Sustainable property and private sustainable mortgages

What challenge was the inspiration for this project?

Tres Cantos is the youngest municipality in the Madrid area, having been officially established in 1991. And it is where, in 2003, the Arroyo Bodonal cooperative came into being, when a group of local young people decided, with their parents, to develop a building comprising 80 homes using sustainable and energy-efficient criteria so they could continue to live in the town where they grew up.

The social motivation of these families was closely linked to their environmental motivation, “although at first some people said to us that energy efficiency was synonymous with a luxury home,” admits Antonio Martínez, the secretary of Arroyo Bodonal. Nevertheless, they soon proved that “sustainable housing is sellable”. All 80 residences in the development were purchased shortly after being put up for sale, with significant energy-saving and economic results.

What was your innovation that addresses this problem?

This housing project includes the use and control of alternative energies, such as geothermal energy for the heating and air conditioning system and LED lights. Coupled with its insulation system, all of these measures make for an energy saving of over 531,000 kWh. The reduction of the building’s CO2 emissions amounts to 150 tonnes a year, “the equivalent of withdrawing 137 petrol-run cars every year or planting 58 hectares of forest - over 23,000 trees”, according to Arroyo Bodonal.

The building has kinetic recovery lifts and a system for grey water and rainwater reuse that saves around 7,000 m3 of water every year.

The garage, for example, includes battery recharging points for electric cars, contributing to cleaner air. All of the collective lighting uses LEDs, the electrical appliances in the homes are A+++ rated for their high energy efficiency, the lifts work using static accumulation (they consume energy as they go up and accumulate part of that energy as they come down). The ventilation system, which is tailored to each residence, allows for cooling or heating of the air that enters depending on the external temperature.

What impact has Triodos Bank had on your business?

“Triodos Bank did what no other bank had done. Apart from analysing the economic side of the initiative, like any other bank, they audited the project technically to check that it was in line with their goal of sustainability”, explains the secretary of Arroyo Bodonal. “I admit that I did not know about them, but when I contacted their people, I changed my banking philosophy”, says Martínez.

The construction of the development was possible thanks to the contributions of the members of the cooperative and EUR 15 million of finance from Triodos Bank. It also provided access to sustainable mortgages for its residents. The cooperative developers proudly state that “Arroyo Bodonal did not receive a single cent of aid from any public or private institution”.

What impact has your business had on the sector you work in?

This building project represents the largest geothermal energy installation in the municipality of Madrid. It’s also the largest residential project of its type in Europe in terms of the number of homes, the power required for them and the surface area of the building. The success of this development has proven to the entire sector that it is possible to build in a different way, to the highest standards of energy efficiency and without an excessive cost overrun; and all for private housing that are ot necessarily luxury homes or in the countryside. The results of the monitoring of energy consumption confirm the sustainability of the project and position it as a model within the sector.

“This is an emblematic work not only on a regional and national level, but also within Europe”, say the cooperative members, because until now geothermal resources have only been applied to smaller buildings in Spain. Geothermal resources as an energy source meet just 0.03% of Spain’s housing’s energy needs, as opposed to 30% in countries like Sweden.

With regard to energy efficiency, the residences have been awarded the A rating. They meet LEED international sustainability certification. Indeed the USGBC (US Green Building Council), which manages LEED certifications, has awarded the building a LEED Platinum rating.

The building won the prize for best energy-efficiency real estate initiative in the country in 2016, from ASPRIMA (Asociación de Promotores Inmobiliarios de Madrid – Association of Real Estate Developers of Madrid). It was also recognised as the best geothermal installation in the construction of a private building in the municipality of Madrid, an award of the Regional Ministry for Industry and Economy.

What impact has your business had on the community?

The direct impact on a local level of the Arroyo Bodonal cooperative is the one it makes on the 80 families who live in this building. More than 80% of the buyers of the residential development are people from Tres Cantos who are under the age of 40 and who were having difficulties finding a home in their native town. The cooperative has given them an opportunity to enjoy a residence which also incorporates the very highest standards of sustainability.

The residences have an average surface area of 100 m2. The average monthly cost of energy per occupied home, for the supply of hot water, heating and air conditioning and maintaining a temperature of between 20 and 24ºC throughout the year, is around 40 euros.

The economic saving given the level of comfort these homes amounts to 130,000 euros a year for the building as a whole, or about 155 euros a month for an average home.

How does Triodos Bank share your vision?

Triodos Bank believes it is necessary to boost sustainable construction in sectors like banking. The sectors it is interested in include the environment, an area which encompasses different public or private initiatives. The bank finances housing developments that stand out for their sustainability or social approach. It also offers residents the chance to take out a Triodos Mortgage (Hipoteca Triodos), as in the case of Arroyo Bodonal in which, given the A+ energy rating of the homes, the buyers benefitted from a lower interest rate on their mortgage.