Tenerife is home to the world’s largest exhibit of houses built under bioclimatic parameters. This means that technologies allowing to save natural resources while maintaining pleasant climatic conditions in the inside at the same time are put into use. This residential development is located on the south of the island, on the coast of Granadilla, and it consists of 25 single-family homes. They were built as a result of an international contest called by the governing body of the island of Tenerife and the Instituto Tecnológico de Energías Renovables (ITER) -a researching entity working in the green energy field- in 1995. Its aim was to find solutions targeting a reduction in energy and water consumption to a minimum through the use of renewable energies and water treatment plants to provide for domestic supplies -electricity, water, etc.
Almost 400 preliminary designs were submitted by architects from 38 countries, 25 of which were chosen for their implementation. These would allow experts to study and compare the different solutions and decide which amongst them are the most efficient. To that end, every house is equipped with several internal sensors -measuring temperature, humidity, CO2, suspended particles, airflows, etc.- and external sensors -weather stations measuring solar radiation, external temperature, pressure, humidity and particles-, as well as consumption and electricity production meters depending on the source -solar panels, wind turbines and other green energies, and power lines. Data from each house is recorded in a central computer that processes the information. Results obtained in this laboratory allow experts to find design patterns applicable to other buildings in similar weather conditions.
Due to their cultural contribution, especially on the architecture field, they have been called “emblematic houses”, and they boast a modern, light and fresh design. Most houses are designed following local architecture elements so that they would blend in with the landscape. All aspects of the houses are also designed to achieve the greater possible saving rate while maintaining good living standards: orientation, layout, shape, materials and the exterior even.
It is remarkable to see how rooftops, façades and other elements of the building are perfectly embedded with solar panels used to generate electric power, which is then used by different systems: materials preventing heat or cold from escaping, elevated windows, sunshades, skylights and lateral lighting are used to make a better usage of sun light, as well as low-energy bulbs and presence-sensing and photoelectric devices that help save from 10 to 80% in electric consumption. Regarding electronic appliances, they are all of the highest energy classification possible. Drinking and farming water is supplied through a desalination plant using reverse osmosis and a waste water treatment plant and distributed through three distribution networks. Hot sanitary water is obtained thanks to solar thermal collectors that have been adjusted to fit the different designs. As a way to rationing water as much as possible, taps in the houses are equipped with aerators and flow reducers, and toilet tanks with either flush interruption systems or dual flush cisterns. And because of the dual circulation systems, water can be reused for different purposes.
The exterior of the houses is also designed to add up to their cooling down. Water fountains and ponds are used in some houses to favour humidification of surrounding air. Indigenous plants have been used in the gardens, which are different in each house according to the needs of their design.
But all these design and construction efforts would not help achieve the objectives were the houses not inhabited. Having people live in the houses helps assess the real functioning of each of them. To provide for this information, there is a letting system that allows people to temporarily live in these curious houses, which gives experts real data not only on the generation and consumption of energy, but also on comments and remarks the tenants might give as information of interest for the project. Bookings can be made directly on their website: http://casas.iter.es/en
Apart from being available for renting, the residential development and a visitor centre designed by the winner of the contest, César Ruíz-Larrea, are available for guided tours too. In the visitor centre, visitors will find out information about the results achieved through the monitoring of the houses and other areas of work of this technology institute.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn about this urbanization -the only of its kind in the world- in which you will be able to see for yourself how diverse bioclimatic techniques are implemented while enjoying the idyllic surroundings.
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