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ETHOS building: social housing with a high energy efficiency level

Highlighted Case May 2016
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ETHOS is a medium sized building having a very low annual energy consumption and is suitable for a targeted audience of families with modest financial resources.  It represents a test pilot for real estate projects within the entire territory.

This building is located in the town of Alba (CN) and forms part of a newly developed estate in PRGC 4.4 C.  This estate constitutes a new neighborhood (78.437 square meters) in the city which is still under construction. Upon completion, this district will have 500 new housing units, a retail area of ​​5000 square meters (yet to be fully implemented) and an area of ​​8000 square meters of Tertiary Industry. The real estate initiative is representative of the socio-economic progress in the area surrounding Alba.


The ETHOS building is the first social housing intervention in the Piemonte Region and the Municipality of Alba (Comune di Alba).  At the present time, 38 housing units have been launched.  The low rental price will be respected for 13 years. (

Ethos has also been certified in Class A CasaClima and has a primary energy need of 9,8 kWh/m2.year.  The energy concept lends to the maximization of energy savings in all the operating spaces of the building.

The building has been designed with specific materials and technologies in order to obtain savings in energy needs in comparison with standard constructions.  Sustainable design has also been applied in order to contribute to a further protection of the environment.




High energy efficiency features


-The external wall façade greatly reduces the thermal losses. This is due to the choice and thickness of materials used for insulation, and importantly, in the consideration of a complete elimination of thermal bridges in order to avoid condensation and mold on the inside, heated areas.

-PVC windows and doors with triple glazing ensure an excellent performance of thermal insulation and acoustic profiles.

-The main heating and cooling system uses geothermal energy which drastically decreases the CO2 emissions and dependence on fossil fuel consumption.

-Domestic hot water production based on solar thermal energy panels installed on the roof.

-Photovoltaic system designed for covering the needs of thermal energy during the winter.

-Installation, maintenance, management, verification of results and monitoring are carried out in order to ensure the functioning of the facilities and fixed running costs so there will be no surprises.




Viale Masera 52-54-56-58 (blue roofs), 12051 Alba (Cuneo, Piemonte, Italia)



Project team


Project management, main contractor and owner: Comiato Regionale per le Comunicazioni del Piemonte – CORECOM Srl.

Architecture design: Isola Architetti Srl. – Arch. Aimaro Oreglia d'Isola

Constructor and promoter: Franco Barberis – Impresa Costruzioni S.p.A.

Installation, maintenance and monitoring of energy systems: Albaenergia Srl.

Social housing management: Housing Association “Giuseppe Di Vittorio” and Municipality of Alba (Comune di Alba)

External consultant: Cremonesi Consulting Ltd.



Time schedule


Design: 2009

Construction: 2011-2015

Delivery: September 2015



Building use and area


Ethos is a new residential five storey construction for social housing with an attic and basement for parking and storage. It is comprised of 50 dwellings of different sizes:

-apartment with kitchenette and living room, bedroom and bathroom (approximately 57 m2)

-two bedroom apartment with living room, kitchenette and bathroom (approximately 88 m2)

-three bedroom apartment with living room, kitchen and bathroom (approximately 130 m2)


The basement contains 50 individual storage rooms and 69 parking areas. The long side of the façades are divided and marked on one side by external stairwells and, on the other side, by balconies. Both use a metal structure and are free of thermal bridges.


Total Usable Floor Area: 4.539 m²



Construction costs


Global construction cost (including VAT and other taxes):  6,127,650 €  

The basement (parking and storage), urban sewage and thermal energy network are not included.


Global cost per m2: 1,350 €/m2


Global cost per dwelling (50 in total): 122,553 €


Renewable energy systems cost: 140,000 €


This construction has been executed thanks to the financing of Fondo Abitare Sostenibile Piemonte, investment made from banking Foundations of the Piemonte Region and Cassa Depositi e Prestiti Investimenti (managed by InvestireSGR SpA).


The contract with tenants has a duration of 13 years.  After the contract expires, the renter has the right of preemptive purchase, and therefore, if interested, may purchase the housing unit.



Envelope performance


U-value average = 0, 28 W/m2.K


The external walls above ground are cavity-walls of variable thickness from 50 to 55 cm with an external finishing of split colored concrete blocks (Poroton) with lighter color contrast of inner cement. The insulation consists of fiberglass panels from 18 to 28 cm (λ = 0.036 W/m2.K) and has a 10 cm glued layer of polyurethane (λ = 0.024 W/m2.K) in the potential case of possible thermal bridges on RC structures (floors and columns).


Regarding the façade add-ons (balconies and stairwells), a thermal insulation system known as Thermal Protection System Integral STO Therm has been applied between the floors of the balconies and terraces.


The attic floor has been additionally protected with a layer of 12 cm STIFERITE GT24, on a slab of concrete about 6 cm thick.


The PVC window profile is 80 mm thick with triple-glass (4be/16Argon/3/1F/3) and an exterior horizontal sunshading . Both ensure an exceptional thermal and acoustic insulation.


Air Tightness Value: 0,35



Energy consumption


Primary Energy Need: 9,83 kWh PE/m2.year


Primary Energy Need for standard building: 86,85 kWh PE/m2.year


Calculation method: UNI TS 11300



Energy systems


A centralized heating system has been designed according to the heat expenses for each dwelling and photovoltaic system contribution. The building is provided with the most modern technologies to grant all comforts.


Heating system: Geothermal heat pump, Low temperature floor heating

Hot water system: Heat pump

Cooling system: Reversible heat pump, Floor cooling

Ventilation system: Double flow heat exchanger

Renewable systems: Solar photovoltaic, Solar Thermal, Heat pump (geothermal)


GHG in use (CasaClima method): 4,00 KgCO2/m2/year



Awards and recognition


Casa Ethos has been awarded with recognition of the Piedmont Region as a best practice study case in the energy area.



Additional information


Building description:





Lessons learnt

n/a at present time

Award labels


Additional documents

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