To measure sustainability in construction means to measure the improvements with respect to the reference values established at the time of the projects beginning. These reference values depend on local climate factors, common construction systems in the area, cultural requirements, social models or economic limitations in the market. It is important to be able to adopt and integrate valuable national and international practices but each neighbourhood has its own challenges and objectives. Energy demands between Spain and England are not the same, nor the level of rainfall recycled between Valencia and Stockholm. Reference values are relative.
In the appendix, you will find examples of eco-neighbourhoods from recent decades in Spain and Europe. All are well-known, exemplified by studies and publications. Some have transversed sustainability resolving many issues at once, while others have concentrated on certain aspects such as renewable energy, waste recycling, transport or water management.
A project like La Pinada eco-neighbourhood works with sustainability in a transversal way (economic, social and environmental) under an umbrella of cultural values inherent to a locality:
Low carbon mobility and sharing modes of transportation: La Pinada offers electric transport per demand in a metropolitan area to reduce the use of individual vehicles. Within the neighbourhood, mobility is reduced to pedestrian and cyclist traffic. Eco-city Györ and the Hammarby Sjöstad neighbourhood in Stockholm have devoted a lot to improve mobility in urban spaces.
Energy – consumption almost zero and low carbon: La Pinada will reduce energy dependence to a minimum, working towards buildings with very low energy demands and its own production of renewable energy. Without doubt, the great international example is the BedZED neighbourhood developed in England in the 2000s. The Sarriguren project in Navarra decided to include bioclimatic concepts as key to its design for the purposes of reducing energy demands to a minimum.
Social network – the co-creation and house accessibility: La Pinada defines its model of living according to the future necessities of inhabitants and offers designs with flexible structures so that they are easily adaptable. Changes to coexistence structures allow families to flourish, the old to share spaces with children and allow the young to improve the neighbourhood they grew up in. A flexible structure must facilitate these models. The Vauban and Trinitat Nova neighbourhoods have underscored forms of consulting and take decisions together with the neighbours.
Business environment and innovation incentive: La Pinada utilizes a business model that considers the scale of a neighbourhood and offers its neighbors spaces and services that stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship. Sarriguren in Navarra has installed a centre for innovation in its neighbourhood.
Materials and circular economy: La Pinada establishes a specified approach to control the unnecessary flow of materials. It will perform the selection and management of construction materials according to their future effects on the productive cycle of recycled materials. Within the the neighbourhood, the management of organic waste recycling will be done locally and will facilitate infrastructure for the separation and recycling of all urban waste. In Vauban and BedZED they adopted healthy and local materials.
Ethical purchasing and social terms: La Pinada in addition to generating a positive environmental impact, regards its internal behaviour as an organisation as caring for the labour environment, valuing the comprehensive development of people that form their team, favouring reconciliation, offering flexible hours etc. Furthermore, it favours social terms in relation to its providers, the development of local talent and innovative business tissue, and advocates transparency.
Water, recycling and reuse: La Pinada is aware that the management of water in our climate is fundamental. The collection of rainwater and recycling of greywater are technologically feasible and as such it is a duty to standardise this. BedZED and Györ in Hungría planned the management of water for domestic reuse and the watering of its green areas.
Biodiversity and landscape: La Pinada is a neighbourhood where people coexist directly with their natural surroundings. Biodiversity will increase and convert the landscape into a place to live, learn and enjoy. La Pinada promotes permeability of its terrain so as to provide common spaces between neighbours. Ile de Nantes and Hammarby Sjöstad are urban spaces, but worked towards introducing nature and in turn guarantee a fresh and healthy locality.