Resource-saving work is the trend. But this is not only interesting from an ecological point of view, but also affects our labor productivity. Approaches to how sustainability can be transferred from environmental protection to our way of working.


Just get out of the excess company?

Whether one has to go as far as Greta Taubert describes in her book “Apocalypse Now” remains to be seen: Taubert tells how she got out for a year and thus prepared for a new form of society - away from the affluent society simple life forms and do-it-yourself, including food production from dumpsters and catching fish yourself.

Rather, one should take the return to natural resources and sustainable management as a model for other areas of life. Because the conscious handling of our environment can also be transferred to the way we deal with ourselves and our work: Energy-efficient, sustainable work means more resource-saving, more pleasant and - ultimately, working more productively and better.


Sustainable living as an alternative

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Because even if such experiments are always exciting, I think getting out is not a sustainable model. Rather, we should use our technological knowledge to make our existing society more ecological.

On one of my press trips to the Canary Island of Tenerife, I therefore visited the bioclimatic settlement ITER and spent a night there - and dealt with the question: What does energy-efficient, CO2-neutral life actually mean? And could the eco-houses be a model for that Future be?

The emergence of the eco-settlement ITER

In 1995, the Canarian Research Institute wrote for Technology and Renewable Energies (ITER) organized an architecture competition for CO2-neutral houses, in which over 400 architects from 38 countries took part. There were the following conditions for the houses: no larger than 120 square meters, a maximum of 3-4 bedrooms and no more than 1200 US dollars per square meter.

At the end, 25 of the so-called Casas Bioclimaticas were built in the south of the island at the foot of Montaña Pelada - cost point over 10 million euro. The stream comes from the wind turbines that surround the settlement, and from solar collectors. Electricity is also used to operate water pumps and seawater desalination plants, all of which are equipped for ecological water treatment.


How ecological are eco-houses?

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The houses not only use natural building materials such as stone and wood, but the houses also produce their own Energy with the lowest possible consumption at the same time. Each house has its own way of solving this task:

The competition winner “La Geria”, for example, stands in a pit surrounded by a semicircular wall that protects against wind and moisture. Architect César Ruiz-Larreaz copied this from winegrowing in Lanzarote. Air vents in the right place, matched to each other and matched to the wind, not only provide ventilation, but also act as a natural air conditioning system.

There is also one in the French house “El Rio”: Here a water channel flows directly through the house and cools the room temperature. And the Spanish architect from “Las Bóvedas” constructed a partially underground building with vaults made of volcanic stone that only opens to the south.


No house works regardless of location

What really fascinated me in this respect is that each house is exactly matched with the space on which it stands: Many a house would not function like 100 meters. This harmony with the place is the true secret of energy efficiency.

The energy consumption of the houses is monitored very precisely: The room temperature, the temperature of the walls, the humidity, the draft, the CO2 emissions and the presence of people are measured. In order to ensure this and to Costs to cover, the houses are rented to holiday guests, including design-technical peculiarities.


What we can learn through ecology for our work


Conclusion: no model for Germany?

The Canary Islands already cover more than 15 percent of their energy requirements from renewable energies - more than twice as much as the EU average. And the example shows quite clear: You can learn many things from environmental protection for better, more productive work and maybe implement and improve some of them in your own projects.

However, the rest of the energy supply on the Canary Islands is largely dependent on external sources. The eco-houses should now help to make energy-efficient Solutions found for warm regions. For me, that is exactly the big sticking point of the eco-house settlement: With permanent sun, wind and heat, the Canary Islands offer practical, ideal climatic conditions for CO2-neutral houses. This is simply transferrable to our cold region System Unfortunately not: In the cold north, more energy efficiency will probably have to be invested. However, ITER has no answer to this.

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