Marine Litter on Mediterranean Beaches Triples in Summer

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) analyses and quantifies the waste generated by tourists in eight islands of the Mediterranean as part of the European BLUEISLANDS project.

Mapping the Urban Vitality of Barcelona

Researchers at the UAB have mapped Barcelona and and 9 surrounding towns using a new methodology based on urbanism activist Jane Jacobs' ideas on how cities should be configured to become vital spaces: 25% of the area is classified as having high vitality.

ICTA-UAB Gathers Worldwide Experts on Degrowth and Environmental Justice

ICTA-UAB is organizing the fifth edition of the Summer School on Degrowth and Environmental Justice from June 24 to July 6.

Agricultural intensification not a “blueprint” for sustainable development

Social and ecological results of increased agricultural intensification are not as positive as expected.

Tracking the battles for environmental justice: here are the world’s top 10

Today is World Environment Day. Environmental conflicts should not be seen as disruptions to smooth governance, fixable with market solutions, technology or police bullets.

Green urban planning must consider social equity criteria

Cities that do not include social equity criteria into their political strategies to make their urban environment greener and more ecological will not achieve long-term sustainability and risk creating green enclaves only for the social elite.

The ICTA-UAB alerts of a new invasive Asian beetle pest in Catalonia that kills mulberry trees

A study by researcher of the ICTA-UAB and the Department of Agriculture Víctor Sarto i Monteys has identified in the province of Barcelona the presence of a species from Asia that could spread through Europe.

More than 120 ICTA-UAB researchers addressed environmental challenges at a symposium, especially those arising from global and...

The Institut of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) organized its 1st Spring Symposium with the aim of addressing some of the main environmental and sustainability challenges.

Spain: Industry sides with science

Organizations of the industry, and associations connected to R+D+i express their support towards research, backing the petition of the Severo Ochoa and María de Maeztu alliance (SOMMa) which advocates in favour of the political class acting to clear the administrative problems currently affecting science in Spain.

Low-carbon energy transition requires more renewables than previously thought

A new study by ICTA-UAB analyzes the impacts on lifestyles of substituting fossil fuels for cleaner energies.

Are Farmers Who Belong to Local User Associations Better Adapted to Climate Change?

Droughts, floods and high temperatures derived from climate change are not the only threats that farmers with irrigated crops must face.

Climate Change Threatens World's Largest Seagrass Carbon Stores

Shark Bay seagrass carbon storage hotspot suffers alarming losses after a devastating marine heat wave, according to a study led by ICTA-UAB researchers.

Amazon's indigenous people hunt animals feeding in areas contaminated by oil spills

A study by the ICTA-UAB and the UAB Department of Animal Health and Anatomy demonstrates that the main species hunted by the indigenous popoulations of the Peruvian Amazon ingest water and soil contaminated with hidrocarbons and heavy metals.

The new Planttes app warns of allergy risks in different urban areas

The Planttes application is a citizen science project which aims to encourage people to identify and locate on a map the existence of allergy-causing plants and indicate their phenological state.

Global climate treaty easier to negotiate if guided by Human Development Index

A study by ICTA-UAB concludes that agreements against climate change would be more attractive to rich countries if they were analyzed taking into account the Human Development Index, instead of GDP.

New Project to Link Extreme Weather Events, Atmospheric Biodiversity and Human Health

A new ICTA-UAB project led by researcher Jordina Belmonte will study the effects of extreme meteorological events on the biological biodiversity present in the atmosphere in order to predict changes in the environment and possible affectations on human health.

Bolivian Amazon on road to deforestation

Amazon biodiversity hotspot to suffer even more “alarming” losses after contentious law passed, according to a study involving ICTA-UAB researchers.

ICTA-UAB’s success: five ERC grants in two years

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) has been awarded five European Research Council (ERC) grants in two years, which is about ten per cent of all ERC grants arriving in Catalonia over the period from the end of 2015 to the end of 2017.

Scientists Alert of Swift Degradation of Marine Ecosystems and Grave Consequences for the Planet

A book edited by researchers from the ICTA-UAB, the UB, the CNRS and the IEO addresses the concept of "animal forest" and highlights the importance of the role seas and oceans have in combating climate change.

Research to study the health effects of forests

The ICTA-UAB, CREAF and the "la Caixa" Bank Foundation recently presented the project "Healthy Forests for a Healthy Society".

Launch of the Alliance of Severo Ochoa Centres and Maria de Maeztu Units of Excellence

​ The Secretary of State for R&D+i, Carmen Vela, chaired the kickoff meeting of the new Severo Ochoa and Maria Maeztu Alliance of Excellence.

Ice age thermostat prevented extreme climate cooling

During the ice ages, an unidentified regulatory mechanism prevented atmospheric CO2 concentrations from falling below a level that could have led to runaway cooling, reports a study conducted by researchers of the ICTA-UAB and published online in Nature Geoscience this week.

New ICTA-UAB 'Welcome Guide'

The new ICTA-UAB 'Welcome Guide' it is at your disposal now. With this document, we aim to help you discover the basics of the PhD programme, ICTA-UAB’s structure, etc.
About us
The ICTA-UAB's building, an emblematic construction

Located at the southern entrance to the UAB campus, the headquarters of ICTA-ICP has a surface area of 9,400 square metres distributed on 6 floors, four of which are equipped with offices, laboratories and common areas, one with a car park and another with several storage areas, including a large warehouse with fossils and a greenhouse. The construction cost 8 million euros and was co-financed by European funds for regional development projects (2007-2013 FEDER programme of Catalonia) and the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.

The new offices for ICTA and ICP were designed with the highest possible criteria of sustainability by two architecture groups, dataAE and H Arquitectes. The objective was clearly focused on sustainability regarding water and energy consumption, as well as the building materials used. The building achieved a LEED GOLD certification by the US Green Building Council, with a score of 73 points. The certification is based on international standards and awarded to those with a strong commitment to the environment.

Heat in the Winter and Cooling in the Summer

The building consists mainly of offices and laboratories which, given their activities, tend to generate heat. The building's design aims to make use of this heat in the winter and disperse it during the summer through natural ventilation. Four inner courtyards make up a large central atrium which guarantees an optimal quality of natural light for all the plants. A concrete structure with high thermal inertia works directly together with the passive comfort systems of the building.

A Bioclimatic Outer Skin

The outer façade of the building contains a “bioclimatic skin”, a system comparable to a greenhouse which regulates the storage of solar radiation and ventilation through a series of automatic openings and closings. Its outer skin opens and closes automatically depending on the temperature, humidity, wind or sunlight, in order to offer the best bioclimatic conditions inside the building at all times. Thus, an intermediate area with temperatures between 16 and 30ºC is created, and this acts as a thermal cushion which helps to maintain a temperature of comfort in the working areas. At the same time, it reduces energy demands and improves temperatures inside in a completely natural way. These areas are equipped with the most adequate plants for each space, and therefore favour the presence of nature inside the building, while helping to regulate humidity.

The working areas are found inside this area, with an improved climate thanks to the isolation of closed structures, comparable to large "wooden boxes", which contribute to providing conditions of comfort.

The building's control system has been programmed so that the bioclimatic skin, office windows, and all active climate controls work in coordination to prioritise a passive performance system and minimise the use of non-renewable energies. A complex automated computer control system processes and manages data to ensure the best levels of comfort and energy usage. The building makes use of all contact existing between its two underground stories and the earth as a preliminary stage for the building's air renovation, through geothermal systems which take advantage of underground temperatures. It will also give support to the passive systems at specific times, thanks to a cooling machine with high efficiency magnetic levitation compressors. Thanks to these elements, the building was certified as being in the A category of energy efficiency, with up to 62% less consumption than what is needed to run a conventional building of similar dimensions.

A 90% Reduction in Water Consumption

The building takes into account the full cycle of water usage in order to optimise consumption needs based on the reuse of rainwater and white, grey and black waters. By doing so, there is a 90% reduction in the water consumption needed for a conventional building of similar dimensions. Highly efficient elements have been installed, such as dry urinals, low-capacity toilets, tap aerators and sensors, and water-wise landscaping. Rainwater is gathered from the roof of the building, the cemented areas and the adjoining building: one part will be for irrigation and the rest will be filtered and disinfected, and later used for dishwashers and toilets. Grey waters will be regenerated and used for flushing. Wastewater will be treated through phyto-purification and the solid part will be used as compost.

Reduction in the Environmental Impact of Construction Materials

With the aim of reducing the amount of construction materials used, no false ceilings or technical floors were installed, and constructive solutions and materials with lower ecological baggage were put to use, thereby lowering energy consumption and emissions both when constructing the building and producing waste. Materials were chosen with mineral structures containing high thermal inertia and a long useful life, combined with materials of low environmental impact. Importance was given to organic or recycled materials and reversible and reusable dry construction systems. The earth dug up was later used around the building, thus making use of the area's resources.

Video of the ICTA-UAB Building (4m 20s) (in Catalan)

Photos of the ICTA-UAB Building
ICTA-UAB Building: Outer façade ICTA-UAB Building: Interior spaces (1) ICTA-UAB Building: Interior spaces (2)
ICTA-UAB Building: Resting area ICTA-UAB Building: Greenhouse ICTA-UAB Building: Research Labs
ICTA-UAB Building: Greenhouse ICTA-UAB Building: Ouside view ICTA-UAB Building: Aerial view
ICTA's Activities