In the loop: community feedback part of the process at Europe’s largest deep renovation site
Significant improvements to energy efficiency often mean lengthy inconveniences to residents. In the Torrelago district of Valladolid, Spain, the CITyFiED project is embracing this and trying to engage with the community throughout the process
In the towering blocks of Torrelago, Laguna de Duero, CITyFiED representatives and residents held an early major meeting in November 2014 to define and agree on the development objectives and visualization of the district’s renovation. With a meticulously presented plan underway to achieve a better living environment, air quality and substantial improvements in energy efficiency, there have, of course, been some bumps in the road. A year and a half later, dialogue continues to be an essential part of reaching these objectives.
A March 2016 meeting with the owners committee was an opportunity to tackle the positive and negative experiences in the delivery of their “new homes” at the end of phase one. Starting with the evident and common difficulty: construction works can be noisy and create a mess across roads, pedestrian areas and gardens. Works can also be set off by small issues and imperfections, as engineered plans become a reality. One can safely say that Laguna de Duero has certainly experienced these. Even if minimized, residents notice the disturbances – as well as some small issues with the lattices and other minor additional costs related to the new boilers room and substations – and all were addressed at the recent meeting.
On the positive side, the comfort and appearance of the buildings have been especially well received. Most residents in the first wave of completed buildings are able to see their own consumption, visualise savings and live in a dry, condensation-free environment - an issue that was apparent before. In this first phase, the owners have also been beneficiaries of new windows with little to no up front financial commitment and special offer financing; waterproofing of the terraces and progressive introduction of LED lighting.
Helping to interact and explain the works has been a resident ambassador, working with architecture company 3IA, who is in contact with residents, answering questions and identifying areas of concern with the CITyFiED roll out.
Moving forward, the meeting highlighted upcoming issues and questions to be solved in the near future. These included the method of payment of the heating bill. A great idea was suggested to generate ‘test invoices’ during the next heating season, allowing the residents to know the cost of their thermal energy consumption despite the fact that all of them are going to pay the same regarding the current method of payment in the community of owners. Residents also expressed uncertainty regarding the terms of the shared use of the boilers room by the two communities of owners.
All in all, the process has been highly beneficial for both parties, addressing concerns head on and even improving final delivery with resident-led ideas. Apparently, CITyFIED is setting the standard in both non-technical and technical domains.