It started as an open challenge 14 years ago from the Tenerife government to architects around the world, design a self sufficient dwelling that blends in and makes full use of its natural surroundings, with zero CO2 emissions. Some 397 applied for the project but that was whittled down to the best 25, they were given full reign to develop their ideals on the 400,000 square metre ITER (Institute of Technology and Renewable Energy) site in Granadilla, Tenerife.
The worldâ€™s media came together with the scientific and architectural community on Friday 19 March to celebrate the official inauguration of these 25 beacons for the future. With 90 % of the worlds population expected to live in cities within five years the drive has been to make houses that are functional, practical and pleasing to live in, the applicants certainly rose to the challenge.
The winner of the contest was La Geria (above) from a Spanish team led by Cesar Ruiz-Larrea Cangas. The name refers to a horseshoe shaped protective wall used to shield vines in Lanzaroteâ€™s wine regions, and bunkered down into the earth, this house makes good use of the grounds warmth and insulation. Facing the best light source keeps energy use down and liberal sprinklings of plants on the shaded patio area contribute to the cool feel of the building.
All the houses differ but they share common features, extensive use of photovoltaic solar panels, wind turbines and a shared water supply with desalinated sea water from the Atlantic that laps the perimeter of ITER. Complimenting the environment is also an important consideration, the partial sinking of many of the houses helps to blend them in and building materials were carefully chosen to be recycled and good for the retention of heat, light and energy. Each dwelling also blends with its neighbouring buildings using natural colours and textures.
The competing architects have not lost sight of the need to make these houses into desirable homes, many of the external looks are bold and exciting such as La Estrella (the star) or the open fronted Las Bovedas. The nest stage of the project is for scientists and other interested parties to live in the houses and test them as they interact on a daily basis. All the houses are fitted with monitors to constantly check air flow and quality, inside and outside temperatures and humidity.
Tenerife presents unique weather and environmental challenges and advantages, those have all been factored into the development of this village, but the idea is to use the knowledge gained on this site to implement bioclimatic techniques around the world. The new homes will now act as a living laboratory and are making a big impact on architectural thinking and planning for the next generation of homes
After years of discussion, two large offshore wind farms have been given the green light for Cumbria and should be producing enough power to run 445,000 homes by the end of 2011.
The farms will feature 130 of the latest turbines, and are being backed by major players in the alternative energy field, work will start on the sites this summer.Â The biggest of the two is at Walney, 9.3 miles (15 kms) west of Barrow in Furness, and will contain 100 turbines. This development is being financed jointly by Danish firm, Dong Energy, and Scottish and Southern Energy.Â
The second farm, Ormonde, Â is slightly smaller with just 30 turbines, and is being run by Vattenfall, a leading Swedish company. This will be positioned 6.2 miles (10 kms) off Walney Island.
One of the biggest supermarket chains in Tenerife, Carrefour have banned plastic carrier bags, the first store to do so on the island. Saturday 14 November was the last day the old bags were being issued.
Some 75,000Â re-usable bags have been issued to customers for continued use, they can be used up to 15 times and even then, they can be re-cycled after they are worn out. The old style carrier bags can take up to 400 years to bio degrade.
Thanks to some 470 volunteers and a strong lead from the Tenerife government, 800 kilos of rubbish was removed from beaches around the island during this summer.
This is the third year of the “La Mar de Limpia” initiative, prompted by the Office of Participation and Voluntary Environmental Work. The teams picked the busiest tourism summer months, when discarded rubbish can be a big problem. The scheme helped to mobilise local groups and to show visitors theÂ damage they can cause.
The main beaches targeted were La Ballenita and Las Arenas in Buenavista del Norte, Puertito de Guimar,San Telmo on Puerto de la Cruz, and Playa de la Arena in Santiago del TeideÂ . The rubbish came in many forms, from paper to heavier iron and metal objects, local diving teams helped to ensure that the sea bed gotÂ a Â good spring clean too. Hopefully those who witnessed the clean up will be more careful in their daily activities, now they have seen the effect it can have.
There’s a recycling revolution going on in Arona, the southern municipality of Tenerife. The council has embracedÂ sustainable principles by providing a wealth of collection points where paper, glass, plastics and other waste can be seperated for easy treatment.
Arona includes the tourist hot spots of Los Cristianos and part of Las Americas, so produces lots of waste on a commercial level. The council have a free collection service to take cooking oil from bars and restaurants for recycling. Smaller domestic users now have a municipal waste depotÂ near Buzanada where people can take a diverse range of waste and leave it free of charge. This covers batteries, paint, wood, metals and aerosols to name just a few.
The example set by Arona is alreadt being picked up by neighbouring councils, all helping to improve the future of Tenerife.
There was a double shock along the east coast of Tenerife when 2 dead Sperm Whales (like the one pictured, from another incident) were found on the same day just a few miles apart. The discoveries happened at El Tablado in Guimar and Las Maretas in Arico.
The Guimar whale was Â 7 metres long and weighed 7,000 kilos while the Arico whale was slightly bigger at 11 metres long and weighing 15 tons. The bodies were taken away for examination to discover the cause of their deaths. Their are many dangers facing whales around the Canary Islands, such as pollution, shipping and sometimes sonar from military vessels. Tenerife environmental groups will be watching with great interest as they continue to try to protect these magnificent creatures.
One of the biggest and most ambitious solar power projects in the World was unveiled yesterday at ITER (Institute of Technology and Renewable Energy) in Granadilla, South Tenerife. The Canary Islands government and cutting edge Japanese technology company, The Sumitomo Corporation, will work together with a 111 million euro budget to push forward the boundaries of green energy.
The Canary Islands energy plat, PECAN, is committed to producing 30 per cent of all energy for the 7 islands through renewable sources by 2015. A key part of the new project a solar panel factory on the 400,000 square metre ITER site, will produce and test the latest and most efficient range of panels, that process will begin within weeks, and will create 300 new jobs.
The ITER site is already the home to wind power, and bioclimatic housing projects, but the new investment will move them to a higher level and make Tenerife a big player in the solar energy field.
Recycling is gaining in popularity in Tenerife, with more and more councils signing up to such a worthy cause. Leading the way in the north is Puerto de la Cruz with 25 kilos of glass recycled for each inhabitant last year, that’s double the average for the Canary Islands.
It’s true that a lot of the glass comes from the large amount of bars and restaurants in this popular tourist town, around 48 per cent of the total, but it still reflects a strong commitment to the green policies adopted by the council. The grand total of glass given anew life last year was 802,740 kgs, up 41,000 kgs on the previous year.
Puerto de la Cruz has a very high profile with 166 glass collection points scattered around the municipality. It’s certainly proving to be a good economic and environmental measure from the council and is setting a good example to the rest of Tenerife.
As the Canary Islands head towards the busiest part of their tourist season, the Gobierno (Island Government) has issued an updated guide called “Care For Whales And Dolphins” , aimed at the many boat operators that take people out to witness these remarkable creatures at close quarters.
The Canary Islands is at the forefront of cetacean care and research as a third of all species either live or pass through these islands. There is a huge appetite to see the beauty and grace of these creatures in their natural habitat, but it is impoertant that in doing so, we don’t cause distress or injury to the animals.
Reputable excursion companies have been keen to sign up to the guide lines and the distinctive Blue Boat flag, displayed on a boat,Â is your guarantee that they have promised to stick to the agreed proceedures to view dolphins and whales. These include safe distances to watch from and prohibited view points that could block the path of the animals. There are also time limits and restrictions on the number of boats that can be present in these areas at the same time.
The new leaflet is available to the public in Spanish, German and English at most Tourist Information points and several local cultural centres. It is hoped that if the public are aware of what is expected by their excursion boat, they can ensure that these rules are stuck to and if need be report anyone who flaunts the rules.
Used in a caring and responsible way, whale and dolphin watching trips can raise awareness of these animals and educate visitors to the dangers facing the cetacean population. It is in everyones interest to ensure that the Canary Islands continue to be a major centre to study, appreciate and conserve these majestic animals.
It has taken a while but councils in Tenerife are waking up to the advantages and benefits of recycling, and they certainly have enough discarded rubbish to work with. Adeje council are one of the most progressive, and yesterday they inaugurated a new rubbish sorting depot to tackle the 120 tons produced daily in their area.
The new plant in the industrial zone near Barranco de los Torres is run by Ascan-Torrabonaf, who have considerable experience in mainland Spain. Since 2006Â council cleaning servicesÂ have dealt with 125,000 tons of rubbish, and as newÂ residential areas open in Adeje, that total is rising. The new plant covers 10,000 square metres and has 2 large compacters to crush rubbish to a manageable size after it has been graded.
There are 250 points around Adeje, where rubbish can be put in differentÂ bins for paper and card, cans and glass. General rubbish isÂ sifted through and added to the appropriate piles before it is passed on to El Rosario, Tenerife in the case of paper and card,Â the PIRS centre, Abona, Tenerife for cans, and Aguimes in Gran Canaria for glass. Gas oil can also be collected for treatment at the new depot as part of a free service. Ascan-Torrabonaf has 50 rubbish collection vehicles and employs 135 staff.