Green materials: solar panels
Solar thermal panels can convert the sun’s energy into heat, but their heating capacity is lower than that of conventional heating systems. This means they need to be combined with good insulation and floor heating systems to increase their power. Solar thermal panels can be mounted on buildings on the roof, the block’s facade or as „curtains” which can be pulled out or put away depending on the light intensity. „Solar panels not only produce green energy, but they can also replace the roof or the facade of a building,” says Lavinia Pavel, executive director at Romanian solar panel provider Solariss.

These panels include components such as borosilicate glass, which is more resistant to thermal shock than regular glass, copper, mineral wool insulation, steel and aluminium. Conventional energy savings can rise up to 30 per cent when using these panels. „If the exterior walls of the building, the ceiling and the roof are well insulated and a floor heating system is used, the energy savings can exceed 50 per cent,” says Pavel.
Solar thermal panels take the solar energy and heat the water directly or use a thermal agent to heat water in a boiler. The solar thermal panel market in Romania is underdeveloped compared to western Europe, and the prices are still high. Solar photovoltaic panels, which channel lighting and electricity from the sun to the home, are also a rarity. „The prices are still prohibitive, especially with photovoltaic panels, which is why the government should offer financial support to those who decide to buy them,” Pavel adds.
Green light for eco-buildings
This has a sliding scale of green qualities which start at green insulation and solar panelling, then take into account sewage and water, such as how much ground water in the area sees depletion. The social, infrastructural, political and economic environment are assessed. This includes what effect the building has on the local job market and how it supports local industry. Finally Oxford Management analyses the effect on the global environment, such as pollution.
„The whole sustainability supply chain should be considered,” says Hadley Barrett Oxford Management CEO. „We consider our projects more sustainable than others in the area, but this does not just mean using the latest green technology. One important aspect of sustainability is also the investment. A sustainable project allows the investor to earn a good return, which will be reinvested in the next project. Our purpose is to be sustainable in a broader sense.”
Green house collapse
The previous Government had initiated a programme called ‘The Green House’ [Casa Verde] where Romanians who invested in energy saving systems that used geothermal, solar or wind energy were granted financial support from the Ministry of the Environment’s ‘Environment Fund’. Individuals received 90 per cent of the total cost of the system, which was up to 5,860 Euro, while companies were granted up to 58,630 Euro. However the new Government had shut down this programme as we went to press, in a cost-cutting measure.

Heat pumps
Heat pumps transfer heat by circulating a refrigerent through a cycle of evaporation and condensation – like a household refrigerator. A heat pump absorbs heat from the outdoor air in the winter and rejects heat from outside in the summer.

The Diplomat
February 2009

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