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© RIA Novosti. Roman Denisov

Green housing market

by at 25/04/2011 20:57

Following a year of wildfires and ecological disaster, Moscow may not seem like the World’s greenest city – but ecological homes are on the way.

Growing reports about dangerous construction materials such as asbestos causing severe diseases have also increased awareness about living conditions.

“At the moment absolutely green houses don’t exist in Moscow or in the surrounding areas,” said Oleg Stupenkov, general director of Miel-Investments. “No district in the city can be considered ecologically safe, but most people are starting to look closely at the ecological quality of housing.”

Green shoots

A cottage in the resort complex of Zavidovo in the Tver Region

© RIA Novosti. / Dmitry Korobeinikov

A cottage in the resort complex of Zavidovo in the Tver Region

Commercial real estate is leading the way in sustainable developments, with the Ducat Place III and Belye Sady business centres and Belaya Dacha outlet-centre scheduled for completion this year.

“By international standards, sustainable buildings should be in a green area away from production plants, agriculture works and car parks,” said Anna Levitova, managing partner of Evans. “The house should be approached by bicycle or by public transport and have good social infrastructure nearby.”

There are two international certificates on green development – the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM).

Belye Sady, now being built on Lesnaya Ulitsa, has passed the BREEAM assessment, while the Oruzheiny business centre on the Garden Ring was one of the first to be built to LEED’s standards using energy-efficient glass, insulation and natural lighting.

And the World Wildlife Federation is also looking to take the lead, building its ecologically friendly “Panda House” office in Moscow. The project won the inaugural Green Award for sustainable development last September.

Carbon footprint

New features can cut carbon by preventing energy waste

© RIA Novosti. / Alexey Ditjakyn

New features can cut carbon by preventing energy waste

The technologies to make sustainable houses that cut down on energy use are finally arriving in Russia.

Currently it is mostly town houses and country cottages cutting their carbon footprint, with building costs running 20 per cent to 30 per cent higher.

The Green Balance house in Nazaryevo in the Moscow region has cut energy use for heating, air conditioning and hot water by 60 per cent compared to the average cottage. The architects say it will save the owners 32,000 roubles a year.

“Houses that have energy-saving technologies, better heating insulation and other green measures can lead to a saving of up to 45 per cent on energy costs,” said Vladimir Chuprov, head of the energy department at Greenpeace Russia.

Eco-friendly houses tend to vary in cost from 2-3 million roubles, but smart-house projects with more features can run to much more.

“In order to save energy the whole house should be built for this purpose, with heating and ventilation systems connected,” said Dmitry Solomonov, head of the committee on ecology and energy-efficiency at the Guild of Managing Directors. “It’s not good enough just to buy good windows and energy saving light bulbs.”

But with rising utility prices that the government has promised to liberalise, the mark-up on sustainable living is coming down.

“Some 90 per cent of new cottagehouse villages use meters, and blocks of flats will install them as well, so the need for water and energy saving will become much greater,” said Stupenkov.

Party projects

A lawn on the roof of a building on Novy Arbat

© RIA Novosti. / Sergey Pyatakov

A lawn on the roof of a building on Novy Arbat

From 2013 all new buildings will have to conform to a government decree on ecological standards.

In the Nikulino-2 district there are already two 17-storey blocks with a special system of heating pumps which uses the heat from the ventilation and the ground.

The local government has recently launched a project on house construction, aiming to build experimental energy-saving districts in Moscow by 2014. At least two regions of 200,000 square metres will be built to try new ecological construction technologies and measuring devices.

“The first energy-efficient area will be built in the Timiryazevsky district in the North of the city by 2013-2014,” said Levitova. “The apartment blocks will save 25 per cent due to better insulation and the modernization of heating and ventilation systems.”

In June 2012 a premium block of flats at Barkli Park will be built on 42,000 metres of land on Ulitsa Sovetskoi Armii near Yekaterininsky Park.

Its designer, Fillip Starck, focused on the ecology and economy of resources in the landscape design, the lighting of entrances and halls, sewage cleaning systems and storm water systems. The inhabitants will also have their own sports facilities and entrance to the park.

Lack of plants

An zero-carbon house in the Moscow suburbs

© Photo / Courtesy of AEnergy construction company

An zero-carbon house in the Moscow suburbs

Recycling remains a major problem for Russia, and experiments in some areas on waste collection had little success.

“The experiment with selective bins we had in some districts failed,” said Anna Khitrova, a spokeswoman for the Nature Management and Environmental Protection Department of the Moscow Duma. “People didn’t pay attention to the signs, but the main problem was that we don’t have any recycling plants. Building them should be the first step.”

The government plans to construct eco-techno parks in the Moscow region close to the capital where the plants will be built.

Ecological watchdogs also say that a new Federal Law will bring about a more systematic approach to the problem, while Skolkovo has launched a course on ecological development.

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