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.

New ICTA-UAB map shows success, concerns and challenges of the transition away from fossil fuels and coal industry in Australia

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ICTA-UAB researcher Victoria Reyes-García receives an ERC Consolidator Grant

ICREA researcher at ICTA-UAB Victoria Reyes- García has been graced with a Consolidator Grant of the European Research Council (ERC) for the development of a project aimed at bringing insights from local knowledge to climate change research.

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".

Blockadia map by ICTA-UAB reveals global scale of anti-fossil fuel movement

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

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Green gentrification can limit the favourable effects of green areas on health

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Oil contamination in the Amazon modifies chemical composition of rivers

A scientific study by the ICTA-UAB and ISS-EUR quantifies the environmental impact of oil extraction activities and contamination in headwaters of the Amazon.

ICTA-UAB researchers alert that oil palm plantations produce infertility in tropical lands

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EJAtlas Includes 2,100 Case Studies on Socio-Environmental Conflicts Around the World

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Ice age thermostat prevented extreme climate cooling

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The New Theory of Economic “Agrowth” Contributes to the Viability of Climate Policies

 ICTA-UAB researcher Jeroen van den Bergh publishes in Nature Climate Change a study in which he proposes a new economic theory compatible with the fight against climate change.

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.
Building-integrated rooftop greenhouses: An energy and environmental assessment in the Mediterranean context

Date: 2017-10-02

Building-integrated rooftop greenhouses: An energy and environmental assessment in the Mediterranean context

World urbanization is projected to reach 69% in 2050 and therefore, food production requires closer examination. Urban agriculture is seen as an innovative solution which can offer sustainable food supplies within the urban context especially due to limited access to green spaces. Therefore soil-free rooftop greenhouses are seen as a viable option for food production. The energy consumption in both buildings and greenhouses is high and recycling of energy, carbon dioxide and water can be achieved through the integrated rooftop greenhouse. The major challenge to this advancement is insufficient empirical data.

In a recent paper published in Applied Energy, Ana Nadal and colleagues reported measured data outlining the symbiotic relationship between the integrated rooftop greenhouse and the building in terms of energy, and quantified the heating energy recycled by the greenhouse from the building.

A 7-storey building which houses 4 rooftop greenhouses each measuring 128 m2 enabled this study. The research team focused on one of the greenhouses with a crop area of 84.34 m2, which uses low-density polyethylene curtains as well as a thermal screen. This improves the internal heat condition and insulates the space from the rest of the building. The thermal screen and curtains are both automatically operated as a function of the internal temperature of the greenhouse. The research period was between December 2014 and December 2015.

The authors noted that the average seasonal temperatures in the integrated rooftop greenhouse ranged from 16.5 °C during winter with a minimum of 6.3 °C, to 25.9 °C during summer with a maximum of 39.7 °C. This was within the recommended optimum range of 14-26 °C. At winter nights with outdoor temperatures dropping to -3.6 °C, the greenhouse temperature was 6.3 °C which was as a result of the thermal inertia that the concrete floor provided, as well as the application of the curtains and thermal screen to minimize thermal loss. This translates to better thermal conditions and energy savings when compared with conventional free-standing greenhouses.

It was further observed that the greenhouse’s thermal behavior closely resembled that of the building’s atrium as opposed to the outside conditions, with the greatest difference being in autumn and winter.
The authors compared the researched rooftop greenhouse with a simulated free-standing greenhouse and noted that the indoor climate of the research greenhouse met the optimum temperature range condition in over 76.3% of annual hours. However, the free-standing greenhouse under similar climatic conditions would meet this condition in 42.4% of annual hours in an unheated condition and 65.1% of annual hours when heated, which is due to higher instances of summertime overheating of a freestanding greenhouse. The simulation result shows a free-standing greenhouse would have required a total heating demand of about 43.78 MWh with a peak heating load of 66.62 kW, and this provides a scale of the total recycled heat by the actual building integrated greenhouse.

A comparison of a heated greenhouse and the research greenhouse, in terms of carbon and financial savings, shows that the former’s heating demand would produce 113.8kg CO2(eq)/m2/yr at a cost of 19.63 €/m2/yr when an oil boiler is used. These savings demonstrated in the study show the viability of integrating greenhouses into buildings.

Ana Nadal, Pere Llorach-Massana, Eva Cuerva, Elisa López-Capel, Juan Ignacio Montero, Alejandro Josa, Joan Rieradevall, Mohammad Royapoor. Building-integrated rooftop greenhouses: An energy and environmental assessment in the Mediterranean context. Applied Energy 187 (2017) 338-351.

(Published in Advances in Engineering)

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