Guillermo Cifuentes, the president of the Community of Owners Torrelago Phase I states that the project was absolutely necessary: “We believed in the project from the very beginning because it was obvious that we needed a retrofitting; the poor insulation and bad conditions of the façades resulted in very high energy losses. Now, we can confirm that the project has been a success, with many benefits for the dwelling owners and, in general, the neighbors are very happy.” Xena Gallego, President Administrator of the Community of Owners Torrelago Phase II, reinforced this idea: “As a promoter, Torrelago Phase II is experiencing this event as a big change, a transformation that can be seen and felt, from the outside appearance, where gardens and open spaces reclaim their place, to the inside comfort, where this winter the effect of the insulation could already be appreciated, with the resulting savings that it implied.”
One of the aspects from this retrofitting to be highlighted is the comfort improvement inside the dwellings since the temperature loss during the night is reduced due to the buildings’ insulation. José Lorenzo Pérez Galache, secretary of the Communnity of Owners Torrelago Phase I, highlights the benefits of the retrofitting: “The results are fabulous from the esthetical point of view and the insulation can be easily noticed, both in winter and summer. The dwelling keeps a good temperature for a long time; I live in a sixth floor and during this winter the temperature has never dropped below 22 degrees (Celsius), even during the hours when the heating was off.”
The energy retrofitting of Torrelago, which is the biggest in Europe regarding refurbished area (around 140.000 m2), has been carried out by 3IA Ingeniería y Construcción Técnica, leading company specialized in this kind of façade’s treatment, among other fields. They were also in charge of restoring the gardens that surround the buildings. In order to fulfill those requirements, materials of the best quality have been used both in insulation (λ ≤ 0,037 W/mK), reducing a 30% the thermal transmittance, and in external coating with mortar that contains silanes and siloxanes, which provide the façades with self-cleaning properties, with antibacterial and anti-mold features that improve the durability of the system and overcome the regulatory requirements regarding the behavior to fire. This retrofitting is framed inside the European Project CITyFiED, which is being developed jointly in Laguna de Duero (Spain), Lund (Sweden), and Soma (Turkey). This plan has as an objective the implementation of a model based on energy efficiency that can be replicable to other European cities. The strategy, which pretends to transform the urban ecosystems in the smart cities of the future, is focused on the reduction of the energy demand and the CO2 emissions, as well as the incentives to use clean energies and the development of innovative technologies for the refurbishment of the buildings.
In Torrelago District, CITyFiED project is driven by a consortium of companies: Veolia, 3IA Ingeniería y Construcción Técnica, Acciona Infraestructuras, Mondragón, CARTIF, Tecnalia and the Municipality of Laguna de Duero. Regarding the construction works, the project has been organized in two main interventions: the insulation of the façades and the complete renovation of the two existing district heating networks to transform them into a unique system that combines biomass and natural gas. In order to fulfill this it was necessary to build a new boiler room that includes biomass boilers of the latest technologies. This project consist on a comprehensive rehabilitation that aims to improve the energy efficiency of the buildings, reducing the consumption of fossil fuels due to the integration of biomass in the system and preventing from energy losses through the façades due to its new insulating envelope.
Advantages for the neighbours
Veolia, world reference in optimized resource management, is the company in charge of the retrofitting works involving the district heating network that supplies the neighbors with heating and domestic hot water, as well as the company in charge of the operation and maintenance of the facilities. This system uses natural gas and wood chips original from the forests of the region. The objective of this project is to achieve that the biomass provides, at least, the 80% of the energy produced by the district heating network, whose energy mix makes it possible to assure the neighbors the energy supply at all times with a balanced cost.
The retrofitting of Torrelago district has, in addition, an economic benefit for both communities of owners (phases I and II), since the savings obtained are reinvested in the community. These improvements, which do not involve an extra charge for the neighbors, place the neighborhood on the way to fulfill the established objective regarding energy savings. However, it is the responsibility of the users to achieve the peak levels in energy savings through the launch of the implemented measures consisting on the installation of energy metering systems and individual temperature control systems, in a way that each dwelling can adjust the comfort conditions according to their requirements.
The refurbishment included the installation of the energy metering systems and the individual thermostats that give the neighbors the possibility to decide the temperature of their home. This measure, which was one of the requirements from the European directive, allows the neighborhood to be ready for future needs in terms of energy savings.
Every neighbor will have access to a personalized web platform where they can check all the information related to their energy consumption. “In order to inform and advice the neighbors about how are they going to be impacted by this refurbishment, we have created a commission in which participate the board, the presidents of each building and every other neighbor who wishes to join them. The neighbors will have access to the information of their real energy consumption through the platform so they are aware of their energy consumption and savings individually” explains Guillermo Cifuentes. Xena Gallego highlights the coordination needed among all the parties involved: “It has been a sluggish evolution that leads to a new stage where the comprehension and support that are always generated in shared projects have been needed.”
Telematic monitoring of the installations - Hubgrade
Torrelago’s district heating is connected to Hubgrade, Veolia’s energy management center which carries out the telematics monitoring of the installation. This innovative solution allows managing Veolia’s installation remotely and up-to-the-minute 365 days a year. Thus, the energy efficiency of the facilities is constantly optimized and every possible malfunction is instantly detected. With this system, the company contributes both with the knowledge of its energy management experts and with a higher transparency, since the users have direct access to all the information through personalized web platforms.
Torrelago district’s energy retrofitting project CITyFiED has received the Emerging Market award in the Global District Energy Climate Awards 2017, which took place in October 2017 in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Doha, Qatar. This event was organized by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Euroheat & Power, which joins different associations, companies and organizations dedicated to district heating and cooling networks.
The project has been acknowledged for avoiding the emission of 3,392 tons of CO2 to the atmosphere each year, which means a reduction on the emissions of over 90%. The objective of this award is to showcase those constructive solutions that bring a solid economic growth with the cohabitation of the users and a reduced environmental impact together.
Accordingly, the retrofitting carried out in Torrelago district is a model of energy efficiency, comfort, savings and commitment with the environment. “Being a model for people from other cities and countries makes us, as neighbors, feeling really proud. We receive many visits from people interested in the project; both professionals and students, as well as people responsible for other communities of owners. We facilitate that people come to visit the project, as we are very proud of the change that we have carried out in our community”, assures José Lorenzo Pérez Galache.