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Case Study: nZEC - New construction of 8 dwellings in Via Nuova, Montelupo Fiorentino, Italy (UNDER MONITORING)

Name of organisation: Publicasa s.p.a.

Stage of development: completed

Year of finalization: 2013

Type of project: construction

Area: urban

Scale: individual buildings

Type of building: Apartment in a block of five or less stories

Number of units/dwellings: 8

Tenure: social rental

Street: Via Nuova 9

Postcode: 50056

City: Montelupo Fiorentino

Region/ County: Toscana

Country: Italy

Last Update: 20.04.2015

Funding Project Management Certification Monitoring Partnership Working Work with Residents Capacity Building Thermal Insulation Windows and Shading Heating and Hot Water Ventilation Solar Photovoltaic

Short Description

Montelupo Ex Cinema Excelsior consists in the demolition and new building of a former theatre, built at the beginning of the XX century and already subject to a refurbishment in the Fifties. In the last decades the theatre (mostly for movies) closed and no more used. The Municipality of Montelupo Fiorentino (the owner) decided to use this old building for social housing, and supported the intention to experiment innovative solutions for decreasing energy consumption and choosing eco compatible materials.

Funding was totally given by Regione Toscana, because the apartments are reserved for subsidized housing (edilizia sovvenzionata). The project represents the first case of social housing in Tuscany to use geothermal heat pump combined to photovoltaic, in order to achieve a near zero energy consumption. It’s realized with the use of wood-concrete blocks, because they’re partially natural material and because they allow to have a light construction site, and very short time of construction, which was essential for operating in the historical centre.

Technical aspects: “U”Shaped building, max dimensions 25.00 m x13, 80x9, 70. On the ground floor there are garages, cellars (one per apartment) and the technical rooms condominium. The first and second floor are made up of 4 apartments per floor, 48 square meters (No. 4) and 56 sqm (4). Access is via the staircase and the elevator. The roof is flat and holds photovoltaic panels. The structure consists of bored pile foundations, slabs, brick and concrete walls and elevation in blocks of wood-cement panels with EPS thermal insulation. Windows are mostly exposed to the north-east. The thickness of the insulation in EPS formwork and within blocks of 9 cm, covered with 4 cm of mineralized wood. The floors on the first floor and roof are covered with PUR (insulation board composed of EPS, polyurethane and waterproof layer, with a thickness of 5 cm and 12 cm, ), respectively. The central heating system is at low temperature with radiant panels. The source of production of the heat required to feed the heating system and the hot water is a geothermal heat pump with probes that arrive at a depth of 100 m. The photovoltaic plant has an output of 19 kWp.

Key Elements


A+ (according to Decreto Legislativo n. 192/2005) - Near Zero Energy Building.

Project Management

Since it was an experimentation, Publicasa dedicated specific resources to:

  1. Improve its expertise as far as geothermal power and its combination with photovoltaic 
  2. Increase its general knowledge about nearly zero energy buildings, also through EU best practices
  3. Elaborat a communication strategy able to inform about the benefits of NZEB, to involve citizens, residents and various interested subjects;
  4. Build up an informal network of stakeholders, interested in increasing the attention on the issue and exchanging information and knowledge
  5. Involve public administrations in order to inform them about the benefits of NZEB, in environmental and economic terms.

In particular, we recall some activities linked to points 3-5:

Montelupo Ex Cinema Excelsior launched our experimentation towards a new communication strategy aiming at involving citizens and residents in order to increase their awareness of the benefits of energy saving buildings. They have been involved specifically in two activities, organised during the 2011 EU energy saving week, with the support of Regione Toscana: a meeting about social housing and the use of geothermal heat pumps and an open day on the construction site. Besides, in collaboration with the University of Florence we organise a tour on the site for the students of the course in “new technologies”.

In may 2012, the project was also presented at “Terra Futura”, yearly meeting on sustainability organised by Regione Toscana.

Publicasa made two calls for tender, for the design and the practical realization of the building. In the first one a high level of energy efficiency was requested (class A) and in the second one it was specified that proposals should use eco compatible materials.

Capacity Building

Publicasa staff was trained on geothermal heat pumps  carachteristics and management; staff was trained also on the importance of residents involvement in all phases and to monitoring and evaluation procedures.

Work with Residents

Residents, citizens and policy makers have been involved through the seminar and the open day (see above) in order to increase their awareness about the objects of Europe 2020 strategy and the benefits of NZEB.

Publicasa staff will organise quarterly meetings on energy saving issues with the residents. Furthermore, Publicasa prepared a guide for the correct use of the systems and for general energy saving advices.



Statutory approvals

€ 100,00


€ 80.000,00





Construction overall

€ 569.691,90

€ 427.842,51

€ 997.534,41

- Prelims



€ 72.400,00

- Building services



€ 174.030,00

- Low / zero carbon technologies



€ 96.000,00

- Other

€ 500,00

€ 1250,00

€ 1750,00

- Consequential costs



€ 170.000,00


€ 121.871,26


Partnership Working

Building companies were involved in the open day and in the seminar on geothermal heat pumps and their potential use in social housing.

University was involved in order do give students the opportunity to visit the site, exchanging evaluations and comments on the project.

Thermal Insulation

Wood-concrete formwork blocks with insulation with EPS of 9 cm thick, covered with 4 cm of mineralized wood.

Windows and Shading

Fixtures of monobloc with thermal insulation of the structure equal to Uf = 1.20 W / m² K, glazed low emissivity 8/9 - 18 - 8/9 with Ug = 1.10 W / m² K and Rw = 45.


Natural ventilation.

Heating and Hot Water

The central heating system is at low temperature with radiant panels. The source of production of the heat required to feed the heating system and the hot water is a geothermal heat pump with probes that arrive at a depth of 100 m.

Solar Photovoltaic



Click here to access the monitoring data on the HIVE Database!

Main Results

Energy outcomes not yet recorded.

Lessons learned

  • The project was not originally thought as nearly zero energy, and has been adapted in progress, with some difficulties in the coordination of professionals, although overcome.
  • Communication and the direct involvement of interested subject (public officers, professionals….) increased the interest on the building and helped overcoming the distrust and the prejudice generally still linked to public housing in Italy.
  • Wood-concrete blocks shown to be appropriate to realise a low impact construction site, an important feature to operate in an historical centre, as it was in this case, although they presented some unexpected extra costs.

Additional Information

Ms Anna Maria Pozzo
Federcasa - The Italian Federation of Public Housing Providers