Rising Temperatures and Repopulating the Mountains for Cooler Living: Solutions for Mountain Living and Current and Future Technological Proposals

Considerations on reading Luca Mercalli’s book “Salire in montagna” by Team Evergreen Engineering

It is now undeniable that global temperatures are rising, and we will find ourselves living in increasingly hot and humid cities. Luca Mercalli’s proposed solution is to move to the mountains, approaching the 0°C limit. While relocating to the mountains may not be feasible for everyone, compared to the depopulation that the mountains have experienced for decades, it could be a positive trend. Today, we have technological solutions that allow us to live in the mountains while working and contributing to a more sustainable way of living and working than in the past and in the cities.

Sustainable building in the mountains presents a significant challenge, requiring not only consideration of environmental needs but also the unique logistical and accessibility conditions of these areas. At the same time, it is crucial to renovate existing mountain buildings using new technologies and eco-friendly solutions to counteract mountain depopulation and promote repopulation. Besides sustainable building solutions that can achieve Zero Energy Building (ZEB) standards while preserving the characteristics of mountain homes and the landscape, communication technologies, tested during COVID, will enable telework without frequent travel “downwards” to the cities. An effective strategy for promoting sustainability in these contexts should include innovative technologies such as remote-piloted drones (UAVs) or autonomous aerial vehicles (AAVs), which will significantly improve logistics and accessibility.

Renovated Building with Sustainable Features

To create a sustainable building in the mountains, it will be essential to consider various solutions and opportunities:

  1. Thermal Insulation: Applying thermal insulation to the external or internal envelope of the mountain home will be a must. This, combined with new generation thermal windows, will ensure greater comfort for its occupants and reduce heat loss, making the envelope ‘passive.’
  2. Photovoltaic (PV) Systems: Installing photovoltaic panels will provide clean and sustainable energy to the house, reduce dependence on non-renewable sources, and make the home sustainable and in harmony with its surroundings. A proper mix of installed power and energy storage capacity will allow for long off-grid periods for energy-consuming utilities in the home.
  3. Heat Pump: Using high-efficiency heat pumps combined with PV panels will be essential not only for economical and sustainable heating but also for maintaining moderated indoor temperatures during winter at zero cost, utilizing renewable solar energy.
  4. Innovative Wood Stoves: Integrating innovative wood stoves or inverted flame stoves with low-dissipation flues will make home environments warmer and more charming, allowing for efficient and conscious burning of local wood.
  5. Hydrogen Energy Storage Systems: (This is an added idea that is yet to be developed)
  6. Water Treatment and Recovery Systems: (This is an added idea that is yet to be developed)
Repopulating the Mountains and Accessibility

The goal of repopulating mountain areas can be supported through:

  1. High-Speed Internet for Telework: Ensuring reliable and fast internet connections to facilitate telework, allowing people to live in the mountains while maintaining their jobs in the cities.
  2. Welcoming Communities: Creating welcoming and supportive communities that offer a less isolated environment than large cities, promoting socialization and social cohesion.

Habitability and Accessibility Living in the mountains can vary throughout the year:

  1. April – November Period: Favorable conditions for living in the mountains, with moderate temperatures and easy ground access.
  2. December – March Period: Greater challenges during the winter months, with harsher weather conditions that can make access and living more difficult.
  3. Car Access: Car access is often dependent on weather conditions and road maintenance, necessitating alternative solutions such as drones or electric aerial vehicles.
  4. Supply Difficulties: During critical periods, the supply of goods and services can be more complex, requiring specific logistical plans and innovative solutions.
Renovation and Maintenance Work

Renovation work in the mountains requires particular attention:

  1. Mountain Construction Site: Managing a construction site in the mountains can involve additional challenges related to logistics, environmental conditions, and the availability of local resources.
  2. Expert Designers: Collaborating with specialized professionals, such as engineers and architects experienced in mountain design, is essential to ensure optimal results.
Maintenance and Accessibility to Professional Services

Maintaining buildings in the mountains can present some difficulties:

  1. Specialized Artisans and Professionals: Finding specialized artisans and professionals willing to work in remote areas can be an obstacle, requiring the creation of support networks and long-term collaborations.
  2. Facilitation with AAVs: Transporting artisans and professionals using autonomous and electric aerial systems.
Rapid Interventions for Health and Emergencies

Living in the mountains, and thus far from central health services (doctors and hospitals) or emergencies (fires), can present some difficulties:

  1. Remote Medical Service: Increasingly, there are digital applications that allow for remote diagnoses. If medications are needed, they can be obtained using drones, or if necessary, a doctor can intervene via the AAV system.
  2. Emergency Interventions: Emergencies like fires or floods can be mitigated with an automatic AAV service system. Systems available on the market today will require adequate logistical arrangements to reduce intervention times.

In conclusion, creating a sustainable building in the mountains and implementing innovative solutions to facilitate access via electric UAVs or AAVs requires an integrated approach that considers technical, logistical, environmental, and social aspects. Only by combining specialized knowledge, best practices, and adaptability will it be possible to promote the sustainable development of mountain areas and ensure a balanced future for these valuable regions.

Evergreen Engineering, with its decade-long experience in the design and construction of nZEB sustainable buildings, offers dedicated and integrated solutions for the renovation of buildings and villages in the mountains. Additionally, collaborations are being studied with other logistics and goods and people movement companies that are implementing UAVs and AAVs with the services described above.

Picture of Prof. Claudio Boër

Prof. Claudio Boër

Former Vice-President
Advisory Board
SUPSI - University of Applied Science and Arts of Southern Switzerland

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