Ümit Ünal (right) designed a custom cloak for the Galata Tower (left). Photos via Today's Zaman (left) and yapi.com.tr.
One of Turkey's most well-known avant-garde designers is cloaking scale models of famous Istanbul buildings in one-of-a-kind "jackets" to try and bring a little fashion-world glamour to a decidedly unglamorous subject: insulation.Sponsored by the insulation company BlueSafe MaviKale, Istanbul-based fashion designer Ümit Ünal has designed unique bright-blue overcoats for models of five of the city's landmark structures: the 14th-century Galata Tower; the castle-like Haydarpaşa Train Station; the Beyazıt gate at the entrance to Istanbul University; the historical Sarkuysan building in the old banking quarter; and the modern Akmerkez shopping mall.
A Cost-Effective Solution
The cloaked buildings are being placed at rotating locations through Istanbul to "raise awareness about global warming and individual responsibility to prevent energy waste," Ünal told the newspaper Today's Zaman. Insulation is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce energy consumption for heating and cooling.
Despite rising energy costs, new regulations, and low-interest loans to pay for installing insulation, only a small percentage of Turkish buildings are insulated, and an estimated one-third of energy waste occurs in homes.
"Turkey imports 88 percent of its energy, at a cost of $48 billion, but can save 10 billion Turkish Liras [about $7 billion] annually just by properly insulating homes," Levent Pelesen, the general manager of Mardav Yalıtım, one of the three firms behind the initiative, said at the press conference announcing it. "With insulation four centimeters thick, up to 50 percent in energy savings can be accomplished."
New EU Efficiency Standards
Pending European Union regulations provide another incentive for Turkey, which still aspires to join the 27-member bloc, to improve its home insulation standards. The typical Turkish home currently wastes 300 kilowatt-hours of energy per square meter annually -- a figure EU countries plan to bring down to 15 kWh by 2020.
A drastic decrease in the 18 percent value-added tax applied to insulation materials in Turkey could go a long way toward meeting that goal, says Gökhun Kurt of the Dow Chemical Company, another BlueSafe MaviKale partner. "Taxes aren't so high on food because it's a necessity," he told Today's Zaman. "Insulation is also a basic need."
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