Construye, English, Green building
In Ibiza, a little more than a year after we first started on that rural house at San Lorenzo, we have received the Passivhaus Premium certification for the Can Tanca housing project. Great, but … what does all this mean? First of all, it means that we have met the demanding requirements of the German institute for the Premium certification of high energy efficiency: the highest of the three possible categories. It means that we meet, among many other parameters, that our energy demand is less than 30Kwh / m2a and that we generate more than 120Kwh / m2a, that means that we need less energy than we generate, and also that is comes from renewable sources. And why is all this effort made? The reasons are several. The first is professional responsibility;  you shouldn’t do things wrong if you’ve learnt how to do them better, it’s simple really. Quality of the product. Certifying is the only way to ensure that the house meets the set goals. From my experience, if we hadn’t certified, we wouldn’t have been able to reach the level of efficiency we have. Health of the occupants. Thanks to the ventilation system, an excellent indoor air quality is guaranteed, something that can already be seen in the data provided by the installed CO2 sensors. In this type of housing, it is very important to monitor, it is not enough to calculate at the beginning, it is also necessary to measure later. Comfort. You have greater comfort in the house in temperature, humidity, air quality, and peace of mind. Yes, peace of mind, who doesn’t sleep better knowing that their bills will be small, or nonexistent as in our case. Economy.  Not only does it imply less cost for the user, it also implies less cost to the country, which needs to generate less energy to supply their cities. All these reasons are enough on their own to take the step, to build efficient, however, none of them, in my opinion, is the main reason. The real reason we do this is more relevant than any of the benefits that, in one way or another, can be obtained by the different agents. The real reason is environmental responsibility. Climate change is already evident, there is increasing CO2 in the atmosphere and, as a result, global temperatures are rising. Buildings are responsible for 40% of energy consumption, and more than 80% of the energy we generate comes from fossil fuels. That means from burning things and that means emitting CO2. We must then, speaking of generation, shift to emission-free sources, and speaking of demand, need less energy. Here everyone has to play their part. Building professionals should generate renewable energy in situ, which is not always possible and also build in such a way that energy demand is as low as possible. That is why Passivhaus is born, and that is the reason there are over 4000 buildings built under the standard and that is why Can Tanca exists. Álvaro Martínez Gil
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Biophilia, a term popularized by conservationists and environmentalists, describes the innate sense of connection to nature and emotional affiliation with other living beings that we have as human beings. We need nature to be part of our lives and as more and more of us are living in cities, that nature is no longer the countryside or the mountain, there is no rural environment near so the nature we need must be urban nature. Biophilic cities are cities that incorporate nature in abundance into their design. They are cities that care for, protect, rediscover and grow their urban nature and that try to foster the daily and deep connection with the natural world as an essential part of a full, healthy and happy life. Biophilic design is a growing practice and today we can find various examples of buildings that try to integrate natural characteristics and qualities as part of their integral design. We are becoming more aware of the physical, psychological and emotional benefits that nature provides us, its ability to reduce stress, to aid recovery from illness or to enhance cognitive skills. We need biophilic workplaces, healing gardens in health centers and green spaces in our homes that provide us with sunlight, natural ventilation, plants and greenery. And in cities, we need this nature to be incorporated into our urban environment in ways that go beyond the mere functional benefits provided by trees, green roofs, wetlands for stormwater management and for temperature control or air quality. To achieve the integration of nature in our daily life biophilic cities have to include some traits that define them:
  • Urban plans to bring nature closer to dwellers so that they have green spaces or community gardens nearby.
  • Programs to raise awareness of the climate, flora and fauna that define the ‘urban home’ and ‘on-site’ education with hiking, camping or volunteering activities in natural areas.
  • Connecting the different urban parks through roads or trails to increase the options of being and walking in the open air.
  • Investing in ‘green’ social infrastructure and biodiversity projects.
With ‘green belts’ to bring green areas into cities or with areas declared ‘urban nature reserves’ biophilia is increasingly present in our cities.
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At Terravita we work with positive awareness, trying to minimize the environmental impact in each and every one of our acts. We are not perfect and we still have a long way to go, but we are walking in the right direction. And with that conscience we have assumed the same responsibility within our headquarters. We believe companies must set an example, it is not about producing and generating, it is about working in tune with our environment, respecting our resources and growing with harmony and care. We have realized that individual actions encourage group change, and that it is no use waiting for others to do so. We live very fast and tend to blame the environment, the political class or the lack of time, to not act correctly in our day to day, not only at home, but also in the place where we spend so many hours, our workplace. The good news is that it can be done. You just have to want to do it. Thus, within our internal framework and the day-to-day of Terravita, environmental responsibility and policy are increasingly entrenched. Every day we set out to prove that enthusiasm, desire and the small efforts to take care of our environment, really make a big difference. And, besides satisfaction and peace of mind, they also have very positive effects. It is all about re-educating ourselves and collaborating to spread these changes, internally with our team and also in our way of working and communicating with our clients. Within these sustainable gestures we have incorporated simple things such as a strict recycling policy, which in addition to the conventional plastic, paper, glass and organic, includes a deposit for batteries and cells inside the company. The use of recycled paper, hybrid vehicles and a 100 per cent electric vehicle, with a charger available in the company for our visitors’ cars. We also use ecological products for cleaning our premises, save water and use clean energies (windmill, solar panels). We even bring our daily meal in glass containers, to not use plastic utensils in our kitchen. This year we will also incorporate a new project of electric bicycles for the team that lives near the headquarters, to minimise the environmental impact of everyone come in his own car. The curious and magical aspect of these small steps is that they increase creativity and enthusiasm, and every year we incorporate new ideas that come up naturally within the team. We keep on adding ideas, working collaboratively towards this common goal, taking care of our planet. There are no excuses and we can expect more. We all have to act. These are not great feats, but small gestures that once you get used to them do not need great efforts and become an integral part of our life. As Teresa of Calcutta used to say: “Sometimes we feel that what we do is just a drop in the sea, but the sea would be less if it were missing a drop.” From Terravita we invite you to be the engine of change.
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Sometimes creating a beautiful garden can seem hard work. There’s so much pruning, sowing, mowing, planting, raking, digging and watering to do in just one season! But Spring is really the time for your garden to flourish. First on the agenda should be a thorough clean-up of all the winter debris. Rake your lawn, sweep all the dead leaves and be sure to tackle any weeds. It is much easier to remove young weeds with smaller roots at this stage in the year. Thoroughly check your plants for any signs of damage to prevent insects and fungi and do your first mow of the year. Regular mowing will keep your lawn healthy and under control. Consider introducing an environmentally friendly lawn fertiliser to tackle moss and weeds. Spring is the best moment to start your own compost heap. Collect plant debris and old leaves and add these to your compost bin or pile. Chopping up the debris will help speed up decomposition. Make sure you add equal amounts of brown and green material in your compost heap, this helps keep the carbon:nitrogen ratio balanced. The next step should be getting your soil ready. Good soil is probably the most important factor for a beautiful garden so now is the time to to topdress your soil with a good quality compost. A 5-8cm layer over the top of your soil will enrich the soil with nutrients and make roots grow better. Worms will rise to the surface aerating your soil further down. If your soil is pure clay, dig your compost down to a level of 50 cm, most plants don’t like to grow in clay, roots need air pockets and space to grow. If you’re going to buy pre-bagged compost do check the composition to ensure its quality. Low quality, cheaper composts are mostly wood products and sand and have very little nutrition so your plants will not grow well. Investing in good quality soil and compost is crucial for having a great garden. While you’re weeding and preparing your soil watch the light in your garden. Check to see which parts get full sum, meaning at least 4 hours of direct sun a day, and which parts stay shady all day. This will give you a head start when you’re ready to plant. Once you start thinking about planting you’ll find there’s a huge variety of striking plants available. Check with your quality nursery for hardy Mediterranean climate annuals that thrive in our mild climate and will give you spectacular spring blooms, so you can sit back and enjoy your beautiful Spring garden.
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The combination of air-water heat pumps with solar energy enables an upgrading of any solar heating solution to a complete and almost fully renewable system covering 100% of the energy demand for hot water and heating, where houses become nearly totally energy self-sufficient. The combination of solar thermal energy with an air-water heat pump eliminates the need for any additional backup heating and is the ideal solution for housing where cooling is as important as heating. Thanks to the technological components and the use of modulating compressors and fan units this combination offers an outstanding efficiency covering the energy demand of the housing with a maximum use of renewable energy. In this way this combination covers the 100% of the hot water, heating and cooling demand by way of free and renewable energy from the sun and air. How it works In combinated systems solar panels heat up a buffer tank where the upper part is used as hot water storage. A fresh water module uses this water to generate hot water for domestic use while the remaining energy in the buffer tank is used for heating the house. The heat pump is only used when there is not enough solar energy to fulfill the heat demand of the building providing only the energy that is really required.   Advantages These combined solutions make the house much more energy efficient which saves money on a daily basis since they provide hot water and heating all year round without need for any additional or backup system. The energy rating of the house improves considerably resulting in a higher value of the house. Using solar energy emits zero carbon dioxide and combining a solar thermal solution with a heat pump contributes even more to reduce CO2 emissions contributing to the greenhouse gas effect. Another advantage when combining solar thermal energy with a heat pump is the energy independence it provides, minimising the dependency on other energy sources, reducing the dependency on fossil fuels, increasing prices and future scarce supply. If you’re looking for a complete solution with maximum energy efficiency and sustainability that covers your house’s hot water and heating demand, this is the perfect combination.
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<< The harmony and strength of Ibiza can only be perpetuated if the vocabulary of the forms that give it character find its contemporary equivalent. It is not a matter of imitating the architecture of the past, constructing incongruous decorations that do not correspond to our times or our needs, because what impresses personality to Ibiza, what makes it be as it is, is neither more nor less an architecture of limitations solved with great simplicity of forms. Also, introducing elements of popular architecture imported from other regions, will destroy the harmony and unity that have survived the passing of centuries. There is therefore a continous and constant discipline of limitation to authentic forms if Ibiza is to remain what it is: something unique. >> From Ibiza, strong and bright. J.L. Sert
  CONTEXT The current situation, the crisis, the climate change, the excess of energy consumption, etc. All these reasons force the current architecture to adapt, to reinvent itself, and to comply with the demands of the current panorama. In Ibiza, as Sert explains, the adaptation of the architecture to one of less energy demand, has to take into account the personality of the island. It is important to integrate bioclimatic strategies to update the architecture of Ibiza and at the same time to maintain its essence. Improving the energy efficiency of existing buildings and saving energy through energy rehabilitation and the construction of new nearly zero-energy buildings (NZEB) is a key objective for the EU Member States and the European Commission because it reduces energy consumption, and therefore CO2 emissions and climate change, is more energy independent and helps create jobs.   ANALYSIS OF THE CLIMATE AND THE CASA PAYESA From a smaller scale, the aim is to analyze the energetic rehabilitation of the ‘casas payesas’ (literally peasant houses), since these are designed for a family life typical of the nineteenth century. Most of the traditional houses on the island require, for their bioclimatic properties, the installation of heating systems, and in some cases of cooling, depending on their location. The ‘casas payesas’ have a very good energy performance in summer. This is due to the few holes in the facade and the thick walls, which gives the building a high thermal inertia. In winter, however, traditional Ibizan houses are cold, forcing them to install active heating systems. Throughout the winter temperatures range from 16 to 20ºC, while in summer they do not exceed 23ºC. These houses were designed to be inhabited by people who belonged to the nineteenth century, times when the demands of comfort, activities carried out inside the house, and even the clothes were different. It is necessary to adapt the ‘casas payesas’ to the demands of today. OMPORTAMIENTO BIOCLIMÁTICO DE LAS CASAS PAYESASCan Jai. Ibiza The climate of the island of Ibiza is temperate, due to the mild contrasts of summer-winter and day-night temperatures. Relative humidity, which increases by the proximity of the sea, gives the climate of the island a smooth continuity throughout the year. Due to the latitude the radiation is high. The skies are never completely clear despite the low level of cloudiness, due to the high humidity of the environment, but even so, the latitude in which Ibiza is located allows us to take advantage of the high solar radiation throughout the year, avoiding a high energy consumption from non-renewable sources. The difficulty of solving the problems of comfort derived from this climate is maximum because total comfort is inexistent in both dominant seasons.   STRATEGIES Collecting heat during the daytime and storing it to be used in the coldest hours are the most important strategies to obtain optimum comfort level in winter. For the warmer months, due to the high humidity of the environment, continuous natural ventilation, both day and night, is essential. Solar protections and their ability to adapt to the different seasons are essential to prevent direct solar radiation in summer while allowing light and heat in during the winter. The floor that is in contact with the ground is the house’s regulating element. Its high transmittance cools the inside spaces throughout the year. This favours indoor conditions in summer, but not in winter. An insulated double wall is the solution to this problem, since it controls the flow of the cold air, keeping it out in winter and drawing it in in summer to cool the house and to increase the ventilation. Incorporating greater surfaces of glass in the facade and skylights in the roof will increase solar collection and interior luminous comfort, throughout the year. We can therefore achieve a significant reduction in energy demand by integrating passive bioclimatic systems. The traditional architecture would maintain its aesthetics unaltered while significantly reducing energy costs. FRAN VÁZQUEZ. ARCHITECT.
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During the colder months warming our house becomes an issue so that it feels like home and not like an igloo suitable for penguins. This comfort however should not be achieved without wasting energy, we should, ideally, have an intelligent home able to offer us the greatest degree of comfort and health with the minimum waste of energy, during  winter and summer.  The Passive House concept, a building standard that emerged in the 90s, is based on the goal of reducing heat losses to an absolute minimum, a building that does not require any other heating system other than post air heating is called a Passive House, no traditional heating (or cooling) systems are needed. Passive building comprises a set of design principles used to attain a level of energy efficiency within a specific comfort level. To that end a passive building is designed and built in accordance with these principles:
  1. Orientation. Solar gain is managed to exploit the sun’s energy for heating purposes in the heating season and to minimise overheating during the cooling season.
  2. Insulation. Superinsulation and airtight construction provide unmatched comfort by keeping the warmth in and the cold out.
  3. Thermal bridging. Employing continuous insulation throughout avoid the thermal bridging responsible for much of the heat loss in conventional buildings.
  4. Airtight envelope. Sealing the joints between the different building materials is key in avoiding heat loss.
  5. High performance windows. Typically triple-paned windows and efficient doors ensure a high degree of comfort avoiding heat loss and allowing for active, balanced ventilation.
  6. Mechanical Ventilation System. Continuous mechanical ventilation of fresh filtered air using some form of balanced heat and moisture recovery ventilation ensures indoor air quality and provides balanced and comfortable temperature.
All this translates into comfort, health, efficiency and sustainability. Who wouldn’t want this for their home and family? From Terravita we work hard to make this approach the mainstream best practice for building design and construction that is truly energy efficient, comfortable and affordable. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you want our team to design and build your new smart home.
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Solar energy is derived from the sun’s radiation. It is a renewable, widely available and clean energy source. Two major technologies have been developed to harness it. Solar thermal technology captures the sun’s heat. This heat can be used directly or converted into mechanical energy and in turn electricity, known as concentrated solar power. Photovoltaic solar technology directly converts sunlight into electricity using panels of semiconductor cells. The sun is a powerful energy source and we are blessed with abundant sunshine here. Solar energy has proved to be very beneficial not only for the environment but also for the society offering many advantages over conventional fossil fuels and other renewable energy systems. Solar power has some disadvantages but it offers many more advantages that are worth noting: 1. Solar energy is renewable and unlimited The amount of available solar energy is staggering and it’s constantly replaced, by harnessing the sun’s power we are not reducing the amount of energy available – the sun will shine every day. 2. Solar energy is non-polluting Solar energy is low-emission. Solar panels produce no pollution and the environmental costs imposed through manufacture are negligible when compared with the damage inflicted by conventional energy sources. Solar panels contain no moving parts and thus produce no noise. 3. Solar energy is economical In the long run, solar power saves you money. Solar panels and installation involve high initial expenses but this cost is soon offset by savings on energy bills. 4. Solar energy is adaptable Solar energy systems can be custom fit and designed to be both flexible and expandable, meaning that a small solar project can be extended in the future as needed. 5. Easy installation Installation is relatively easy and simple and provides good use of any vertical or horizontal available space. 6. Easy maintenance. Solar panels are low maintenance, because there are no moving parts there’s nothing to wear out that will need replacing in the future. 7. Solar energy is clean. It creates electricity without contributing to global warming pollution. There’s no waste generated and the lifespan of the photovoltaic panels is far longer than other energy system. 8. Solar energy works everywhere. It doesn’t matter how remote, solar energy can generate energy where no other form of power can be obtained. 9. Solar energy works for everybody. There is a huge variety of solar systems and appliances available for home, community or business. It is a very versatile form of energy that can be used on a small scale or on a large scale. 10. Solar energy creates jobs. Solar energy provides jobs and sustainable economical growth. Production of solar panels is becoming a growing source of employment in research, manufacture, sales and installation.
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With winter comes Christmas and sales, but also the cold and a noticeable increase in household expenses such as heating. But if we are responsible and make an efficient use of it we can save a lot on our bill. That’s why we want to share some tips to be warm at home without consuming a lot of energy. The first thing you should do, before the cold sets in, is to check your heating system (filters, pipes …) and drain the radiators to remove all the air accumulated during the months of inactivity. With this we get it to heat properly during the winter months, saving part of the bill and ensuring a longer service life of the installation. Once our installation is checked it’s really very important to keep the heat inside the house. Check all the spots where the heat can get out, such as windows, doors, terraces, even plugs and switches … and try to solve these losses that entail a significant energy expenditure. We do not want the heat to get out, but we do want it to come in. How? Well with the biggest source of energy we know, the sun. Keep the blinds raised during the day so the beams warm your house and air the house with common sense: do it at noon instead of first thing in the morning when the temperature outside is slightly higher. We already have a well operating installation, without heat leaks, and we’re letting our dear King Star do his work. Now we must be responsible not only for the sake of our pockets but to not consume unnecessary energy. Just changing some habits can make a tremendous impact:
  • Wear warm clothes at home, there’s no need to go short sleeved just because you have heating. A good sweater and thick socks will keep us just as warm without using up as much energy.
  • Use a thermostat: The recommended temperature for the winter months is between 20º during the day and 16 at night. If you regulate the temperature of your house with a programmable thermostat, adapting it to your schedules, you will really notice the difference in the bill.
  • Don’t use radiators to dry clothes. If this is one of your habits, shake it off because it makes radiators work double and it makes you waste a lot of energy.
  • Close the radiators in rooms that you’re not using.
And last but not least, make sure you have an efficient heating system. If you have an old installation, maybe it’s time to consider a change. At first it can be an important investment but without doubt it will be a great saving on your bill for the following months and years. When buying new equipment, decide for those with a better energy rating (A +, A ++ or A +++) Now you know how to heat up your home in a responsible and efficient way so do it for your pocket’s sake, for your family’s wellbeing or for the environment, just do it.
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This has to be one of the most loved trends of all times. More and more buildings are showing their living green façades around the world. We love the way large cities are daring to break the grey cement with some touches of colour, so simple and yet so beautiful. Vertical gardens are one the easiest and most decorative ways of adding fresh air into our homes with all the benefits of living plants.

Different options for different functions

It is important to know the functions our garden has to fulfill, such as refreshing certain areas, reducing stress, providing moisture, contributing to a cleaner environment and a greener planet.

Outdoor and indoor vertical gardens

Adding a touch of green to our façades will be something that everyone, including visitors and passers-by, will appreciate. Outdoor vertical gardens are a great way to liven up streets and to provide plush green areas for everyone to enjoy. Vertical gardens inside the house in lieu of traditional plant pots are a different and original way off adding plants to our decoration. Whatever the space we want to decorate vertical gardens are a great option.

Vegetation and architecture

Merging vegetation and architecture is always fascinating and this type of gardening lets us help the environment because it requires little to no care, water or energy. Making sure that we have a suitable installation to avoid humidities is of the utmost importance for any type of vertical garden, indoors or outdoors. Choosing the correct plants based on our climate zone and making sure they are correctly planted are also tasks that are better left to professionals.

Do you want a wonderful garden on one of your walls?

We can make your dream come true and bring joy to your life in a colourful and natural way, providing you with our experience in designing and installing vertical gardens adapted to your aesthetic and functional requirements. In order to achieve the maximum environmental benefits, we use specific systems to optimize the entire process from water storage to air cooling.
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