In the program n. 009 of “Pi por Radio” (broadcast on 05/05/2016 in connection from Buenos Aires with The Innova Room office in Madrid) we had the presence of Pedro Mariñelarena, architect expert in bio-sustainable passive construction and Certified Designer by Passivhaus. Pedro is a co-founding partner of Estudio I.M Arquitectos, together with the architect Itziar Iriarte. Likewise, he is a member of the Passivhaus Building Platform (PEP), a non-profit entity that promotes passive buildings in Spain, and is an active speaker to spread these standards. On this occasion we invite you to share his knowledge with us, especially in the business potential that it would mean for the hotel sector if sustainable construction uses are adopted in refurbishent or new construction.
What is Passivhaus?
The Passivhaus concept (Passive House in English) emerged in Germany in 1991, from where it has spread throughout the world. The Passivhaus Institute (PHI) advocates construction standards based on greater environmental comfort and lower energy consumption in buildings. The name “passive house” refers to the ideal of comfort obtained through proper orientation, insulation, design of the envelope to take advantage of the natural conditions of sunlight and ventilation and purity of the air, etc.
Compared to the standard energy consumption in Central Europe, a Passivhaus building consumes an average of 80% less energy than a conventional one for its conditioning. In Spain, with milder winters but hot summers, the average savings is around 60% less.
Pedro Mariñelarena comments in the interview that the first consequence of achieving a passive building is the impact of saving on consumption, with the consequent improvement in the hotel’s P&L. Not only that, but the greater environmental comfort provided by a well-designed hotel in any climatic circumstance improves the customer experience and their perception of the service.
In addition, achieving an improvement is not exclusive to new buildings (where there is greater potential for intervention), but in existing hotels it is possible to carry out partial reforms that achieve these important benefits. To do this, an intervention scaled over time can be planned, which makes the modifications in a staggered manner, minimally affecting the operating business, and spreading the investment cost over several years.
Currently, what will be the largest Passivhaus certified hotel in the country (Arima) is being built in Spain, which will be an important milestone in the sector. (Post update: Arima Hotel was open at 2017). In other locations there are numerous examples, such as the Explorer Hotel in Germany, which illustrates the cover of this article.
Eco-efficient tourist destinations
Finally, Pedro commented in the interview that in a twist one could even think of the generation of Passive Cities, or eco-efficient tourist destinations from the design of their urban fabric to the buildings themselves. And where the buildings constitute passive energy production cells, focused on urban environmental improvement. In Germany and other countries there are already residential developments planned with these principles, so its extension to the tourist world as a lever for the repositioning of a destination does not seem utopic.
The image above corresponds to the campus that Cornell Tech is building in New York, which will be the highest Passivhaus certified building to date.
Since Spain leads the world tourism industry, why not even become a sustainable country-destination?