Canary Islands green vacation homes ‘need’ tourists

15 August 11

| Green Travel News |

The Bioclimatic Houses of Tenerife, a village of unique eco-homes, invite you to stay with them on your next visit to the Canary Islands—and if you do, you’ll be helping to determine which of these green designs work best. Only 25 of the homes (known as Casas Bioclimáticas on this Spanish island) were selected for construction from nearly 400 designs submitted by internationally known architects. Each offers its own adaptation to local climate and means of achieving energy self-sufficiency, via such elements as extra-thick walls, solar panels, below-ground rooms and wind-powered air conditioning. Sea water is treated for drinking by the village’s desalination plant, and all the houses were built using natural, recyclable materials.

El Muro, Casa Bioclimatica on Tenerife, Canary Islands

Bioclimatic 'El Muro'

Examples: La Estrella, designed by Madrid-based architects, is built from local yellow pumice stone in a star shape to maximize natural light and has a living “green roof” planted in aromatic rosemary; it sleeps six. French-designed El Rio sleeps four and has high glass walls and a stream that meanders through on its way from garden to pool. The smaller La Arcilla is a “Mediterranean oasis in the Atlantic” that uses natural materials like clay, lime, wood to combine traditional techniques for building in a hot, dry climate with the possibilities of modern eco-technology; it accommodates two guests.

All the houses have sensors to monitor things like temperature, humidity and air movement, and the data collected will be used by the project developers to figure out which designs are most successful (and thus are the best candidates to copy elsewhere on the Canaries or anywhere with a similar climate). To get useful data, however, vacationers need to occupy them—opening and closing windows, doors and curtains; creating heat and humidity in the bathrooms and kitchens. 

Miren Iriarte, the project’s development manager, notes that up to half of all energy consumed on Tenerife is in homes. “So there is a real need to find a way of reducing that. Another aim is to show that sustainable building can be beautiful.”

Another reason to book your green vacation home here: 48 percent of the island of Tenerife is protected as national, natural or rural park land.

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