Created by architects from around the world, Tenerife has from this week green houses with the latest eco-friendly design. These houses have solar thermal installations, photovoltaic panels, and vegetables’ gardens.
From this week, anyone who wants to experience life in a house free of CO2 emissions and help in the collection of data about their daily energy consumption, and the advantages and disadvantages they offer to its inhabitants will be able to do it in the south of Tenerife Island.
Facing the Atlantic Ocean in a natural setting worthy of a visit, is located the urbanization called La Granadilla, owned by the Technological Institute of Renewable Energies (ITER). It is composed by a total of 25 detached single-family houses separated more than 10 meters one from each other in a plot of land of nearly 50,000 m2 facing south (first of a series of passive solutions to improve energy efficiency), designed by architects from around the world.
The Technological Institute is the entity in charge of the management of this complex and has established a price for these houses rental that goes between 200 and 300 Euros the night. It has to be pointed out that these are houses with several rooms, a bioclimatic design and located in an exceptional island which makes the price sound much better.
The aim of this bioclimatic houses complex is to rent the houses for a short term, “we don’t want to turn these houses in permanent residences because changes would be made to them”, explains Maria Delgado, architect of ITER, adding that it is not exactly a resort.
The target audience is scientists, technicians and test groups interested in living in these houses for a while and contribute with their feedback to improve, if necessary, the facilities of each house. In fact, a few days ago, even before having an active website, the institute received several research group bookings.
When the green houses market didn’t exist yet and when no development plan included the “sustainable” label, the ITER had the idea to launch an international contest to build an environmentally friendly complex.
The project started in 1995, with the aim of “studying the feasibility of a zero CO2 emissions complex.” The innovative proposal caught the attention of 397 architects from 38 countries who presented their proposals.
The jury awarded the project called “La Geria” by Cesar Ruiz-Larrea Cangas and although the intention was to create an homogeneous residential complex “it was decided to construct 25 different houses losing unit but enhancing the opportunities to use the complex as a laboratory”, said Ruiz-Larrea.
The Geria, the Star, the Cube, the Domes are some of the names of the green housing solutions presented by architects from USA, Denmark, United Kingdom, Finland, Mexico, Venezuela, France, Italy and, of course, Spain.
The development of this project has taken 15 years, where the ITER had to contact and ask for the project implementation to each architect, adapt each idea to the Spanish construction laws, discard the superfluous aspects of the designs to adjust them to the budget, and overcome the real estate bubble. These where times where finding a free constructor at a reasonable price was more complicated than now. It was decided to build the houses in groups of five, while for the monitoring system the project benefited from public funding.
The result of this long term project is a “for export” residential complex, which can be reproduced anywhere in the world and can be visited to verify its functioning, because “we must monitor the houses to check how they work, but first of all the houses must be inhabited,” commented Delgado.
Taking advantage of the proximity of the sea and the dry weather, the technicians installed a reverse osmosis desalination plant and a sewage treatment plant, which feed all the houses through three distribution networks. The first network carries drinking water from the desalination plant to the houses. The second one carries the wastewater from the houses to the sewage treatment plant and the third one takes the cleaned water from the treatment plant to the irrigation system.
There is also a unique power distribution network, with a meter capable of measuring on an individual basis both energy production and consumption, distinguishing between the amount that comes from wind turbines or solar panels. The solar panels were one of the requirements for the design, but the wind turbines were optional. Efficient home appliances and light bulbs are other standard solutions throughout the Granadilla complex.
La Geria as example of a eco-friendly house
To see how these houses work, the best is to take a look at the winner project, not only because of this quality, but it represents the entire urban complex.
César Ruiz-Larrea was inspired by a typical Canary industrial building called ‘la Geria’ and he decided to recreate its structure. The building is made using volcanic rock, which isolates the wind and maintains a degree of moisture in the ground.
Ruiz-Larrea followed the requirements for the project using environmentally friendly materials and adapting his design to the environment. “In each planning it must be taken into account the location and reflect on the traditional architecture solutions. The technological culture has brought us too much and unnecessary energy consumption” explained the architect.
This house has 123 m2 and 2.7 meters high. It has three bedrooms, kitchen, lounge, two bathrooms and two large porches on both north and south facades. The building also has a 124 m2 vegetal roof to cool down the house. This green roof is made using a variety of rosemary that requires very little irrigation. The thermal solar system is also installed on the roof and it is composed by two solar panels that feed a 300 litres tank that provides hot water to the house. The power supply is provided by 14 photovoltaic panels, whose annual production is estimated at around 3,910 kWh.
“The wood used is FSC certified and filtered rainwater is used in the shower. The house also has a vertical vegetables garden in the kitchen for the inhabitants consumption”, explained Ruiz-Larrea.
Besides, the building has passive systems such as an independent soil forge ground isolated and sensors that measure the temperature at different heights on the walls and ceilings, moisture, flow of air and CO2 emissions.
To learn more about or to make a reservation to stay at this eco- friendly complex please contact firstname.lastname@example.org