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Full project title and funding programme

Full title of project: AlpHouse – Alpine building culture and ecology

Funding programme: Alpine Space Programme


Preservation of Alpine building culture, SME support and network and sustainable building

Schedule and project consortium


01.09.2009 – 31.12.2012

Project consortium


AlpHouse aimed at preserving and developing the cultural heritage of the Alpine space and optimizing the energy efficiency and overall life-cycle cost of buildings and settlements. The project contributed to understand traditional Alpine architecture and to integrate it into present-day energy efficient construction. AlpHouse helped to promote a far-seeing approach to renovations in the Alpine Space. Craftsmen, architects, planners and decision makers are supported to develop individual local solutions towards a common transnational understanding. Furthermore, the project contributed to manage a large number of pending renovations. The main philosophy of AlpHouse is that Alpine vernacular architecture teaches ecological solutions developed over generations and hence cultural heritage and ecological innovation can go together intrinsically.

The project AlpBC follows the AlpHouse project.

Problems to be addressed

The project has 3 challenges:

1. Reduction of CO2 emission to prevent climate change:

Energy-efficient housing is a considerable contribution for all countries to reach their climate goals. Especially in mountain areas with exposed climatic conditions there is a high potential for energy saving by renovating houses at the top level of energy efficiency, by using local materials and by employing regional SMEs.

2. Loss of competitiveness of regional SMEs:

SMEs, especially craft enterprises, which are the backbone of the labour market throughout the Alpine Space, are losing their competitiveness due to international competitors. Strengthening their capability requires identifying special market segments, in which they can capitalize their advantage of small-scale production, manual labour skills and close customer relations.

3. Preservation of cultural heritage:

Traditional Alpine architecture is a central factor for the attractiveness of Alpine regions. The preservation of its characteristics has to go along with an adaptation to the needs of the tenants. Old and vernacular buildings will only survive by constant use, implying a high user value in aesthetics as well as in energy efficiency.

Traditional Alpine settlement structures contain a “vernacular intelligence” in dealing with local climatic and geographic conditions in a most effective way. These traditional structures are threatened by negligence and urban sprawl. To maintain them requires analysing their inherent principles and integrating these into current planning.

AlpHouse strived to develop this growing market segment of energy-efficient and style appropriate renovation of Alpine old buildings for the regional SMEs, thereby addressing all 3 challenges in one holistic approach.


  • To increase the competiveness of regional and local SMEs in the Alpine space: Enabling them to perform top-quality renovations of Alpine old buildings, combining elements of traditional Alpine architecture with newest technology on energy-efficiency and sustainability.
  • To formulate standards for craftsmen, architects/planners and decision makers.
  • To show the feasibility of the preservation of regional styles in combination with newest technology under economic provisions.
  • Rising public awareness by all kinds of information and by events for public and for houses tenants.
  • To sensitize decision makers and to supply tools. To facilitate the implementation of standards into legal and political frameworks.
  • To increase the attractiveness of the Alps by the reduction of CO2 emissions of houses, renovation of many old buildings, preservation of traditional settlement structuresd, optimizsed house refitting regarding Alpine conditions.

Actions on low-carbon economy, energy efficiency and nZEBs

  • Survey on existing information platforms for energy efficient renovation of old buildings
  • Market research on currently available training offers in the field of energy efficient renovation of old buildings.
  • Definition, conception and organizational planning of educational/training offers for energy efficient and culturally sensitive restructuring of traditional houses.
  • Conception of info platform contents and supportive tools for energy efficient and culturally sensitive restructuring of traditional houses.
  • Coordinating and carrying out of pilot qualification modules.
  • Evaluation and optimisation of effect of renovation activities on pilot buildings and of pilot qualification modules.
  • Building strategic partnerships that guarantee a sustainable implementation and maintenance of the web based info platform and of the qualification modules beyond the funding period.
  • Drafting of recommendations for quality seal, training standards and specialization profiles for SMEs to ensure long-term sustainability of 'AlpHouse' standards

Main results

A general awareness for the topic has been raised. House that represend the Alpine building culture have been renovated. Standards have been implemented into regional policy. Recommendations for a new job profile have been made. Transnational knowledge exchange has taken place.

Outputs developed by the project


Usage of outputs

The interactive tools/maps for decision makers and the tools and standards for architects are no more used but will be further captured in the AlpBC project.

Uncovered expected needs

SMEs and freelancing experts cooperating in the project showed the need for more activities that help them to implement AlpHouse renovations. Moreover, the needs of educational service providers are proved to be more complex than foreseen. Basic questions onf training didactics and processing of contents would need further clarification and constant reflection.

Project strengths and weaknesses

Project strengths

Effective information events and good acceptanceof the project at regional and transnational level.

Project weaknesses

No long-term achievement of some results (implementation of building renovations and urban planning).

Contact and homepage

Fritz Schoefinius

Tel.: +49 89 51 19 22

Project homepage


ViSiBLE report identification of successes and common challenges of EU-funded projects (2014)