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Old Houses to Be Renovated

Shanghai will improve the insulation in old villas and lane house to make them more energy efficient of the next several years, a construction expert said yesterday.

A boy signs his name yesterday on an information board that promotes the idea of saving energy at the Xiling Residential Area in Shanghai. The city is organizing various activities to encourage local families to be more energy efficient.

The government will subsidize the work, but tenants and landlords will have to pay for some of the improvements.

"Our goal is to make the tenants of old houses in Shanghai feel more comfortable and pay smaller electricity bills," said Cao Yiran, head of the energy-efficiency department at the Shanghai Research Institute of Building Sciences.

He said the project is part of municipal efforts to protect heritage buildings and improve the living conditions of tenants.

The renovations will be conducted on most villas and shikumen houses built in the city before 1949, particularly the old villas on Sinan Road and in Huangpu District near the Huangpu River.

The project is expected to cost around 80 yuan (US$9.88) per square meter. The buildings' exterior walls, roofs, window frames and curtains will all be renovated.

"Normally, after such renovations, power consumption will drop by around 25 percent," said Cao.

Construction workers will add insulation to exterior walls and roofs, and seal window frames to prevent heat loss in the winter. A layer of insulation material will also be pasted to the curtains in the old houses.

The city government recently placed all of the old houses built before 1949 under municipal protection. Such buildings cover 12.18 million square meters in the city.

More than 90 percent of those old houses are located in downtown areas, such as Huangpu, Jing'an, Luwan, Xuhui and Hongkou districts.

And about half of the old buildings are along residential lanes, mostly shikumen houses - a form of row houses that were built exclusively in Shanghai during the late 19th century and early 20th century.

Experts said most of the old shikumen houses need immediate renovations since they have been "packed" by too many tenants for decades.

"Conducting energy-efficient renovation will lengthen the longevity of those houses," said Chen Youhua of the Shanghai Urban Planning Administrative Bureau.

(Shanghai Daily August 30, 2005)

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