Mantova, a North Italian town with around 48,000 inhabitants, is characterized by the great historic value of its buildings – Mantova’s entire old town is protected as a UNESCO heritage site since 2007. The town has been actively communicating and raising awareness among its citizens while massively investing in energy retrofits of public buildings. Its special historic features however represent a significant challenge for Mantova’s energy efficiency projects, as stringent restrictions on any renovation works performed on buildings under protection are imposed.
While this is the case for most of Mantova’s city centre, the housing stock of the surrounding areas is of more recent build mostly constructed between the 1950s and 1970s, a majority of which are multi-family homes. While these homes are not protected for their historic value, they were still built in the time before binding energy efficiency regulations were put in place.
In order to address the need for energy performance improvements in its residential sector, Mantova is initiating an energy efficiency service package for private homeowners by targeting condominiums built between 1960 and 2000, which have a good track history in paying regular expenses for the condominium retrofitting. While condominiums always pose the challenge of a high diversity of owners of the individual units with different characteristics in term of age and financial means, the advantage of the homes situated outside Mantova’s old town is that they are mostly inhabited by their owners. Consequently, there is a stronger incentive for these owners to undertake renovations, the effects of which will benefit them directly rather than just the value of the building.
In addition to the architectural constraints, the high average age of Mantova’s homeowners, a majority of which are retired people between 60 and 90 years of age, makes it more difficult for the city to incentivize them to invest their savings into retrofit works which usually take more than 10 years to pay off in terms of energy savings. Such an investment format even if very low interest loans were available, is not attractive to elderly homeowners for obvious reasons.
In this perspective, the town of Mantova is working to develop both financial and technical tools that will assist homeowners to undertake energy efficiency measures in a shorter time and with reduced costs. By setting up their One-Stop-Shop, Mantova’s ambition is to go beyond a simple energy information point structure, but rather to create a network of stakeholders and actors including the entire refurbishment chain through partnerships between the municipality and private companies operating in the construction and energy sector.
However, Mantova recognizes that the creation of such a network in itself will not be sufficient for homeowners to tackle energy efficiency renovations in a context constrained by the barriers described above and still suffering from the severe aftereffects of the financial crisis. This is why the municipality is also focused on the development of more attractive financial instruments by gathering interest for the project among national and local banks.
Through a model focused on technical expertise on the one hand, and on financial assistance on the other, the city of Mantova is working to overcome its challenges. This can be achieved by enabling swifter and efficient renovation which will cause less disruption to the resident and by flexible financing that is adapted to the circumstances of the homeowner, proposing shorter payback periods for older owners and longer periods of younger ones.
Mr Sebastiano Sali
Strategic Projects, Fundraising and International Relations
Mayor’s Office – Comune di Mantova
Via Roma 39 – 46100 Mantova – Italy
t:+39 0376 338468