Cartuja Qanat and LIFE Watercool
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Cartuja Qanat and LIFE Watercool, adapting to climate change

Climate, Natural Resources and Environment

Climate change has serious consequences for the population in terms of health, economic development, employment and urban planning, among many others. Through two closely linked projects, Cartuja Qanat and LIFE Watercool, Seville (Spain) is developing an effective strategy to adapt to climate change by enhancing the value of the arteries that make up its streets and neighbourhoods.

Both projects are the result of collaboration between Zabala Innovation and Empresa Metropolitana de Abastecimiento y Saneamiento de Aguas de Sevilla (Emasesa). By managing the integral water cycle in the city of Seville and 11 other municipalities in its metropolitan area, and providing service to more than one million inhabitants, Emasesa is one of the country’s leading operators in this sector.

The Cartuja Qanat project at the UIA

Funded through the Urban Innovative Actions programme (UIA, an EU initiative that provides urban areas across Europe with resources to test innovative solutions to their challenges), Cartuja Qanat promotes social exchange and sustainable models of urban growth with a focus on environmental comfort.

The intervention area is Thomas Alva Edison Avenue, in the Cartuja Technology Park, where ancestral climate control technologies are being recovered and modernised, and the climate improvement strategies of Expo’92 are being rescued. Innovative components and strategies such as variable solar control, nocturnal dissipation towards the sky, dissipation towards the ground with nocturnal evaporative regeneration, thermal storage in qanats (underground galleries) and solar electricity production are used throughout this area. The result is a pioneering zero-energy and zero-emission installation on an annual basis.

It also incorporates remote sensing technology and artificial intelligence for optimal management of the facilities using presence control, user preferences and climate prediction, among other elements.

In this way, the project objectives are met, i.e.:

  • a 10°C reduction of the temperature in open spaces.
  • the creation of an urban meeting point that is a demonstrator, activator and driver of transformation, based on the legacy of Roman, Arab and Jewish cultures.
  • the development of a public-private partnership approach for the adaptation of the city to climate change, with the integration of bioclimatic solutions.
  • the use of functional ceramic products capable of retaining a large amount of water inside due to their porous structure, whose fundamental mission is to act as energy exchangers to condition the environment.
  • the generation of new multifunctional concrete products.
  • the strategic positioning of ceramic companies as innovative entities.

Once the most suitable programme for submitting the project application had been identified, Zabala Innovation and Emasesa, with the support of the rest of the project consortium, worked on drafting the proposal, first in UIA and then in LIFE, the EU instrument exclusively dedicated to climate action and the environment.

The LIFE Watercool project

LIFE Watercool was conceived as a replication and transfer project, the expected results of which include, among others:

  • a demonstration project of the implementation of a new way of understanding the street in a climate change adaptation perspective, using water infrastructure.
  • three demonstration projects of a microclimate room (bus stop, school, public square), with a reduction of the surface temperature in rooms by 5-10°C, passive generation of cold air at 28°C, and energy savings of between 50% and 70% of 1.8 kW/m2/year of cooling and heating.
  • a catalogue of green solutions including bioclimatic technologies for sustainable urban development, with the objective of generating a microclimate in the streets that makes traffic viable and people stay in the streets.
  • a white paper on bioclimatic technologies and solutions for sustainable urbanism, focusing on the healthy street concept, for rapid replication and transfer.

In this way, a section of the Avenida de la Cruz Roja in Seville was opened to pedestrian traffic in September 2022, once the renovation works of the supply and sanitation networks and paving had been completed, turning this area of the Andalusian capital into an urban laboratory against climate change.

Previously, after the negotiation of the contracts with the European Commission and the start-up of Cartuja Qanats and Life Watercool, Zabala Innovation was selected in a public tender as the consultant in charge of the economic and administrative management of the projects, jointly, until their completion in 2023-2024.

Not only Cartuja Qanat and LIFE Watercool

Zabala Innovation’s relationship with Emasesa dates back to 2017, when it began to provide comprehensive advice on the detection, preparation and management of proposals at both European and national level.

Since then, Zabala Innovation has collaborated and advised this company on more than 50 projects (funded, among others, by the H2020, UIA, LIFE and GWOPA programmes), eight of which are international in scope. In the last two years, this collaboration has also been extended to the field of Emasesa’s strategy and the presentation of projects in PRTR calls for proposals.

In line with the environmental axes of its strategic plan related to its contribution to greater resilience in new climate scenarios and thanks to this close collaboration, Emasesa has positioned itself as a benchmark in the adaptation of urban areas and in the management of the water cycle as the backbone of the city.

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