Bioclimatic houses win ground

They don’t look very different from ordinary modern houses but they operate very differently. By collecting and storing solar heat and utilizing air currents, bioclimatic houses don’t need air conditioning because they stay cool in summer and warm in winter without consuming energy. Bioclimatic houses are becoming more popular in Greece. Architect Tania Toyaidou-Vardoulaki, who specializes in bioclimatic buildings, told Kathimerini how these houses take into account «the environment, climate and microclimate of the area.» Environmentalist Dimitris Georgas has a bioclimatic house in Spata. «The children go barefoot in the house, summer and winter,» says Georgas. «The house has a stable temperature range, never going below 18 degrees Celsius or above 28.» Facing the sun Designing and building such a house isn’t easy. Siting the house on the block is important, as Toyaidou-Vardoulaki explains. «This is a house that has to face the sun, and we try to store all the solar heat that enters it. We make the largest surfaces face south. These are passive solar houses that don’t use air-conditioning units. Essentially they comprise one big space, without partitions, so that the flow of air is unimpeded. The cost of building a bioclimatic house is 7-10 percent higher than an ordinary house of the same size. Naturally, it soon pays off because there is minimal expenditure on oil for heating (there are heaters for use in exceptional circumstances or weather) and there are no air conditioners. «The house is comfortable and airy; it’s very pleasant,» says Georgas. «Light floods into the room; there’s a lovely atmosphere.» Residents have to contribute to the operation of bioclimatic houses. «In the morning we have to open the curtains so the sun comes in and heats the floor; in the evening we draw them to prevent heat loss. From May to October we have to open the little windows situated high in the walls to create air currents and so on.» What about bioclimatic apartments? As Toyaidou-Vardoulaki says, you can’t perform miracles in an apartment in an existing building, but small changes can be made to stop them from boiling in summer and freezing in winter. «Final decisions will be strictly within the framework established by the new constitutional provisions and based on the need to protect the public interest and the development of forestry eco-systems,» it said in an announcement. However, it appears that it is not only the protection of the environment but the political cost that will determine the date the bill is tabled as well as its content.