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Boletín CF+S > 14 -- Hacia una arquitectura y un urbanismo basados en criterios bioclimáticos >

Edita: Instituto Juan de Herrera. Av. Juan de Herrera 4. 28040 MADRID. ESPAÑA. ISSN: 1578-097X

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Equinox 2000 theory and practice in energy design sustainable technologies for the new millennium at the European parliament.

Equinox 2000 is an EU funded Thermie project to promote sustainable development held a conference at the EU Parliament on 27 Sep-tember 2000. Political Action delivers Green Agenda Paul Lannoye, head of the green party Ecolo has taken the initiative to organise the Equinox 2000 conference at the EU Parliament on 27 September 2000. It has been emphasised that environmental quality and the quality of life could only be improved if supported by political commitment and adequate funding. There has been enough talk, enough papers and enough discussion, but too little action.

Equinox 2000 exhibits an array of innovative European projects, demonstrating that we now are aware of the issues and possess the technology, the designers and the ability to realise major transformations. Conference speakers brought up the problems and articulated their proposed solutions. The question is now if the EU is able to turn policy and funding into a meaningful reality instead of leaving them as a handful of schemes that sit on tables like art objects. The transformation needs to be made at a global scale; only small-scale initiatives are no longer sufficient. Institutions like the EU have the structure and the funds to make these global changes that are vital for the survival of our communities. Speakers showed how these transformations can be achieved through projects needing little if any more funds than ordinary projects. What they do need are politicians who are willing to take the risk doing things differently and are determined break ground.

What can be done?

The participants:

Paul Lannoye: President of the group of green parties at the European parliament, represented by his assistant Dominique Berger


«In the role of the assistant of Paul Lannoye, I welcome you in the conference room of the green parties in the European Parliament, a place where traditionally actions by the European Commission are either supported, appreciated or rejected.»

«The study group TAPED is invited here for the purpose of presenting and explaining current and future developments in the struggle for urban ecology. There indeed exist only few general policies with regards to this theme within the European Commission or within the group of green parties. For example on the issue of environmental construction, we have not gone beyond the level of some general and traditional counselling: use environmentally friendly materials, ventilate toxic chemical emissions, choose non-lethal materials, use our resources scarcely (they are not renewable), protect yourselves from electrical radiation, do not breathe in toxic gasses, do not increase the hole in the ozone layer any further, do not swallow dioxins, etc.»

«But who can provide us with more details on all these topics? There exists no European code to serve as guideline, nor do we have any Civil Code or Decalog: allowed / not allowed. Meanwhile, the Belgian Ecolo party has performed its part of the thinking about developing general rules for the habitat and the environment from a global perspective (the only truly ecological way) and has tried to motivate and harmonise analytical research centres. Ecolo has proposed to support Eco-construction by trying to persuade the general public of its benefits and by offering motivating fiscal compensations for those undertaking such projects. Furthermore, official case studies with pedagogical purposes will be initiated, energy savings and the production of energy from renewable resources will be rewarded, pollution and waste of resources will be punished, dealing with one's own waste will be encouraged, ecological associations will be protected etc.»

«We have to enlighten all actors and then unite them.»

Dennis Sharp, Dennis Sharp Architects, London


Architectural critic.

Dennis Sharp focused on the aesthetics of sustainability and the exciting new expression and form of an architecture more in tune with nature and the human psyche. Showing prototypes of arcologies (architecture + ecology) Sharp demonstrated how it is possible to design cities which are self sufficient in energy needs and encourage social interaction. The mistake of the 60s developments was to develop an architecture focused entirely on form and function. A city without culture, art and expression is a soulless entity and has no place in a sustainable development. Indeed cities like, Bilbao have excelled in their attempts at regeneration and sustainable development by using culture (the Guggenheim Museum) as a vehicle for change.

Margot Wallström: European Commissioner for Environment, represented by Herbert Aichinger head of Unit Directorate-General Environment


While Mr. Aichinger's lecture was more related to his personal professional interests, this was complementary to the general theme of the conference. Energy savings and its priorities, green engineering.

Illustrations: decrease of overall requirements for energy generation; decrease in carbon dioxide emissions.

Programs:Combined heat and power, Renewable energy, Energy efficiency, Energy small part of total running costs, Continuous decrease of energy prices since early 1990, Low replacement rate of building stock, Energy efficiency low priority with actors involved with buildings.

Instruments at EU level: Technological demonstration THERMIE, Research and development, Urban programmes, Regional funds, Regional and urban energy planning, SAVE - energy efficiency ALTERNATING - renewable

A view to the future: Innovative and/or recyclable building materials, Energy efficiency in manufacturing process of building materials, Construction processes integrating low energy features, Large and small scale integrated solutions for heat and cooling building technology demonstration priorities:

Lucien Kroll: Architect AUAI


People, Politics and the Environment.

The anti-marchandisation movement moves on, slowly and even courteously. Even in ecology, an effort has to be made to relocate energy savings in its proper context as an aspect of broader civilisation. For whether saving or spending still means the marchandisation of the planet. In each project, the «three ecology's» of Félix Guattari need to be co-ordinated: the social, the mental and the physical (green engineering).

The French HQE label (Haute Qualité; Environementale - High Environ-mental Quality) is unique: it is a miraculously holistic set of standards, inging all parties involved in the construction project together in a desire to succeed. The entailed process addresses all environmental matters at once, giving the op-portunity for all contradictions to be balanced out. The technical lyceum of Caudry in the Nord-Pas de Calais Region is the first complete example.

Yasmin Sharif, Dennis Sharp Architects


Innovation in Europe.

Design skills in Europe are underused largely because most Government organisations that commission buildings fail to understand that energy efficient architecture requires increased capital funding to achieve decreased maintenance costs. These institutions are very conservative and therefore commission conventional buildings, as they are unable to take the risk of something new. Most innovative projects in Europe are in Germany and the Netherlands because these governments support new initiatives more than other Europeans. In Britain, where government accounts for 40% of building construction there is a vast amount said, written and spoken on sustainable development but very little is built.

Ekhart Hahn, University of Dortmund


Environmental changes.

Fossil energy sources become scarce and prices rise, but the real problem is not its price but the lack of interest our leaders express for the laws of nature. The undtland report and more recently GEO 2000 entice us to reduce the lev-els of CO2 and all other polluting exhausts to one tenth during the course of this century. To reach such a level, it will be necessary to get rid completely of the current fossil phase of «Jurassic» industrialisation. Fundamental changes will occur, redirecting our technological vision from «industrial tanker» into one of «post-industrial sailboat». Sailboats require co-operation between man and nature: a good example for construction industry.

Jon Kristinsson, University of Delft


Architect, Construction intervention.

Upon a closer look, the process of new construction should only come on the fourth place of the priorities list:

  1. Reorganisation or reuse rather than demolition.
  2. Where to build: proximity of buildings and public transportation networks.
  3. Spatial conditions, flexibility and sustainable beauty.
  4. Quality of the construction: what would the future generations like to inherit.
Jon Kristinsson's Schiedam project provides us with a clear illustration of the subject: environmental qualities are strongly emphasised. For example energy savings of up to 95% are realised (Factor 20, after Amory Lovins, Natural Capitalism, Earthscan Publ.)

Pierre-Augustin Lefèvre: Architect, professor at the Ecole d'Architecture de la Villette, Paris


Ecologie Urbaine.

Pierre Lefèvre traces the history of projects with high environmental qualities (HQE) in France, their success and vulgarisation. From the point of view of administration, the label for high environmental quality HQE came after the introduction of a label for high-energy efficiency (Haute Performance Energétique). A series of environmental goals to reach being defined but construction not being authorised to experiment for social housing projects, no additional costs were admitted. As a result this sector was not able to benefit from the initiative. HQE was picked up on the level of the «Regions», and it was the Région du Nord-Pas de Calais who introduced this standard for its technical lyceums to be built. The first project in Calais has received a green colour after its initial colour had been gold. The second building project in Caudry achieved to make some innovations. Already the third educational project is considered a «canalisation» of HQE: could this mean that whether all new lyceums will automatically have to incorporate HQE standards, or else that a more uninspired version will be sufficient in the future? Fortunately the EU is attributing funding to sustainable development. This creates a healthy spin-off, however without this being a guarantee for the quality of the research, its financing or its timeframe. This is the danger of not reaching further than statements and superficial promises without incorporating them into a severely evaluated construction.

Peter Thoelen: VIBE, Berchem


Energy saving construction often lacks broader link with sustainability.

From a bio-ecological point of view, energy saving constructions are definitely a priority in sustainable construction. But energy saving is, according to the integral vision of bio-ecology, only one of the priorities. In order to build according to the genuine principles of sustainable development, it is also necessary to take into account other criteria, such as water management, use of space and the application of renewable and locally available materials. Furthermore, we have to be aware that we'll have to redefine our western notion of modern standards of living', if we need to cut down the ecological footprint' that we leave on the earth's surface.

Henri Simons: Adjunct to the Mayor for townplanning, participation and housing of the city of Brussels


Investir la Ville.

Henri Simons has taken upon the task to slowly and patiently transform some sinister Brussels habits (demolish, mostly illegally in order to be able to build brutal objects with no relationship with the site, the people, the past, the future.) into sustainable development, in the administration as well as with building developers. Mr. Simons considers citizen participation as a natural condition. His tools are the following:

Fecha de referencia: 13-12-2000

Boletín CF+S > 14 -- Hacia una arquitectura y un urbanismo basados en criterios bioclimáticos >

Edita: Instituto Juan de Herrera. Av. Juan de Herrera 4. 28040 MADRID. ESPAÑA. ISSN: 1578-097X
Ciudades para un Futuro más Sostenible
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Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
Grupo de Investigación en Arquitectura, Urbanismo y Sostenibilidad
Departamento de Estructuras y Física de la EdificaciónDepartamento de Urbanística y Ordenación del Territorio