Energy refurbishment

1.What is the composition of Ticino’s real estate stock?

A large part of the real estate in Ticino was built between the end of the 1960s and the end of the 1970s. At that time building techniques were rather simplified and the need to limit energy consumption was not at all a problem. These buildings have also reached the limit of the life cycle of the elements they are made of, and in addition to technical problems, they also have problems of image and inadequacy to current standards.

2.When can owners start having problems and what are the consequences?

Problems for landlords start to be perceived when the users of their properties show their discomfort by asking for rent reductions or even worse by sending cancellations of their rental contracts.

The reasons for this action are always linked

  • to excessive ancillary costs
  • a lack of comfort
  • questions of prestige.

The consequences for landlords are therefore mainly related to:

  • to a consistent reduction in income;
  • an increasing difficulty in finding new tenants;
  • having to bear the ancillary costs of vacant space;
  • increasing maintenance costs.

3.How to prevent this problem?

In order to deal with these situations, or better still, to prevent them, it is advisable to plan a renovation project, which nowadays we are accustomed to defining as energy renovation, but which in reality goes well beyond the reduction of consumption, which is not negligible, allowing a new life cycle to be started for the buildings.

4.Which types of intervention offer the best performance?

The interventions that give the best results in terms of consumption, comfort and image are those related to the building envelope:

  • roof;
  • facades and windows.

The optimisation of this first step is the combination with interventions to replace the plant, both for heating and cooling.

5.When does it make sense to renovate and when is it appropriate to rebuild?

It can only be considered necessary to rebuild if:

  • The exploitation of the land, the value of which has risen exponentially in the last 50 years, is not adequate;
  • The internal typology of the areas is ill-conceived and largely outdated (too small rooms, lack of services, etc.);
  • The destination is no longer appropriate to the area and, consequently, to urban development.

If the above conditions are not met, it is reasonable to opt for renovation, which can also be planned in stages. Paradoxically, many of the buildings constructed in the period mentioned above, prior to the introduction of the land-use plan, make much greater use of the land than would be possible today and therefore their demolition is not rational.

A second advantage of carrying out a shell renovation is that, if properly planned, it can be done without emptying the buildings and therefore allows for continued income. If nuisance payments are required, they can be compensated by future adjustments of the fees related to the recoverable part of the investments.

6.What is the impact of these interventions?

As a general rule, it is estimated that consumption can be reduced by 40% by renovating the roof, facades and windows.

A further 20% reduction can be achieved by renovating the heating system. Landlords are always inclined to think that these deductions are not to their advantage but rather to the advantage of the tenants; indirectly we have ascertained that this is not the case.

7.How can property owners benefit from these interventions?

The owners will benefit directly from lower maintenance costs and tax advantages, as renovation work is deductible. As far as obtaining cantonal and federal subsidies is concerned, these can be considered irrelevant to the overall investment costs and are certainly not the decisive reason for this type of operation.

With the current cost of money, financing with third-party capital, as long as the building is not already over-mortgaged, makes it possible to carry out this type of intervention at a very low cost; certainly more contained than possible losses linked to requests for rent reductions or generalised departures of tenants.

Summarising the advantages and disadvantages of the two possible systems of intervention on existing buildings, what can we say?


The advantages would be

  • Freedom of design
  • Full use of the site
  • New building

The disadvantages would be:

  • Loss of income during construction Higher investment costs
  • Demolition costs
  • Long timescale for vacating the existing building, for dealing with appeals and for construction
  • Seeking new tenants


Benefits would be:

  • Income maintenance during construction
  • Timely investments
  • Maintenance of existing surfaces, even if they exceed regulations
  • New life cycle of rehabilitated elements
  • Possibility of partial recovery of investments
  • Reduction of ancillary costs

The disadvantages would be

  • Limitations and/or compromises given by the existing structure
  • Discomfort for tenants

8.How does GPM assist property owners in the above steps?

GPM, with its long experience in the real estate field, is able to give its clients adequate assistance by providing

  • its advice both in the initial phase and up to the complete realization of the works;
  • the technical analysis of the property
  • the identification of desirable interventions and the quantification of the same;
  • the design and definition of the executive details, the collection of bids and tenders and the management of the works.

Alongside the technical aspects, GPM is also able to follow all the administrative aspects such as

  • obtaining authorizations and any subsidies;
  • managing tenants for any complaints and requests;
  • control and management of payments;
  • adjustment of fees after completion of the work, etc.

The pictures below show the renovation of the building’s shell and systems, recently carried out by GPM on a property in Via Pioda 9, Lugano, before and after the work.

Some technical data

Following a recent renovation of the envelope and systems, recently carried out by GPM on a building in Via Pioda 9 in Lugano, the U values of the various components of the envelope are as follows:

  • Main roof (280 sq m) from 0.74 W/sqmK existing to 0.17 W/sq2K after renovation
  • PT roof (52 sqm) from 0.74 W/sqm2K existing to 0.20 W/sqmK after refurbishment
  • Facades (555 sqm) from existing 1.79 W/sqmK to 0.16 W/sqmK after refurbishment
  • Windows (700 sqm) from existing 4 W/sqmK to 0.75 W/sqmK after renovation
  • Windows (400 sqm) from 4 existing to 0.75 W/sqmK after renovation
  • Smaller the U coefficient, better the thermal protection.

Duration of work: 5 months for the upper part and 5 months for the ground floor.

Cost approx. CHF/sqm SUL 1’150.