Building our eco friendly house in Spain

We live in southern Spain and we are trying to find out if we can afford building our eco friendly house in a spot we want to live. Our new home.

Our “never ending” quest to find the right house solution. It is taking us from perhaps building it ourselves from second hand sea containers, via wooden frame to prefab concrete and back again. Via our blog we will keep you up-to-date with all the items we find on our way of building our home.

We are trying to build an ecological house with all the thinking and requirements behind the important certificates. Labels like, Passive House, Net (or Nearly) Zero Energy Building (nZEB), Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and many more. However, we will probably not be applying for the official certificates of these labels. We don’t believe we need these labels or certificates. Our aim is just to have a healthy house and be as self sufficient as possible.

Our journey to find not only affordable solutions but also the right professionals. People, we can trust completely to guide us through the labyrinth of buying land and building our eco friendly house. More on this … [click]

Eco Friendly

Perhaps the importance of us trying to build a better world is nothing compared to all the large buildings and companies that are not eco friendly. But …. we can only do the things we are in control of. So our aim is to build our house in an eco-friendly way.

Reduce, reuse & recycle

Starting with, only building what we really require. We are a family of three so we don’t need a house with 250 m² of space. Space that we all tend to fill with stuff. So we’re reducing the space we will build to a minimum of 100 m²

I do like the idea of re-using materials to create a new life for a new product. As difficult or as easy as re-using for example shipping containers to create a new house or just re-using the wooden pallets which building materials arrive on to create furniture.

Solar energy

building our eco friendly home in Spain

The other eco friendly items we will definitely pursue are; using the sun to provide us with as much electricity as we need. And living in southern Spain … well there aren’t a lot of days the sun doesn’t shine.

Heat pump

Adding a heat pump that uses the temperature of the air and converts it to heat and cool our house as well as heating our water.

Grey water system

Reusing our “grey water” is another item we would love to install in order to use less clean water in our eco friendly home.

Fruit & Vegetables

When I arrived in Spain about 8 years ago, I remember going to my neighbours garden and picking the figs of the trees. I lived in a small town where most people had a vegetable patch. After that I moved to another small town and had the pleasure of having a lemon tree. All year round I had lemons. From fresh lemonade to my own limoncello and my “famous” lemon cake. Just being able to eat your own produce would be wonderful to have. Fruit trees & a small vegetable patch. And yes not only building our eco friendly house but also an eco friendly garden.

Labels & certificates

As described above, we are trying to build an eco friendly house using the strict requirements for Passive House, nZEB & LEED as our guidelines. I’ll explain a bit more about these requirements. I personally see them as one as they crossover in many area’s.

Passive House

credit: passivhaus institut (

I guess this simple picture says it all. A healthy house with all the insulation required to ensure that the temperature inside as well as the air quality is perfect. I’m not sure if you ever lived in a hot climate. Summer here in Seville is pretty hot. For example we get quite a bit of days that the temperature is 40º celsius or above. So we use proper insulation all around; floor, walls, roof & windows to keep the heat out in the summer.

Next to that we want an air ventilation system to always have fresh oxygen inside. This combined with a heat pump to ensure a comfortable temperature in summer as well as winter. The heat pump converts the temperature of the air to either cool or heat the fresh oxygen in the house. All very simple when you say it like this. However, there is plenty of work done behind the scenes by our architects Elena & David together with their team [click] from enmedio studio – environmental factory.

If you want all the technical bits please read more at the PassivHaus Institute [click]

nZEB – net Zero Energy Building

We aim to have a home with zero net energy consumption. In other words, the total amount of energy we use on an annual basis equals the amount of renewable energy created on our land. Using the PassivHaus requirements we “just” need to add renewable energy sources.

As I mentioned before, we live in a climate where the sun shines many days of the year. So … let’s use the sun as our main energy source.

building our eco friendly house

I guess the challenge is, if we can stretch our budget to pay for the costs from day 1 or if it’s a one-step-at-a-time approach. Perhaps we can only start with a few solar panels and increase it until we are completely off-grid.

LEED – Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design

I’ve lived in several countries and try to incorporate what I’ve learned from other cultures in my own life. Therefore I believe we can use best practices and innovation from around the globe to ensure we get the best “green building” home we can afford.