For technical reasons :

For energy-saving reasons, heritage buildings have been mishandled for years, being applied techniques that were developed for post-war buildings and were not only of poor efficiency, but also damaged old buildings. It has recently been shown that techniques inspired from eco-constructions only are appropriate and efficient to restore an old building, because they respect 2 main key drivers for performance and perennity of traditional buildings: breathability and inertia.

For environmental reasons:

To reach the European objectives of CO2 reduction, the member states will be encouraged to implement vast programmes for the buildings’ thermal renovation (the objective for France is 400 000 dwellings/year until 2020). These renovation will represent a huge amount of material, and – if we do not care – a huge amount of embodied energy.

It is compulsory to pay more attention to the life cycle analysis of insulation material to reach the target of CO2 reduction.

 For economical reasons:

Traditional buildings requiring eco-restoration represent 1/3 of the European building stock. Beyond energy, CO2 and costs savings, significant positive employments effects can be achieved thanks to an ambitious programme of thermal renovation (direct employment in construction and in the supply chain).

How can we develop eco-restoration?

The development of eco-restoration will not occur if economic actors are not strongly supported to carry out this change by looking for new market and job opportunities.  In many cases, local building markets hardly meet these new technical requirements and an entire part of the building sector needs to get structured.  There is obviously a need for developing know-how and local business sectors.  Mobilizing a network of actors, identifying opportunities for the local economy, taking part in structuring the eco-restoration market and stimulating demand are the priority objectives of the LINKS project.