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Start arrow Agenda arrow 22@Breakfast arrow Past Events arrow 22@Update Breakfast June 2008
22@Update Breakfast June 2008
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Sustainability and renewable energy, two pillars for the city of the future.

Overuse of natural resources, rising oil prices and the misuse of urban spaces are all forcing countries to re-think the city model they want to create. All eyes are on renewable energy sources and construction methods that take advantage of environmental conditions to create comfortable spaces while saving energy.

At the June 22@ Update Breakfast, Teresa Batlle, founding partner of Pich-Aguilera Architects, focused her talk on the importance of architecture in contributing to sustainability.

.In the 18th century we invented the steam engine, which made us believe we could dominate and do without nature,. explained Batlle, adding that land devastation increased in the 20th century. However, recently we have been made aware of the fact that there is a limit. That.s why we have incorporated the concept of sustainability: architecture.s responsibility to the city and urban planning has a lot to do with the environment and the human-nature relationship.

According to facts gathered by the European Commission on the real-estate boom, developed countries dedicate 50% of their raw materials and 40% of their water to construction; 45% of energy is used for heating, cooling and electricity. On the other hand, 60% of land is urban, which means that 40% of CO2 emissions come from construction, while the other 60% is distributed equally between industry and transportation.

.We have to improve the quality of our construction,. commented Teresa Batlle, and avoid buildings and equipment that the city does not take advantage of. A new concept is being developed: a compact city that generates tall multipurpose buildings that take advantage of environmental conditions.

Architecture that takes advantage of the site.s environmental conditions can create buildings that are naturally comfortable three quarters of the year. Creating a bio-climate helps save 28% more energy, according to the European Commission study, as well as reducing CO2 emissions by 29%. If renewable energy is also used, we can increase energy saving by 55% and reduce CO2 emissions by 48%. Regarding costs, these processes would only increase construction expenses by 10%. However, .the long-term saving resulting from wise energy use has not been studied,. commented Batlle.

Innovator of the month, Miquel Cabré, sub director general of ALSTOM-ECOTÈCNIA, introduced the Group and his company.

ECOTÈCNIA was founded in Barcelona in 1981. In 2007 it was incorporated into the ALSTOM group, which is the market-leader in three sectors: transport, energy and maintenance and rehabilitation services, with an annual turnover of around 20,000 million euros. Although Europe is their main market, they are also present in seventy countries, including USA, China and South America. Their growth rate is 14% per year and the company is valued above the IBEX index.

.The motor of ALSTOM.s strategic plan is the environment and sustainability,. affirmed Miquel Cabré. Moreover, he specified that all sections of the Group develop proprietary technology and offer their Power System program of energy solutions for all fields of power generation, except wind energy, which has now been added thanks to the incorporation of ECOTÈCNIA in the Group.

The Spanish market is one of the principal generators and consumers of wind energy and is growing at an annual rate of 22%. The company aims to reach 450,000 MW by 2016. Currently, ECOTÈCNIA exports 50% of the power they generate to neighboring countries like Portugal, France and Italy. However, this trend is changing due to the expanding global market. Rising oil prices reduce the price difference between wind-generated and oil-generated power. Therefore, many countries are interested in moving to this type of energy. In the European Union there is a guideline .called 20-20-20. which specifies that by the year 2020 20% of primary energy must come from renewable sources. Wind energy is competitive both in cost and in sustainability. Currently, 10% of the energy generated in Spain is from wind, surpassing hydroelectric sources.

ECOTÈCNIA, like the Group it belongs to, uses proprietary technology, which means they must invest in R&D and hire qualified personnel. Their latest machine is 3 MB, 142m high and generates power for 8,000 people. In addition to wind energy, the company also dedicates 10% of their activity to solar power. They have constructed the largest photovoltaic plant in Catalonia, on the Festo Pneumatic, S.A.U building.

To finish up June.s breakfast, Agustín Ten, secretary of the 22@Network Board of Directors and Josep Miquel Piqué, managing director of 22@Barcelona, spoke of the news in the district:
  • A general assembly of the Association was held in order to nominate a new Board of Directors. INDRA continues in the presidency.
  • 13 new companies have joined since the last update.
  • ICING conference held with the aim of offering a general vision of the city of the future.


Architecture must be in tune with the characteristics of the location in order to create comfortable living conditions and allow for energy savings.

Increasing oil prices have made countries turn to renewable energy sources, which are now competitive both in price and sustainability.

The ALSTOM Group is a worldwide leader in sustainable transport and generation of renewable energy. Since they use proprietary technology, they must invest in R&D and hire specialized personnel.


.It.s very interesting. Above all because everyone is talking about sustainability but nobody speaks in depth about some of the topics. In this case, both the topic of architecture and the case studies of companies that generate renewable energy for the city are very important..

.Normally, the only reticence you can find when selling a good product are the result of its weak points. The only weak point I can find in wind energy is related to the landscape, birds and conservative ecology groups. We need to analyze the big picture before making any decision and saying we don.t want to take a risk on a project of these characteristics. We must know the terrain well. Many people see wind energy as a threat to their land because it conditions future infrastructure growth. Imagine a wind farm on a mountain.you can.t build houses around it. Mayors, towns.a lot of the time they don.t talk about the long term advantages..

.We thought it was really interesting, especially the part about architecture. The architecture firm is well known here in Barcelona. They are leading an ecological movement in this sector..

  • Renewable energy is that which is obtained from natural sources that are considered inexhaustible. Renewable energy sources are categorized in two groups: non-contaminating or clean (solar, wind, ocean, hydroelectric, geothermal) and contaminating, which are obtained from organic material or biomass. They can be used directly as combustible (wood or other solid vegetable material), be converted into bio-ethanol or bio-gas (through organic fermentation processes) or bio-diesel (through transesterification reactions and urban waste).

  • Sustainable architecture analyzes the environmental impact of the different processes involved in constructing housing. It is based on five basic pillars:
    - The ecosystem in which the building is located.
    - Energy systems that foster saving.
    - Construction materials.
    - Recycling and reusing waste.
    - Mobility.

  • Carbon dioxide . carbonic acid gas or carbonic anhydride .is a gas. Its molecules are made up of two oxygen atoms and one carbon atom (chemical formula: CO2). The carbon dioxide cycle has two components: biological, in which carbon exchange between living organisms and the atmosphere is produced, and biogeochemical, which regulates the transfer between the atmosphere and oceans and rivers.

    Carbon dioxide has helped to create a habitable temperature on Earth. However, in excess this gas would accentuate the phenomenon known as the greenhouse effect: it would reduce the amount of heat that escapes into space and cause an important warming of the planet. Nevertheless, an increase in ocean temperatures due to other causes (like the intensification of solar radiation) favors higher emission of dissolved carbon dioxide from the oceans (in huge quantities), such that the change in saturation of this gas in the atmosphere could be the result or consequence of climate change. This issue has not been cleared up scientifically.

To download Pich Aguilera's corporate portfolio, please click here (4,4 Mb)

To download Alstom-Ecotecnia's corporate portfolio, please click here (1,6 Mb)

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