Comprehensive renovation of the S. José neighbourhood in Lada

Langreo, Spain Construction and Development, Environment and Resource efficiency
Responsible Housing Award



The neighbourhood of San José, located in the municipality of Langreo-Asturias is one of the oldest in the Asturian public housing stock. It was built around the 60’, as accommodation for workers and their families of the incipient chemical and electrical industry. Currently, the profile of the tenants is mostly elderly people, over sixty, and retired.

As a result of the construction rules in the 60’ (with very poor requirements in terms of isolation and energy efficiency), buildings and dwellings were suffering important damages. Wet walls, damaged windows, a mix of heating systems through carbon and gas, etc, were some of the most critical problems, with a very negative impact on health, and the economy (e.g. in order to heat the dwellings, tenants had to plug in many heaters) and comfort.

In 2018, VIPASA (the public company that manages public and social dwellings in Asturias) developed a monitoring study of hygrothermal and energy parameters in nine dwellings in the neighbourhood of Lada. The findings, mainly in terms of temperature, humidity and CO2 levels, were decisive in order to start with the project design and seek appropriate funding.

After negotiations with the Minister of ecological transition, and while the project was being designed, specific funds were allocated in the framework of the decarbonization programmes. At the same time, a specific budget from the Regional Minister of social rights and welfare in Asturias was also allocated for this initiative, including not only energy efficiency but also accessibility.

A presentation of the Project was held with all the tenants and the city council of Langreo, in the middle of 2019. At the same time, the project was tendered with a total budget of 7m€.

Actions carried out

  • Application of an outdoor thermal insulation system on all facades and eaves.
  • Change of roofs, with improved insulation and new coverings, chimneys, and gutters, including the construction of new installation rooms
  • Change of the exterior carpentry, replacing the existing ones of different materials and interior beams, with new PVC windows with double glazing, solar protection, and argon gas positioned on exterior beams to improve thermal insulation and avoid transmission by thermal bridges. Taking advantage of the opening generated by the interior, a new shutter was installed to maintain the possibility of darkening the openings.
  • Complete air renewal system with a high-performance heat recovery system, with the possibility of recovering up to 95% of the heat from the air extracted in the dwellings.
  • Modification of the domestic hot water installation by means of heat pumps located in the new installation rooms on the roofs. Taking advantage of the performance of the heat pump, a water coil was placed inside the installation room to distribute a pipe to the air renewal equipment on each floor.
  • Treatment of capillary and condensation humidity problems. The affected walls were chipped and aerating and waterproofing mortars were applied and treated with special siloxane paints.
  • A series of ramps and walkways were made through the interior courtyards of each block.
  • Work was carried out inside the first-floor dwellings to eliminate the step in the bathroom, level the showers, and widen the width of the doors.
  • In each dwelling, one of the windows facing the backyard was modified, widening the opening to the floor for access from the ramps. The same operation was carried out on the upper floors, with a view to possible future intervention by means of elevators located in the courtyard.


After the renovation project, the neighbourhood looks renovated, bright and the quality of life of tenants has improved substantially, mainly in terms of comfort and accessibility of the dwellings.

The action carried out improves the energy efficiency of the buildings, which implies a significant environmental improvement with great influence on its surroundings, since CO2 emissions into the atmosphere are reduced along with the consumption of non-renewable primary energy in the whole neighbourhood. This is because the energy demand of the buildings for optimal comfort in the dwellings was considerably reduced. According to the evaluation, the improvement in non-renewable primary energy consumption is 59.9%, the improvement in heating energy demand is 51.3% and the improvement in CO2 emissions is 61.6%.

This means great economic savings for tenants since the production of hot water becomes much more efficient and the need for heating is very limited. About 1 200 euro per year per dwelling is the estimated saving.

Why it works


The project consists of improving the building envelope, incorporating a double-flow ventilation system with a heat recovery system to ensure the quality of the air inside the dwellings and allow savings in heating, as well as installing a central aerothermal system in each doorway to obtain domestic hot water.


During the execution of the project, intensive work was carried out to raise awareness among residents of the importance of energy efficiency and the impact that the proper use of buildings has on sustainability. The first-hand experience of the comfort achieved by neighbours with very different profiles has led them to take on this responsibility as their own and to pass it on to others. More than 50 meetings with tenants in every building were held, with the participation of the subcontracted companies, the General Directorate of Housing, VIPASA, city council, and community services providers.


Another of the objectives achieved, which represents an innovation in the way of undertaking this type of intervention, is to carry out the work without interrupting the use of the inhabitants of the dwellings. This will allow the model to be replicated in other buildings more easily and at a lower cost.

Tools used

  • For the reception of the work, “check sheets” were generated to facilitate the correct supervision of the work carried out by all the agents involved. These cards also gave the tenants the opportunity to express their conformity with the work carried out.
  • Tenants were informed by means of a summary of the consumption that the new installations imply in their daily life, analysing the breakdown of the savings achieved.
  • Within the training carried out with the neighbours, special attention was paid to the specific measures for the use of the dwelling in relation to the outside temperature.



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