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LUCIA: Pioneer Energy Autonomous public building in Spain

A Subliniat Caz March 2016
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The LUCIA building of the University of Valladolid is considered a Zero CO2 emissions and Zero Energy Building due to its strategies in passive and bioclimatic design to reduce energy demand in maintenance as well as only using on-site renewable energies (biomass, photovoltaic and geothermal). This building demonstrates that is indeed possible to achieve energy autonomy with 100% renewable energy and zero carbon emissions.


LUCIA showcases building sustainability with the management and production of autonomous local renewable energies and is recognized as the maximum achievement in Europe at the LEED Platinum Level with 98 points. The building is comprised of laboratories and modules for different research areas with the corresponding equipment. Since the user occupation in 2014, LUCIA has being monitored in order to test hypotheses that will provide the basis for environmental methods and assessment for future construction towards Nearly or Net Zero-Energy Buildings and Zero-Energy Urban Building and Zero-Energy Communities.



Strategies adopted in the passive and bioclimatic design


Building compactness

One of the basic strategies is the compactness of the building. The building has a 0,37 m-1 form factor relevant to the 5.920 m2 of usable floor area, thus giving it a ratio result which is hard to improve. Compactness means the relation between floor area and envelope volume that can be optimized (reduced) according to a specific climate areas.


Form façade design

The characteristics of the site require long walls facing to the southwest and northeast. This meant that a careful study of building orientation was performed when designing the spaces. The result includes overhangs on the walls facing the sun. Using this indented surface system, 89% of the openings on the south and east facing walls achieve thermal gains in winter and a self-shadowing effect in the summer. This, thereby reduces the cooling load while at the same time ensuring natural light. There is one drawback however, an increased surface area in the envelope. This disadvantage is offset by the design, which leads to a 24% reduction in the building’s cooling loads according to the testing simulations that have been carried out.


High insulation

The thermal transfer coefficients used in the building envelope compared to those defined by Spanish Building Regulations (CTE) and ASHRAE (ASHRAE 2007) are very important. The insulation coefficients used a low u-value; 0,17 W/m2K on façades and 0,15 W/m2K on the green roof. These will restrict loss through transfer and therefore lead to a reduction in demand. One impairment is the increased energy in the materials but this can be reduced or even removed through the use of natural insulation which is 100% natural from wood and does have an additional cost but is offset by the reduction in energy consumption. One further aspect to be taken into account is the effect of thermal inertia achieved in the structure of the building itself (reinforced concrete), particularly with the green roof, which covers 73,5% of its surface.


Natural Lighting using solar tubes

The decision to construct a compact building has been merged with an increase in natural lighting of indoor areas by using tubular daylighting devices (solar-tubes, 27 in total) and skylights above the staircases. In addition to offering beneficial effects for health and well-being, natural light reduces the electricity requirement for artificial light. The system has a number of excellent advantages such as static elements which simply reflect the incident sunlight and therefore, additional electricity is not needed.


Special control devices

-Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI), a communication interface system for regulating lighting according to the natural daylight available.

-Enthalpy recovery ventilators instead of conventional energy recovery ventilators which leverage more than 60% of the energy delivered by the ventilation system.

-Energy saving elevators.


On-site geothermal pipes

Earthwarming tubes are used for both heating and cooling. The tubes are located next to the building on an additional lot containing vegetation which creates specific environmental conditions needed for the geothermal system. The energy production of this system depends on seasonal and daily outdoor conditions and is calculated to produce 25.000 kWh/year of thermal energy.


Heat island effect

Reducing the heat island effect on site and thus creating a microclimate is achieved through:

-use of permeable surfaces with filtered pavement located outside the building in a specific plot area as part of the geothermal system.

-the parking lot leaves an open space next to the building which allows for more natural ventilation as well as natural light in the building and drastically reduces the need for artificial lighting. Less fire protection and additional anti-CO2 equipment is also compensated for with more space next to the building.

-green roof: intensive vegetation canopy covering 73,5% of the roof.

-local vegetation and deciduous trees on site as well as other features which help to create microclimates.


Waste management

The waste management was also taken into consideration during the construction phase as well as throughout the lifetime of the building. The project includes a plan for studying all the waste generated during the building’s life-cycle. The creation of compost from vegetable waste has also been envisaged. Finally, the waste generated during future demolition of the building has also been studied with a view to secure the maximum possible recovery of the materials used:

-methods to reduce the waste generated during the building process (prefabricated, dry wall partitions) as much as possible.

-easy disassembly of construction materials

-use of low-environmental impact construction materials: low embodied energy, no-VOC, recycled and reused materials and photocatalytic materials based on applications of TiO2.


Reutilization of water

-Rain water system (75% of the roof will be a green roof)

-100% of the grey water subjected to a recycling process with networks to separate those from the laboratory water to be processed before discharge, bathroom facilities equipped with electronic taps that incorporate flow reduction, the use of autochthonous vegetation that does not require irrigation.


Training programs

-To perform initiatives about general knowledge in bioclimatic and energy aspects through awareness campaigns and educational and training programs for staff, users and other people from the building sector.

-Educational plan about maintenance for technicians.





University Campus Miguel Delibes 47011 Valladolid (Spain)



Project team


Project management: Unidad Técnica of Architecture (University of Valladolid)

Architecture design: Francisco Valbuena García and the team of the Unidad Técnica of Architecture (University of Valladolid)

Energy design: VEGA Ingeniería

Main contractor: Constructora San José SA / CYM Yañez SA

Other consultants: Torre de Comares Arquitectos SL / Pich-Aguilera Arquitectos

Other collaborators and providers: Instituto de la Construcción de Catilla y León ICCL  / CIDAUT - Fundación para la Investigación y Desarrollo en Transporte y Energía / Kema Energy / Siemens



Time schedule


Design: 2010-2011

Construction: 2012-2013 (15 months)

Delivery and inauguration: Feb 2014



Building use


Type of building: 3-storey building for research purpose

7.500m2 Total Constructed Area

5.920 m2 Total Conditioned Area

5.356 m2 Total Usable Floor Area


LUCIA is an applied research center used for laboratories and spin-offs related to different research areas like Nutrition, Food and Dietetics (2.100 m2), Metabolopathies (2.100 m2) and Digital Knowledge Society (950 m2)



Construction costs


Global project investment (building construction and research equipment): 10,2 M €. This amount is 100% funded by the Junta de Castilla y León and the European Regional Development Fund 2010-2012


Initial bidding budget for building construction: 8,56 M €


Global construction cost (includes fees and VAT and excludes microclimate elements to reduce heat island effect): 7.253.461 €


Global cost per m2: 1.354 €/m2


Global cost per student: 40.980 €


Renewable energy systems cost details (already included in global construction cost):


Renewable system


Double-skin PV façade


Solar tubes


Geothermal pipes


Biomass CHP*



(*) Cost extracted from the preliminary budget






Envelope performance


Exterior wall: U-value = 0,17 W/m2.K

5 cm reinforced concrete panel / 6 cm EPS / 5 cm reinforced concrete panel / 14 cm insulation lmv / 5 cm air chamber / 1,5 cm plaster panel


Roof: U-value = 0,15 W/m2.K

30 cm reinforced concrete / 6 cm light reinforced concrete / impermeable layer / felt / 20 cm XPS / felt / 2 cm drainage layer / felt / 0,10-0,69 cm vegetable soil


Basement floor / Floor: U-value = 0,16 W/m2.K

Details n/a


Windows: U-value = 1,1 W/m2.K, g-value = 0,62

Details n/a



Energy consumption


Primary Energy Consumption (heating, cooling, DHW, electricity needs)*:  285,00 kWh PE/m2.year

Primary Energy Consumption for standard building*:  339,00 kWh PE/m2.year


Final Energy Consumption (heating, cooling, DHW, electricity needs)*:  81,82 kWh FE/m2.year

Final Energy Consumption for standard building (heating, cooling, DHW, electricity needs)*:  187,05 kWh FE/m2.year


Annual Heating Demand*: 6,02 kWh/m2.year

Annual Cooling Demand*: 31,97 kWh/m2.year


(*) Interpretation of the results simulated in eQUEST tool



Expected energy bill cost/year: 11.840 € (due to the periodic purchase of local biomass waste, mainly woodchips and a smartgrid maintenance cost of 2€/m2 of conditioned area)



Energy systems: 100% renewable


The energy concept is a mix of geothermal and photovoltaic systems to save the maximum amount of consumption. After that, the amount of energy required is covered with a Biomass Combined Heat and Power system.



Renewable system

Saved energy (or produced, in the biomass CHP system)

Saved cost

Double-skin PV façade (electricity generation)

5.000 kWh electricity


Solar tubes (natural light)

5.500 kWh electricity


Geothermal pipes (tri-generation system: ventilation, heating and cooling)

25.000 kWh thermal

2.700 kWh electricity


Biomass CHP (tri-generation system: heating, cooling and electricity)

249.108 kWh thermal (equivalent performance 100%) and / or electricity (equivalent performance 70%)



Control and automation is made by:


-BMS for lighting management with winDIM2net system. It is a network that consists of a software controller of lighting devices, dimmers and sensors according to external light, by means of a bi-directional data exchange (See Simulation Report)


-Smartgrid maintenance for the Biomass CHP system.



Zero carbon emissions


Methodology used: eQUEST 3.64 system DOE-2

GHG in use: -5,00 KgCO2/m2.year

GHG before use: 7,92 KgCO2/m2.year

Building lifetime: 50,00 years

GHG reference (ASHRAE 90.1-2007 baseline building): 46 KgCO2/m2.year


Material impact on GHG emissions: 395,00 kgCo2

Material impact on energy consumption: 55 092,00 kWh PE

Eco-design material: Recycled materials 77,3% and reused materials 10%



Awards and recognition



-Winner of the Green Building Solutions Awards 2015 in the Net Zero Energy Buildings category:

-Winner of the EnerAgen Awards 2015 in the category A.2 - Technologies for energy improvement in the building sector

- Awarded for the best paper (presented) VEKA at congress EESAP5 in 2014.

- Winner of Sustainable Construction Awards in the category of Facilities in 2013.

-Third place at the Mediterranean Sustainable Architecture 2013 in the category of Culture.



-Highest scored LEED PLATINUM building in Europe and second in the world with 98 points:

-Rating 5 VERDE leaves from the GBCe:



Additional information


Video explanation in English (Green Building Solutions Awards 2015):


Building description in Spanish (document presented in CONAMA):


Simulation Report in Spanish (eQUEST results):


Design report of double-skin pv façade in Spanish:


Project leaflet in Spanish:


Official project website:

Lessons learnt

There is an open debate as to whether a building should be considered considered net zero or a nearly zero energy level if the electrical needs are high when the heating and cooling needs are very low. Equally important are the amount of different and innovative technologies. LUCIA implemented some very interesting 100% renewable energy technologies with low cost achievements through a suitable energy concept design of the building. Perhaps, after its monitoring results, this building will help to unveil some bases for environmental methods and assessment in future construction of Nearly or Net-Zero Energy Buildings and Zero-Energy Urban Building and Zero-Energy Communities. The Main Lessons learnt: 1) Importance of architectural objectives, such as form and volume depend on the bioclimatic design, especially in the initial design stage 2) Support and environtmental awareness for all stakeholders (promoters, architects, constructor, staff, end users, manufacture, etc.) 3) Regulations must facilitate innovation in architecture: Strategies and innovative methods are going faster than regulations 4) Cooling aspects are more important and difficult to solve than heating aspects in the climate region of LUCIA building.

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