Historic Cities and Sustainability
Edited by: Maurizio De Vita, University of Florence
The challenge posed by sustainable development is to reconcile a dynamic economy and a society that provides opportunities to all its members, with increased resource productivity, increased competitiveness of the region and total environmental sustainability.
It is possible to enhance Tuscany’s assets and improve the quality oflife, use fewer raw materials and less energy, produce less waste and reduce waste contamination and pollution levels by constantly striving to increase ecological efficiency. the various activities associated with ecological efficiency can create wealth and provide employment.
A better future for Italy and for Tuscany depends to a great extent on our ability to respond to the great energy-environmental challenges, to the risks of climate change and to the structural increase in the price of crude oil and other fossil fuels. in-depth measures are required to increase energy efficiency and accelerate the development of alternative renewable energy sources. this is a difficult challenge especially at a time when slow Gdp growth means there is less public and private investment and investors prefer short-term returns that come from the exploitation of environmental and territorial resources. these investments threaten the quality of our territory and deplete our resources.
It is far more difficult to increase the energy efficiency of existing buildings, especially if they are historic buildings, than it is to ensure that new ones have the requisite characteristics so most studies, technical consultations and public incentives organized by the Tuscany region concentrate on existing buildings. Every new building, however well designed, is an extra burden, albeit a limited one, for the environment. a real reduction in energy consumption can only be obtained by increasing the energy efficiency of existing buildings.
It has to be said that increasing the energy efficiency of existing buildings is more complex, more expensive and sometimes less effective than when energy saving measures are part of a new construction project. This means that even when maintenance work is carried out measures for increasing energy efficency are often not implemented.
It should be remembered that increasing a building’s energy efficency not only reduces energy consumption and cO2 emissions but it also reduces other polluting emissions, reduces heating costs, improves the conservation of the building and raises its level of comfort.