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Advice Be ethical, live better Be ethical, live better

You’ve got the energy, you’ve got the power

Youve got the energy; youve got the power. The European Sustainable Energy Week was celebrated under this slogan last June.  A global initiative whose objective is to organise acts and activities about energy efficiency, renewable energies and the new role of the public with regard to energy.

Slowing climate change and protecting the environment are two of the biggest challenges facing humanity right now and we must be aware that we can all do our bit to care for the planet.  With this in mind, for several years Europe has been taking coordinated steps towards a more sustainable society.  All the countries in the Union are applying new energy improvement plans and policies, like in Spain where the government has introduced a programme of grants to encourage small, medium and large businesses in the industrial sector to reduce their energy consumption. This way, companies who are considering implementing a technological upgrade of equipment and industrial processes, or equally installing sustainable energy management systems, will benefit from this plan.

In Catalonia, according to the ministry’s data, the administration has designated a total of almost 50 million euros for this programme, and together with those of the state these grants increase to 307 million from the national energy efficiency fund.

At Withfor it was always clear to us that we should work with energy efficiency criteria from the outset. Through Hola Luz, our provider, we have made a clear commitment to improving energy efficiency in our facilities, using 100% renewable energy. At the same time, we work to promote sustainable transport between employees and clients. Among other sustainable measures, we also encourage the use of recyclable and biodegradable materials in our day-to-day business. We are convinced that with this attitude we contribute a little grain of sand to the fight against climate change and towards the improvement of the environment.

Responsible energy use is beneficial for the planet and ultimately for the business and for its employees. A simple but clear example: if we use an energy efficient light bulb, we use between 50% and 80% less energy than with a traditional bulb. They are small gestures, but very important ones.

 

Greener buildings, a future commitment

The large European municipalities are fighting together to reduce their emissions. Until recently, the action was mainly centred around reducing traffic, encouraging public transport and sustainable transport. Now, Europe is fixed on a new objective which puts the spotlight on the energy efficiency of both public and private buildings.

With this in mind, and alongside the plans aimed at businesses, all the large cities in the European Union are also working on a long-term strategy to achieve energy rehabilitation within the building sector. In fact, as an objective for 2030, Europe has established the improvement by at least 32.5% of energy efficiency [1], with respect to the emissions levels data collected in 2007.

According to a study carried out by Greenward Partners, currently in Spain four out of every five buildings are inefficient from the energy rating perspective, and more than half the housing was built before 1980[2]. To rectify the situation, the government is applying the Integrated National Plan for Energy and Climate (PNEIC), with the aim of transforming the national building stock into highly energy efficient and decarbonised real estate by 2050. How does it want to achieve this? By facilitating, through economic subsidies and administrative assistance, the renovation of the existing buildings into buildings with almost zero consumption.

This paradigm shift clearly indicates that, now and even more so in years to come, energy efficiency will be one of the most attractive sectors. According to the Association of Infrastructure Contractor and Concessionaires (SEOPAN), Spain calculates that the investments needed to achieve the objectives will exceed 40 billion euros over the next ten years. It is clear: with policies aimed at concrete objectives and investment in new professional skills, clean energy can offer new economic opportunities; as well as being the most direct route towards a greener and more sustainable planet.

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Be ethical, live better Real Estate News

Smart building: Time for sustainable construction

As in many other sectors, the world of construction is undergoing a process of great change. Environmental awareness and the policies being applied by the European Union with the aim of reducing pollution and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN compel all those involved in the construction process to adapt to these new times. Manufacturers, architects, interior designers, technological centres, clusters, and government agencies work together to promote a new kind of much more efficient and environmentally friendly construction.

Just this week Madrid is hosting the leading trade fare dedicated to the concept of Smart building: the exhibition Rebuild, which in its second year will host over 8,000 professionals and 3,500 participants. It will be a unique opportunity to delve into one of the revolutions that will shape the coming years, discover the recent advances in construction and reflect upon its future.

What is Smart Building?

Sustainable construction is a concept that is clearly booming for energy efficiency reasons, but it is also a positive means of generating wealth and social well-being. This type of building involves not only the selection of appropriate materials and construction processes, but also the urban environment and its development. It is based on the proper management and re-use of natural resources as well as energy conversation.

Sustainable construction develops buildings with the aim of increasing their useful life and focuses considerable effort on improving their energy efficiency. This is achieved by various means, which we differentiate as passive measures and active measures.

Among the passive measures, we find ways of using natural resources to minimise energy demands. In this field we could use, for example, inverted roofing with high density insulation (a type of roof that is usually flat, and where the thermal insulation protects the waterproof layer); cross-ventilation to naturally regulate the inside temperature, or a logical layout which positions the living rooms with an orientation guaranteeing sunlight during winter.

On the other hand, we have the active measures, which are those that are focused on reducing the energy consumption of the building by utilising efficient systems, such as renewable energy or the effective use of available resources. For example, it is possible to use aerothermal heat pumps that generate low CO2 emissions; electrical lighting systems using LEDs; communal lighting controlled by timers or motion sensors, or the installation of solar panels.

In Withfor, we have a new development (ref. BCN748_1) with Energy Certification A (the greenest). Take a look at it here.

Sustainable construction increases the value of properties

As David Martínez, director of the Rebuild 2019 exhibition, puts it: “We want to turn construction into the driving force of the economy and create a more competitive sector thanks to its industrialisation and digitalisation” and with this in mind he adds: “It is a collective effort that requires political support and incentives”. In this vein, the European Union (in order to comply with the Kyoto Protocol and the law 2012/27/UE) has set the target that by 31 December 2020, countries have practically zero energy consumption in their buildings, this is why the member states have implemented diverse laws to encourage Smart building.

According to the Inmodiario website, in Spain green building will enhance real estate values by up to 20%. Experts on the matter, calculate that an initial investment of 2% in the design of a sustainable building, will end up generating a 20% saving on the total construction costs throughout the building’s life cycle. Likewise, the operating costs are reduced by 9%, this increases the value of the property and therefore improves the return on investment.

Considering a building’s operation, sustainable buildings consume 26% less energy, they spend 13% less on maintenance costs, produce 33% less emissions of greenhouse gasses and occupants report a 27% higher level of satisfaction.

So, we are sure that sustainable construction is a trend that is here to stay. That is why, in keeping with the values that define us an ethical estate agency, Withfor prioritises and gives more visibility to housing developed according to sustainable criteria. One such building, for example, is the Melcior de Palau which was built under Smart building criteria, including the air exchange system with energy recuperation and water coils for air conditioning, among others.

We invite proprietors who opt for sustainable construction to join this effort. At Withfor you will always find a partner for the management of your properties, because we are convinced that the future of the sector will undergo a paradigm shift with regard to energy that will result in greener cities, with greater economic reward within the sector and which generate social well-being.

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Advice

Healthy teenagers, healthy communities

Today we’ve been talking to Marta Pitarch, director and founder of Let’s Wo+Men, a non-profit association whose programmes help to prevent emotional disorders and risk-taking behaviour in young people and adults. At Withfor we are proud to collaborate with a project whose objective is to achieve healthy and socially intelligent communities through social transformation.

  • What does Let’s Wo+men do?

We offer resources to meet these new social challenges and to help prevent emotional disorders and risk-taking behaviour.

In our programmes we work on the positive development of girls and women and the prevention of their specific risk factors such as low self-esteem, low self-confidence, image disorders and hypersexualisation, among others.

On the other hand, we also work on the positive development of boys and men and the prevention of their different risk factors such as inhibition to vulnerability, low frustration tolerance, fear of failure and aggression, among others.

  • How did the idea of creating Let’s Wo+men arise?

I wanted to ease the journey for my children, providing them with the knowledge and tools that I didn’t have at their age and that led me on a very long journey before I found the answers.

We are born with instinct, connected to nature and the essence of ourselves. But the process of socialisation diverts us from this natural essence. It disconnects us from our emotions and forces us to show that we are winners, according to questionable criteria of success that are differentiated by gender. In education we continue to focus on achieving results, and the frustrating search of perfection and success. Neither the goal, nor the tools are appropriate.

  • Who attends the programmes and what problems do they solve?

Our programmes are aimed at children, teenangers, and adults. And we get to them through schools, PTAs, sports clubs, public institutions, businesses and directly with the workshops we run in Withfor’s welcoming premises.

As a father or mother, if I have a child and I’m worried that he or she lives only in the moment, finds it hard to wait, is beginning to give compulsive or disruptive answers and can’t stand boredom, how can I help them? On the other hand, if I have a daughter and I’m concerned that she lives in a culture where the cult of the body is paramount, where with each day we have more girls addicted to social networks where they are continuously waiting for a like in exchange for emotional security, how can I help her?

In a hyper-stimulated society, hyper-stressed by the ever-increasing pressure to succeed, children grow up vulnerable to emotional problems, lacking affection and with low frustration tolerance.

We need fathers and mothers to be their guides, so that girls and women of the future can achieve an equality without having to pay the price of losing or devaluing their femininity along the way.

  • What is the difference between Let’s Wo+men and other programmes? 

First of all, the research, as it is the key to everything we do. We are a research and information dissemination hub, investigating and measuring risk factors in the different behaviours of men and women. The Jaume I University provides the scientific validity for our tests.

Secondly, all our content is developed by psychologists and sexologists with clinical experience. This ensures that our programmes include genuine prevention of the problems observed by the team of psychologists in their practices.

Another important point is that we develop educational programmes with our own methodology and analyse their impact on participants.

And the fourth is that we consider individuals using a holistic approach.Taking into account their emotional, sensitive, physical, and relationship profiles we empower their innate masculine or feminine qualities in order to accomplish personal, academic and professional achievements.

  • What is it that has surprised you most about the adolescents or parents that have participated?

Over 10,000 adolescents and 2000 adults have participated in our programmes, and I think that each of them has been affected in a different way. In general, it is as if they have had a blindfold removed and can see now clearly. Their critical sense grows stronger, and they begin to stop fighting to be something that they do not feel comfortable with. They start to get to know themselves, accept themselves and understand the rules that society has placed upon them and decide how to face them.  It is very satisfying when they say “why has no one explained this to us before”, “this education should be compulsory”, “I feel much better now”.

  • How can you collaborate with Let’s Wo+men? 

On the letswomen.com website there is a section called “Implícate” and from there it is possible to send us a message with proposals for volunteering, mentoring or financial support… We always welcome collaborators like Withfor.

And for those mothers and fathers who have children between 10 and 18 years of age, or for those who feel that they are running on autopilot and want to live with more balance, the best would be to attend one of our programmes.  Because by attending, the individual acquires the necessary tools in order to grow and to advance…. And when the transformation takes place, it is contagious, it makes other people want to feel better.  One by one we can begin changing our surroundings. In the end, a better world is made with healthy, well-balanced people.

Dates of upcoming workshops at Withfor: