SARA aimed to construct six sustainable, cost effective, high energy performance, public-access eco-buildings that are immediately replicable at large scale in many locations and demonstrate the cost-effective potential for improving the energy performance of Europe’s buildings. The project officially started in June 2004 and finished successfully in May 2008 (see News section).
SARA has constructed sustainable, cost effective, high energy performance, public-access eco-buildings, replicable at large scale in many locations. The eco-buildings are equipped with advanced sustainable energy technologies integrated by an innovative architectural approach and combined monitoring and building management systems, BMS.
SARA involves the demonstration of 6 highly sustainable and replicable Public-access buildings in 5 EC Member States (France, Italy, Slovenia, Spain and the UK) and 1 New Independent State (Uzbekistan). An important German research centre is also involved. In total there are 14 participants in the project.
The key aspects of the project are public-access, innovative yet cost effective and replicable results, consideration of end users and an interdisciplinary team working on various RTD activities, applied across various climatic regions produce large scale social, urban and environmental benefits. The project contributes to future development of European energy policy and legislation to accelerate market penetration of innovative sustainable technologies.
The demonstration sites include integrated project planning, active and passive solar design, low energy construction, including sustainable materials and components and including renewable energy technology and building energy management systems.
The buildings surpass the energy performance requirements demanded by the recent European Directive on Energy Consumption in Buildings. The project has demonstrated that energy savings of 10 - 40% (depending on the building) can be achieved with overcosts of less than 10% compared to conventional public buildings in each country. The overcosts in each building are due to the use of more environmentally sustainable architectural practices and techniques, energy efficient installations, use of renewable energy sources, and automated energy management systems. All of these innovations are market ready and replicable in other buildings. The simple payback period for the investment, based on energy savings measured so far and current energy prices, the simple payback time on the investment in energy innovation is in the range 8-27 years (depending on the building). These performance figures are expected to increase over time for two reasons. Firstly, because the performance monitoring has identified scope for optimisation of building energy systems operation in all buildings and this will lead to further energy savings. Secondly because energy prices are rising and this will reduce the payback period for the investments.
SARA is implementing interdisciplinary, integrated, sustainable energy actions on a Europe-wide scale and the results have been monitored and disseminated in order to contribute to future similar actions through replicability, promoting energy sustainability in buildings. The replicability of the Eco-buildings is being promoted by facilitating useful information from the SARA experience to the main market actors through particular SARA initiatives and through common activities in collaboration with the other "Ecobuildings" contracts of the EC.