Developing into a smart city: a new outfit for social housing in Bolzano

Over the next three years, the City of Bolzano and the Institute for social housing (IPES) will renovate 12 buildings in the Don Bosco and Oltrisarco-Aslago districts. A total of 422 social housing apartments from the 1950s-1990s covering a surface area of approximately 37,000 m² will be renovated to consume less energy and improve the comfort of their tenants, but also to enhance the neighbourhoods where they are located. The goal is to reduce the demand for primary energy by 40% – 50% and increase the use of heat and electricity produced from renewable sources by 20%. The project works include renovation of the building’s envelope, installation of power plants running on renewable energy sources to supply the building’s demand, new windows and doors and a mechanically controlled ventilation system.


A key step in the road that will lead Bolzano to become a smart city is the energy efficiency refurbishment of its social housing. The refurbishments will have a different schedule, specifically tailored to the individual requirements of each apartment building, so as to cause the least possible disturbance to tenants, who will have the comfortable option of staying in their apartments during the renovation works. "We plan to refirbish the energy efficiency and architectural layout of 9 buildings located in Via Aslago, via Parma and via Passeggiata dei Castani. We chose building complexes that had an urgent need for renovation works", explains Emanuele Sascor of the City of Bolzano. "A total of 219 apartments that over the next 3 years will undergo renovation to reduce energy consumption and increase the use of energy from renewable sources". A thermal solar power plant and a PV plant will be installed on the buildings in via Passeggiata dei Castani, using a mixed heating system consisting of 12 or 14 geo-thermal probes with built-in boiler. 14 new apartments will be built in via Aslago, adding a floor to the building by means of a wooden structure. In response to requests from tenants, elevators and new balconies will also be installed. Finally, the building will be equipped with a boiler fuelled with biomass pellets and an independent mechanical ventilation system for each apartment. The 3 buildings in via Parma will be connected to the remote heating network and here too, 16 new apartments will be built by adding a floor and new balconies. The goal is to significantly reduce the buildings’ primary energy requirements. "The buildings in via Aslago, for example, which have a total of 70 apartments, will decrease from an estimated annual consumption of 228 kWh/m2 for heating and domestic hot water to an annual consumption of 21 kWh/m2 that will also cover lighting and ventilation needs", says Emanuele Sascor.


Another 3 building complexes owned by IPES will also be renovated in terms of their energy efficiency and architectural layout. The buildings are located in via Cagliari, via Similaun and via Palermo. "In total, we plan to renovate 203 apartments and build 10 new apartments from recovering the attic floor in the building complex in via Brescia/via Cagliari. The outer facades will be renovated to improve the buildings’ insulation. "In some cases we will use prefabricated building blocks to reduce construction times and the inconvenience to tenants, "says IPES President Heiner Schweigkofler. Other works will involve the interior of individual apartments, such as replacement of the windows and doors and improvements to the ventilation system. The cost of upgrading the building’s energy efficiency, which will requalify them as CasaClima class A, i.e. in other words fully compliant with the NZEB (near-zero energy buildings), the European standard of the future, is about 45,000 € per apartment.


"The SINFONIA project is a clear example of how research has a strong impact on everyday reality," says Wolfram Sparber, an EURAC energy expert. "We are seeing with our own eyes how applied research translates into tangible actions that renovate a city, with a focus on energy consumption and the use of renewable energy sources, but also in terms of the architectural layout". SINFONIA is a project co-funded by the European Union with 25 European members. Bolzano is one of the project’s two pilot cities (along with Innsbruck) and will be the focus of a series of renovation works that will concern three main aspects: energy efficiency upgrading of social housing, efficiency upgrading of the remote heating system and the installation of so-called smart points capable of monitoring climate, air quality and traffic, which will also allow citizens to recharge their electric vehicles and access several other services. "The activities we are developing will help give a positive image of Bolzano at a European level. The image of a city that is hard at work to become a smart city", explains Daniele Vettorato, an EURAC smart cities expert and scientific coordinator of the project works in Bolzano. In fact, within the SINFONIA project a consortium of cities has been formed to observe the practices and works carried out in Bolzano. These cities are ready to take the same road toward the reduction of energy consumption in which the South Tyrolean capital is leading the way. "Bolzano appears as an innovative city, a city that changes and that experiments with the application of new technologies and methods that may be of interest to other cities in Europe", said Vettorato.


The local partners of SINFONIA are EURAC, the City of Bolzano, IPES, Alperia, Agenzia per l’Energia Alto Adige - CasaClima and IDM Südtirol-Alto Adige (the latter as a third party of the City).


Video footage of the works included in the SINFONIA project are available on the EURAC website and on Youtube at:



Bolzano, 30.06.2016


Contact info: Giovanni Blandino,, tel. (+39) 047-1055054