Exemplary Educational Resource
The Center was designed following the philosophy of Amigos da Terra and with a significant differential nuance between the rest of the equipments used in Galician environmental education. This is because the equipment itself was built as an exemplary educational resource, incorporating those principles on which we based our educational project in its construction. Those in turn are consistent with the principles of an ecological association with a background component of social commitment.
As Corcerizas is today presented as a pioneer environmental education center and shelter, comparable only to a few other models in the nation because it continues conceiving the perspective of sustainability starting from the planning, construction, management and use:
Energy-efficient buildings: Green Building
The facilities consist of a Classroom, a Dining room and a Hostel with the capacity of 45 persons.
In its design, construction and improvements, techniques and criteria of green building were applied. This incorporates the use of efficient production systems and energy savers as well as materials which are healthy and environment-friendly in all stages of their life cycle (production, use, disposal), manufactured nearby and respected by their traditional use.
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Main aspects we apply in As Corcerizas:
- Prospection of the terrain’s geobiology, analyzing possible watercourses, faults, radioactivity, etc., ensuring the ideal place for every building considering its use.
- Construction site selection considering bioclimatic factors, integrating the buildings in the outlines and minimizing the impact on the landscape.
- Orientation settled to make the most of passive solar energy and consistent distribution of interior spaces according to their use.
- Use of local, healthy and biocompatible production materials: natural oils to protect the wood and ecological paint; natural insulation and oak cork; use of mortar made of white cement, lime and clay.
- Timber from sustainable boards.
- Use of green roofs on the dining room and classroom: vegetable shells as thermal regulator.
Renewable Energy: decentralized system and remote monitoring
The energy system of As Corcerizas is completely independent of the conventional power grid, forming what is known as “energy island”. The whole electricity production is provided by renewable energy, demonstrating the feasibility and benefits of diversifying local production sources.
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- Solar: photovoltaic modules that provide 6 Kw of electricity.
- Hydraulic: microturbine combined with a preexisting small reservoir, which produces an average of 6 kW of electrical power.
- Wind: wind turbine that provides a peak power of 5 kW.
The fact that there is no connection to the conventional electricity grid makes it necessary to have its own system of accumulation (stationary batteries), allowing storage in periods of increased production and making energy available in times with less input.
The system has a monitoring program through a remote system that allows us to:
- Achieve the system’s optimal performance.
- Deepen the knowledge, especially in small wind technology, as well as provide direct data on the wind and solar resources.
- Easily visualize the production of renewable sources and continue to demonstrate its viability.
- Solar thermal energy: for hot water and heating system support.
- Wind energy: at peak production periods, when the batteries cannot store more, the electric boiler is activated.
- Biomass: boilers that supply the hostel, dining room and classroom with hot water for domestic use and for heating.
These sources supply the heating system installations: radiant walls made of raw clay, a healthy, efficient and sustainable material. By heating structures with high thermal inertia we optimized the system which also allows capturing a body temperature higher than the underfloor heating, works in low temperature (35-40 ° C) and is considered very healthy for its breathability.
We aim to minimize waste production as much as possible throughout the life cycle of products through bulk purchases and minimal packaging, prioritizing the reusable materials and rejecting some products considering their ecological footprint.
We apply the recycling principle by composting organic waste; and by the biological purification of waste waters using a system of floating aquatic plants.
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The organic matter produced in the kitchen is separated at source and with it we directly make compost.
Compost is a organic fertilizer obtained from the controlled decomposition of organic matter by microorganisms (bacteria, fungi) and small animals such as worms and beetles.
The organic fraction of waste is often one of the most polluting element of the municipal waste stream and its diversion from landfills and incinerators can contribute a significant part to achieving local recycling targets.
- Water purification filter with aquatic plants
This plants are naturally rooted in the ground, but are here artificially transformed into a floating system.
When floating, plants form a tapestry of roots that occupies the entire raft, forcing all the water to flow through the sponge roots.
Injecting oxygen through their leaves, the roots create an oxygenated environment around themselves that favors the union of microbial bacteria. These actually absorb and are nourished by the pollutant loads and the organic matter, returning clean water to the environment.
In As Corcerizas we prepare meals, as far as possible, with food from ecological and local agriculture, demonstrating the viability of its consumption and supporting the development of small farms in the area. For products that are not cultivated locally, we turn to fair trade channels, as in the case of coffee, cocoa or sugar.
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The menus are prepared with low contents in meat and fish, considering the eco-social impact resulting from their current overconsumption. Different options such as vegetarian and vegan diet as well as menus adapted to gluten or dairy intolerance are contemplated.
The educational character involved in the food served in the dining room and the menus prepared by the staff itself encourage the reflection on the ecological footprint of our daily diet.
The food comes from further away every time, such as the “Padrón peppers” of Morocco or the kiwifruit from New Zealand. In Galicia the croplands are abandoned, while elsewhere in the south jungles and villages are razed to produce cheap food that travels thousands of miles to reach our tables.
Sustainable food, besides being healthy, must respect the environment in which we all cohabit. We think that living the experience is the best tool to sensitize and raise awareness about the need to change our eating habits for the sake of our health, environment and prosperity of rural Galicia.