Irene Vivas Lalinde

The European Union has become a champion of clean energies and demonstrates it in strategies such as Europe 2020[1] aiming at reducing greenhouse gas emissions 20% lower than in 1990, having 20% of energy from renewables and increasing 20% in energy efficiency. Sounds good, right?

People like Juan, the interviewee, constitute a part of the society which moves from theory into action. Unfortunately, the political “climate” in Spain is not favorable to these changes and makes it even harder for aware citizens to avoid the normal channels that protect the interests of oligopolies.

Juan Manuel was waiting for me under the porch of his magnificent house. After half of his life in South America and the US, he is now retired and installed on the outskirts of Madrid.

This info graphic of the European Commission shows some of the examples used by Juan at his house.

My first curiosity is related to the origin of his environmental awareness. With certain melancholy for the happy years he spent in Venezuela (enough to become a national citizen), Juan remembers his role as a Civil Engineer: building some of the most important bridges, ports and other “monsters” along a continent. At that time, many factories used to rise up the chimneys to get rid of their pollution; it was the way it worked, I pollute but “others” get the worse part, a well-known philosophy that remains in our unconsciousness. This behavior made him concern about human beings and how they do not care about their impact on the environment.

Once his wife Simona and he came back to Europe, they decided to invest their savings in a beautiful and sustainable – economically, as well- house to live with their two daughters. Back then, around 1991, this was possible because of sensitive architects. First of all, the couple bought a solar with a proper North – South orientation: closing the north and opening the south wall through several terraces. Then, they isolated the walls, prepared the outer sheath for solar panels and installed a radiant floor in order to be energy efficient and avoid the involuntary loss of heat or cold. In the garden, perennial trees facing north to protect from the sun and deciduous ones to let the sun enter in winter. It was all about taking advantage of the design, using quality materials and joinery, as well as considering the conditions in which the house was going to be built.

Later on, Juan decided to change the energetic system from a diesel- powered boiler to an aerothermical system [2] (reducing 3 or 4 times the electricity bill) and his plan, as he calls it, “Phase 4: 2020” is to install panels and start self-consuming the energy he produces.

However, the current Spanish legislation [3] does not allow it, without taking into consideration several European Directives [4] related to this matter.

Currently, his daughter Samantha has started to plant some vegetables at the back of the garden. She researched, firstly as a cooking lover who was attired by the idea of having tasty and natural food every day on the table. She plans to use the butts of her boyfriend and aromatics plants as pesticide.

Juan Manuel and Sami, as their friends call her, two people trying to live the European dream and showing that this fight between the EU strategy and our State apparatus must come to an end.

29, 3 % of the CO2 [5] emissions in the European Union come from the energy supply and this won’t change if we help the energy sector to keep its benefits rather a citizen, village or enterprise to be auto sufficient.

If you want to know all the technical details of this house, you can find them here.



[2] The Aerothermia is one of the most unknown renewable energies in the world.

[3]RD 900/2015:it uses administrative obstacles to make self- consumption expensive and difficult.

[4]Among others,  2010/31/UE


Irene Vivas Lalinde


The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of the author, and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of ALDA and the European Union.