Healthy Housing, Sustainability, Ecological Footprint and Energy Efficiency
The idea of sustainability and ecological design is to ensure that our actions and decisions today do not inhibit the opportunities of future generations.
The principal of communal housing and the sharing of common areas and services contribute to a great extend to achieve a more energy efficient building. For instance, a heat efficient central heating system, water recycling systems or solar panels would be far too expensive individually but can be paid for communally.
Our designs seek to minimize the negative impact of buildings and the ecological footprint on the environment by applying a conscious approach to energy and ecological conservation in the design of the built environment.
The consideration of the following aspects enhances our quality of life inside our homes and creates a healthier urban environment:
1. For our homes we choose accessible and safe locations with good infrastructures and far from possible sources of contamination
- Identify, and if appropriate, discard environments with environmental risk factors that can pose
a health risk: chemical, acoustic, light pollution, electromagnetic fields, radiation (radon gas),
etc. In this sense, it is necessary to guarantee a safe distance of our buildings from
infrastructures that can become a source of contamination..
- - Guarantee the connection with other town infrastructure to stay well-connected and accessible to all, taking into account different capacities of each person: eg access to public transport, pedestrians, biking etc.
- Ensure proper signage in buildings, allowing each person with different abilities to easily and safely get around
- Guarantee physical and visual access to green or open natural spacesés físic i visual a una zona verda o blava propera.
2. In the design phase, energy efficiency and passive elements such as solar cooling or heating are taken into account.
- We promote bioclimatic and efficient construction systems.
- We consider the best building orientation to ensure natural lighting and cross ventilation.
- We anticipate preventive maintenance when designing the building and handing over the building documentation
3. Energy auto-sufficiency in all aspects is a priority.
4. We design our buildings in a team of architects and future tenants.
Most CO2 is emitted when building the foundations, structure and enclosures on a project, however building rehabilitations do not normally touch these elements. Therefore, the fact of extending the useful life of building structure and foundations reduces the CO2 emissions of the building.
5. Comfort and health come first.
- We design together with the people who make use of the facilities or services, with the aim of
making comfortable and comfortable spaces for all. We make stairs more visible or accessible
than elevators to promote physical activity, while guaranteeing accessibility for anyone
(functional diversity). We guarantee the visibility and security of the access areas and routes,
without forgetting possible green spaces that are part of the building.
-We encourage citizen participation in the design of collaborative spaces, which allows to create a feeling of belonging to the community that, in turn, promotes true networks and helps to promote social capital..
- We anticipate a plan that guarantees attention to the diversity of people, and that guarantees sufficient flexibility to adapt to changes based on new needs.
- - We integrate the knowledge in neuroscience on how spatial perception affects the human brain and its behavior.
6. Main power supply and waste installations are kept well away from living areas.
It is not just about emphasizing energy efficiency, but also health - controlling noise, humidity,
temperature, toxicity of materials and air, ionization and adaptation to climate change:
- We use materials, products, equipment and bioclimatic construction systems that are efficient, healthy and that guarantee the quality of the indoor environment, avoiding the introduction of environmental risk factors.
- We are demanding in the design and execution of electrical installations, promoting good practices, with the aim of minimizing low frequency electric and magnetic fields.
- We achieve desired light quality for the different activities of the day following chronobiological patterns..
- We choose materials and construction systems with minimal emissions from chemical elements (VOCs, COPs, fibers ...).
- We promote the use of healthier materials for pipes and water tanks for human consumption. At the time of rehabilitation, we replace harmful construction materials such as lead and fibro cement.
- We promote the installation of enclosures that guarantee the isolation against acoustic pollution based on the sources of noise in each environment: traffic, public works, markets, leisure areas. We respect the levels recommended by the WHO for the different daily activities of the users (WHO, 1990-2000) (WHO / Europe, 2009).
-We promote the use of safe materials especially for dealing with fires..
- We promote the use of dissipative materials and electrical installations that allow a suitable path to earthing, avoiding cases of semicircular lipoatrophy.
7. Our houses are contaminant free, thermally controlled and well ventilated.
- We minimize the high frequency emissions of telecommunications.
- We promote the use of mains water as a source of safe and controlled supply. -
- We promote centralized water purification systems when necessary.
8. Natural lighting is important in the creation of a comfortable and healthy living environment.
- We promote natural ventilation in the design phase, whenever possible.
- We make an integral study on the quality of the air, mechanical systems for ventilation, taking into account the sum of several elements: the composition of the air, the temperature, the humidity and the electroclima.
- Preveiem les fonts d’humitat en les seves diferents modalitats (condensació,capil·laritat, filtracions) per tal d evitar la presència de fongs i d altres agents biològics.
- We anticipate sources of humidity in its different forms (condensation, capillary, leakage) in order to avoid the presence of mold and other biological agents.
- We optimize and prioritize sunlight, in those rooms that most need it.
- We support the lighting quality of artificial lighting in the different activities and hours of the day: we prioritize not only the amount of light, but also the quality of light. - We install appropriate lighting in the common areas, car parks and access points in buildings to improve their safety.
9. Responsible building maintenance guarantees healthy homes.
We provide the building documentation, including the usage manual, maintenance, operation
and forms of responsible consumption.
We have a general maintenance plan for the common areas, sewerage, elevators, fire systems
We train and promote the members and raise awareness about:
The importance of water as a scarce resource. We must encourage savings through daily behaviors, storage, reuse and rainfall reuse.
The need to save energy. We encourage the rehabilitation of non-efficient housing, the rational use of heating, air conditioning, lighting and electrical appliances. We promote the choice of efficient devices (A + or A).
The impact on the health of the materials that are chosen in the finishing of furniture, paintings and textiles.
We prioritize the low emission of VOCs, fibers and particles.
The importance of the renovation of housing. We provide guidelines for natural ventilation to users reducing energy consumption..
The importance of good natural and artificial lighting. We promote the use of lighting fixtures to improve lighting consumption and comfort, prioritizing visual quality at every moment of the day.
Responsible use of chemical products. We prioritize those that are less dangerous for the environment and health (cleaning products, air fresheners, insecticides ...).
Electrical, magnetic and electromagnetic pollution derived from the use of different domestic appliances. We provide guidelines for the location and use of these devices.
The need for indoor environments to be smoke-free spaces to protect passive smokers.
Our homes are designed for the long haul. Materials are durable and can easily be re-used or recycled. Our designs think ahead. Will our families grow, shrink or stay stable? How are these changing needs going to affect the spatial zoning of our homes? How will our own health impact our needs in 10 or 20 years’ time? With these things in mind, we design buildings that meet our current needs but can adapt to our changing needs without us later incurring the cost of extensions or renovations.
Choice of building materials can have ramifications far beyond our homes. Inappropriate use of materials in building means one thing: waste. All materials have an embodied energy, which is the energy used over their lifecycle, from processing of raw materials, to manufacturing through to product delivery. If we build our homes with poorly chosen materials, their embodied energy could diminish or cancel out the benefits of years of sustainable living.
Generally, the more processed a material, the higher its embodied energy. So we choose sustainably sourced timbers, recycled and locally sourced materials and low volatile organic compounds, paints and finishes. When building we keep material use to a minimum and if we are renovating, we re-use what we can from the pre-existing building.
Passively designed homes make the most of natural heating and cooling methods to keep its occupants comfortable year-round. Orientation, spatial zoning, thermal mass, ventilation, insulation, shading and glazing are the core components of passive design.
Along with the idea of energy self-sufficiency comes the implementation of green and renewable energy. For instance, heating and water technologies can be run almost exclusively on geothermal and solar energy.
Electricity can be produced using photovoltaic panels and can be supplied to neighbouring buildings.
Our water management is water wise. Rainwater is collected in tanks for irrigation and a wastewater treatment system cleanses sullage for toilet flushing.