AlmaVerde wins Gold for Best Sustainable Development 2006

AlmaVerde wins Gold for Best Sustainable Development 2006

Home Overseas Awards 2006 GoldAlmaVerde Village & Spa in the Western Algarve has won the Gold Award for Best Sustainable Development in the Homes Overseas Awards 2006, held on 4th May at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

This year's awards showcased the finest properties across the eight most popular destinations for Britons buying abroad: Cyprus, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and its islands, South Africa, Central and Eastern Europe and the USA (Florida). The independent judges, drawn from RICS and RIBA, together with respected property journalists and other specialists, travelled the world to visit the short-listed entries.

The judges reported that “AlmaVerde Village & Spa repesents a wonderful example of an environmentally aware and sustainable development, and, vitally, is well on the way to being an extremely attractive and competitively priced addition to the Algarve’s burgeoning property portfolio.”

Jes Mainwaring, AADip, RIBA, AlmaVerde’s principal architect, commented: “Housing alone is responsible for 30% of European energy use, with the greatest part being consumed by heating and cooling systems. By applying simple, well-established principles, AlmaVerde shows that designers of new projects can achieve major improvements, not only in energy efficiency, but also in thermal comfort, at modest incremental cost.”

Situated on the Atlantic seaboard, where external temperatures often vary by 20 deg C or more from day to night, AlmaVerde has developed a unique construction specification, employing high levels of insulation and thermal mass, to completely stabilise internal temperatures.

AlmaVerde uses solid adobe inner walls, to act as a store of radiant heat or cold. Sun-dried clay bricks are made on-site to reduce transport costs, and made into walls using granulated clay mortar and render. This traditional sustainable building material also has the added ability to maintain the internal relative humidity at comfortable levels.

The building is then completely enveloped with external insulation to further reduce heat gains or losses. The outermost layer of this system is hard, yet flexible, does not crack, and does not require regular repainting. It also eliminates cold bridging across the ferro-concrete frame. The insulation envelope continues into the roof by means of timber sandwich panels laid over laminated timber beams. External doors and windows also use timber frames and are double-glazed with low-emissivity solar-control glass. All timber is from sustainable sources.

As the founding member of the EU-funded Coolhouse project, AlmaVerde has also developed a low-energy comfort cooling system that brings air into the building via underground tubes, so that in summer the air loses heat to the cooler subsoil. Monitoring has shown that, while the external day-to-night temperature might drop from 38 to 18 deg C, the internal temperature remains constant within a range of 26 to 28 deg C, depending upon the extent to which the building is being used. The Coolhouse air-handling unit draws a mere 60 watts on average, to deliver 2,500 watts of cooling.

The company is building out its range of exceptional luxury villas, with 65% already sold. New phases of apartments and townhouses will be released over the next 18 months, as the building program for the main Spa, Wellness Centre and other amenities gets underway.

Homes Overseas magazine is published by Blendon Communications, Britain’s leading publisher of residential property magazines. Now in their third year, the awards, sponsored by British Airways, The Daily Telegraph and Moneycorp, have become an industry benchmark for excellence in new oversas property.

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