In order that protected areas and their actions become a good example of environmental sustainability, they must actively approach towards the projects which involve ecological construction.
The demand for energy, regarding housing is becoming more and more important. Fossile energy will become rare end rare, until it will completely disappear. Alternatives to usual methods exist in ecological construction, such as low energy and passive housing.
What is ecological construction?
Ecological construction is a process, which goal is to assure, from planning to its actual use, minimal environmental impact to the environment. It is focused on the use of local and renewable materials (such as stone, wood and soil). Ecological construction copes with global environmental challenges and needs of local residents. New environmentally friendly buildings assure low energy consumption, and favorites the use of natural elements and energy.
Not all ecological constructions are the same. There are different types of ecological buildings, depending how energy efficient they are.
In the following diagram, that shows energy efficiency of various standards of ecological construction you can see what kind of efficiency they achieve. The amounts are shown in energy index – the energy which is needed for heating a building. It is shown in kilowatt-hours per square meter of surface per year (kWh/m2a). This index is commonly used to evaluate the overall energy efficiency. To learn more about specific ecological construction, click on the standard you are interested in.
To learn more about specific ecological construction, click on the standard you are interested in:
What is ecological construction in the Carpathians?
In the second half of the 20th century, the concept of construction changed dramatically. As industrial production grew rapidly, standard of living rose. Iron and cement replaced timber as construction material, oil and gas became the main sources of energy. That happened mainly due to easy accessibility of energy resources and its low cost. Through time, as demands for resources grow, its price began to raise skywards. Considering also the negative environmental impact of its use, changes must occur.
Constructing an ecological building in the Carpathians, means return to tradition, and using the material that is here, available, renewable and ecological. Traditional building element – wood – has since early settlements always been a representative icon of the Carpathian arc. An environmental construction includes traditional material, knowhow of today for sustainable tomorrow.
Why protected areas need ecological construction?
Protected areas are dealing with the interaction between the man and the nature. Sustainable development is coping with exactly the same issues, through research towards harmony between a man and natural environment.
Inside protected areas, there is a lot of infrastructure, touristic and settlements of local residents. As it is well known that protected areas will have to cope with yearly increase of tourists, a demand for new, and renovation of existing infrastructure, is very important.
Ecological construction has two goals; preservation and further development of cultural heritage of Carpathian space, and better energy efficiency of existing and new infrastructure.
Special focus should be given to the mountain infrastructure, especially mountain huts. With mountain tourism on the rise, they will be exposed to increased number of visitors. That will raise their energy demands and problems of waste management.
The solutions to the problem, reconstruction existing and building new infrastructure should be approached individually, as it depends of the location of the building and its purpose, what kind of measurements will be taken. Regarding mountain huts, energy independence can be achieved with exploitation of solar and wind powers, alongside with lower consumption and improved isolation. Wastewater problem can be solved with modern cleaning pumps, and waste management with increased separation, but again, depends of the location.
How to achieve it?
Protected areas have an advantage of gathering know-how and presenting it to tourism industry and local population. They have also a good opportunity to develop a tool of sponsorships (possible cooperation with private sector) and government/regional subventions for ecological construction.
In case that protected area is not authorized or has no funds available for sponsorship, it can help local environment with know how or directing them to the companies/institutions who can advise them. Furthermore, if protected are has no funds, available for supporting ecological construction, it can recommend a project, containing a letter of support to the regional/national/international funding organization who can. Chances of receiving the founds with a latter of recommendation of protected area of high importance, rises the possibility of positive reply.
Protected areas that are still in the process of developing as a tourist destination can set standards of new infrastructure, and by that forcing the investors to adapt new buildings to higher energy efficient standards.
Protected areas should promote ecological construction, as it is also good promotion for the park. Also in the topic of ecological construction, there are many possibilities for international cooperation and exchange of good practices, as there are many such cases reported in the Alpine arc.
In order to get more concrete information about ecological construction, focusing on practical, already constructed buildings, as well as plans in the developing phase, this topic has to be put in priority actions of the network. But how can network help? CNPA can organize excursions with experts; find institutions who are dealing with this topic, find locations where ecological construction is reality. Result of such events would be to provide protected areas with know how and practical information that would later on be reflected in the nature conservation areas.