MED-ENEC - Energy Efficiency in the Construction Sector in the Mediterranean


External cooperation programmes - European Commission

Pilot Project Syria

Five story apartment block with 30 apartments, part of the New Youth Residential Complex consisting of 18 buildings with 12,600 flats in total, situated north west of Damascus in the Kudsia Suburbs.

The apartment block has a total floor space of 480 m²; passive building design measures and solar energy are used to improve energy efficiency.


General Company for Engineering Studies and Consulting (GCEC)


General Institute for Housing (GIH)


National Energy Research Centre (NERC)



PP Syria


In 1998, GCEC did a research called "Towards Better Climatic Responses in Architecture and Urban Design" examining the comfort in houses of Old Damascus and comparing it to ordinary "modern" houses. The results persuaded the team to promote the advantages of the old traditional ways of building in Old Damascus and to rediscover design measures already implemented in the past.

The overall energy concept is based on passive building design measures combined with new energy efficient technologies and the use of renewable energies.


Compared to a conventional building, the total primary energy consumption of the pilot project is reduced by over 60%. Due to the 35% higher investment costs, however, the project is economically not feasible. Only concentrating on the most cost efficient measures brings the payback time down to around 10 years.


Main technical features of the Pilot Project

The role of passive solar design has been maximized to limit as much as possible the use of active solar systems.

Basic measures with high / moderate cost efficiency

  • enhanced insulation of the building envelope and the roof
  • double glazing
  • PVC shutters for the windows
  • shading of the windows and the building by surrounding trees
  • glazed stairwells to enhance natural cross ventilation due to solar chimney effect
  • solar water heating
  • energy efficient lighting

Additional demonstration measures

  • solar assisted floor heating (25% solar thermal, 75% fuel)

Main results of the Pilot Project

The pilot project reduces the energy consumption by 63%, compared to a conventional building, due to passive measures and the use of solar thermal energy for space and water heating.

The incremental costs for the pilot project are rather high with nearly 35%, the pay-back for the realized measures is hardly attractive. Major reasons are

  • unavailability of cheap insulation products on the national market
  • lack of know-how for identifying and applying appropriate energy saving technologies and products
  • low cost-efficiency of solar space heating
  • subsidized energy-prices.

The replicable solution has been based on learning and scale effects in a large building program and on skipping the more expensive measures. This brings the pay-back period down to 10 years.

Graph 1:


When realizing this "replicable solution", significant additional benefits for the country in form of reduced energy subsidies arise. Considering these benefits, the State may have an interest in subsidising this type of building, increasing thus the pay-back. (graph 2)

Graph 2:


Supporting material

Download PP Poster Syria here.

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