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Revolutionising Care Homes

Diamantidion Care Home in Thessaloniki, Greece, a 2,235 m2 high-energy-consuming facility, is going net-zero!

Funded by charitable foundations, this pivotal pilot project proves that deep renovation isn't just energy-smart; it's a health, social, and climate win. The project is also a national call to action for financial schemes that support renovations for buildings hosting vulnerable citizens, promoting a healthier, greener future for all. Join us in this groundbreaking journey towards sustainability!

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The project was realised with the support of

and the technical support of

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THE CONCEPT

The project "Diamantidion Care Home in Thessaloniki, Greece",  aims to illuminate the numerous benefits of transitioning care homes to net-zero-energy buildings.

With limited government-run elderly care facilities in Greece, most care homes are managed by non-profits, reliant on residents' pensions or family contributions, as outlined in a 2018 European Social Policy Network report.

“In Greece, long-term care (including prevention and rehabilitation services) continues to be an underdeveloped policy area, given that there are no comprehensive formal long-term care services guaranteeing universal coverage. The state’s involvement is rather limited, and consequently, long-term care remains a ‘family affair’. In 2014, Greece allocated only 2% of overall health spending to long-term care, which is far lower than the EU-27 average of 15%. Long-term care is based on a mixed ‘quasi-system’ of services comprising formal (provided by public and private entities) and informal care, with primary responsibility for the financial and practical support of dependents resting firmly on the family…informal care is estimated to cover the lion’s share of the need for long-term care among the Greek population”.

 

The TIMA Charitable Foundation and INZEB lead this pioneering initiative, exemplifying the extensive advantages of greening care homes. It shows notable cost reductions in non-profit care home management, improves resident welfare, and offers economic and environmental benefits.

This pilot's success offers robust evidence and encourages the inclusion of care homes, along with other facilities for vulnerable groups like orphaned or disabled children, in national subsidy programmes. It effectively demonstrates the environmental, financial, health, and social value of sustainable practices in care settings. It highlights the broader impacts on society and underscores the importance of such initiatives in public welfare and environmental stewardship.

 

 

PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION

Initiated by the TIMA Charitable Foundation and bolstered by INZEB's pro bono expertise, this forward-thinking project ambitiously addresses the high energy demands prevalent in care homes. The chosen site for this transformative journey is the Diamantidion Care Home in Thessaloniki, Greece, a facility that spans 2,235.16 m2 and was erected between 1991 and 1992. This care home, grappling with an energy consumption of 564.40 kWh/m2, incurs significant annual costs amounting to €40,332.99, translating to €20.33 for each square meter.

The pivotal technical assessment by INZEB in March 2022 culminated in a strategic plan, marking Diamantidion as a benchmark for net-zero energy conversion in the sector. The success of a well-orchestrated fundraising campaign has laid the groundwork for the first phase of this endeavour, commencing in October 2023. This phase is dedicated to modernising the building's envelope, windows, and HVAC system, significantly curtailing energy consumption, with a target completion date of the end of February 2024.

A subsequent fundraising drive is poised to usher in the next phase: installing photovoltaic panels to achieve full energy autonomy.

In a synergistic effort, INZEB and the National Kapodistrian University of Athens' School of Medicine are conducting a pivotal five-year health impact study through anonymous surveys pre- and post-renovation, offering critical insights into the health benefits of such infrastructural enhancements.

December 2023 marked a significant milestone with a roundtable discussion organised within the frame of the EU Climate Pact, assembling 40 experts (policymakers, banks, foundations, energy, and climate experts) across various fields. This gathering underscored the critical need for dedicated financial support mechanisms for non-profit care homes, spotlighting the dual impact of such initiatives: substantial cost reductions and notable improvements in the quality of life for vulnerable populations.

 

 

THE IMPACT
The joint venture of TIMA Charitable Foundation and INZEB is transforming the Diamantidion Care Home in Thessaloniki, Greece, into a net-zero-energy facility. This key initiative aligns with European energy and climate objectives, aiming to reduce environmental impact and enhance operational efficiency in care homes.

Key Achievements and Impact

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Generation

  • The initial phase, improving the building's insulation, windows, and HVAC system, is set to markedly lower the building’s energy usage from 564.40 kWh/m².

  • Phase two, involving the installation of photovoltaic panels, aims for complete energy autonomy, enhancing the home's contribution to renewable energy.

CO2 Emissions Reduction

  • This transition to a net-zero model is anticipated to significantly cut down CO2 emissions, bolstering efforts against global climate change.

Economic Benefits

  • Enhanced energy efficiency is projected to bring considerable cost savings, easing the financial challenges faced by non-profit care home administrators.

Socio-Economic Advantages

  • The initiative showcases an improved standard of living for its elderly and vulnerable residents, creating healthier living conditions.

  • A roundtable discussion underlines the project's advocacy for financial support mechanisms for similar sustainable endeavours.

Health and Environmental Advantages

  • Early findings from the ongoing health study indicate potential enhancements in resident health following renovations.

  • The project emerges as a model for environmental responsibility in the care sector, inspiring other institutions.

 

The transformation of Diamantidion Care Home into a net-zero-energy facility exemplifies how such projects can fulfil European energy and climate objectives. It accomplishes this through energy conservation, CO2 emissions mitigation, socio-economic progress, and health benefits, showcasing the comprehensive impact of sustainable practices in the care industry.

 

ADDITIONAL INFO

Care homes in Greece, often housing 30-60 elderly residents and 15-30 staff members, are typically old buildings with inadequate insulation, leading to high energy consumption. These buildings, dependent on electricity for heating, lighting, and cooking, face escalating energy costs that burden their operational budgets and limit their service quality.

 

To address this, the "Net Zero Energy Care" pilot at Diamantidion Care Home in Thessaloniki is a pioneering initiative. The home expects to reduce its energy costs significantly by transitioning to net-zero energy consumption. This reduction not only alleviates the financial strain but also allows for the reallocation of funds towards enhancing resident care and services.

 

Furthermore, many care homes, reliant on resident pensions and donations for funding, struggle with financial sustainability. The pandemic exacerbated this challenge, with increased costs for personal protective equipment and COVID-19 tests leading to decreased donation income.

 

The Diamantidion pilot, under a contractual agreement with its donors, will reinvest the savings from reduced energy costs into improved services, such as hiring additional healthcare staff.

 

Key benefits of the "Net Zero-Care" initiative include:

 

  • Transformation of energy-intensive care homes into sustainable, energy-efficient facilities.

  • Reduced operational costs for non-profits, enabling better care for vulnerable populations.

  • Decrease in dependency on donations for operational expenses.

  • Enhancement of living standards for elderly and disabled residents.

  • Mitigation of the carbon footprint of large institutional buildings.

 

With an estimated payback period of 5-7 years, this approach demonstrates significant financial, environmental, and social benefits, making a compelling case for similar transformations in other non-profit institutions.

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