ICTA-UAB economist Joan Martínez Alier wins the Balzan Prize for Environmental Challenges

Economist Joan Martínez Alier from the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology  of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) is one of the winners of the 2020 Balzan Prize in the category of "Environmental Challenges: Responses from the Social Sciences and Humanities".

Indigenous People Essential to Understanding Environmental Change

An international research involving ICTA-UAB scientists shows how local and indigenous knowledge can help manage ecosystems and wildlife.

New publication in the MAGIC project takes a critical look at circular economy

With the world’s attention focussed on COVID-19, issues that were in the forefront of public concern just a few months ago seem to have magically disappeared.

Economic Benefits of Protecting 30% of Planet’s Land and Ocean Outweigh the Costs at Least 5-to-1

First-of-its-kind report involving ICTA-UAB researcher shows the global economy is better off with more nature protected.

ICTA-UAB awarded the "María de Maeztu” Unit of Excellence Award for the second consecutive time

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) has been accredited a Maria de Maeztu Unit of Excellence Award for the second consecutive time by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation.

Proyecto experimental de agricultura urbana, local y tradicional en Sabadell

El ICTA-UAB y el Ayuntamiento de Sabadell constituyen la comunidad FoodE, que reúne a todos los actores implicados en el sistema de producción alimentaria de la ciudad y en esta iniciativa.

What do we breathe when in the forest?

For the first time, a study characterizes the forest chemistry of the air under the canopy of a Mediterranean holm oak forest and detects maximum concentrations in July and August.

Catalonia's Scientific Contributions to Fighting Covid-19

Sixty ICREA researchers, including Isabelle Anguelovski of the ICTA-UAB, lead more than a hundred research activities on Covid-19.

Academia in the Time of COVID-19: Towards an Ethics of Care


Computer Platform Gives Visibility to Catalonia's Small Villages

A research team from the UAB, in collaboration with the Association of Microvillages of Catalonia, has created a Geographic Information System (GIS) for Active and Sustainable Hamlets (GISASH), which gathers information on the state of and services offered by the more than 330 municipalities in Catalonia with fewer than 500 inhabitants.

Environmental justice defenders victims of violence and murder

Grassroots movements halt environmental degradation in up to 27% of environmental conflicts worldwide, according to a study by the ICTA-UAB.

Technological changes and new low-carbon lifestyles, key to mitigating climate change impacts

In order to mitigate climate change impacts and achieve a more sustainable society, it is necessary to transform the current energy system based on fossil fuels into a model based on renewable energies.

Exploring climate change impacts through popular proverbs

Members of an irrigation community doing maintenance work in an acequia de careo (irrigation canal built at the top of the mountain) to improve the circulation of water for irrigation and human consumption.

Neolithic vessels reveal dairy consumption in Europe 7,000 years ago

Pottery from the site located in Verson (Francia) analysed during the research (Picture by Annabelle Cocollos, Conseil départemental du Calvados ou CD14 publicada en Germain-Vallée et al.

Economic growth is incompatible with biodiversity conservation

A study involving more than 20 specialists in conservation ecology and ecological economics highlights the contradiction between economic growth and biodiversity conservation.

Power struggles hinder urban adaptation policies to climate change

Transformative actions implemented by cities to address and mitigate the impacts of climate change may be hindered by political struggles for municipal power.

Analysis of tropical fire soot deposited in the ocean will help predict future global climate changes

The ICTA-UAB begins a scientific expedition in the Atlantic Ocean to collect dust and smoke samples from the fires of tropical Africa deposited in marine sediments.

Red coral effectively recovers in Mediterranean protected areas after decades of overexploitation

Protection measures of the Marine Protected Areas have enable red coral colonies (Corallium rubrum) to recover partially in the Mediterranean Sea, reaching health levels similar to those of the 1980s in Catalonia and of the 1960s in the Ligurian Sea (Northwestern Italy).

Sub-national “climate clubs” could offer key to combating climate change

‘Climate clubs’ offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally-harmonised climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.
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
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