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Eco-friendly homes in the Algarve

XELBINVEST, AN Algarve-based development company, has created a project for 13 eco-friendly homes in the Silves area, as part of a national sustainable constructions programme, Energia e Construções Sustentáveis (ECOS), in conjunction with Silves Câmara.

The development, Vila Silvestre, has already been assessed as having an A+ energy rating by ADENE, the Portuguese Public Energy Agency. The low maintenance houses are designed to be constructed in an environmentally sensitive way, using energy efficient renewable materials.

“We want to lead the way in environmentally responsible housing, as we feel we should do what we can to make affordable, eco-friendly houses which are adapted to the local climate,” said Wolfgang Dubbert, co-owner of Xelbinvest. The proximity of this development to golf courses makes them very attractive for both residents and holiday-makers.

Each house has three en-suite bedrooms, one on the ground floor, two on the first floor. The mezzanine floor is suitable for an office or library. Every property also includes a swimming pool and an automatically irrigated, low maintenance landscaped garden, with plants that require little water and are adapted to the Algarvian climate.

“These houses are very versatile and are designed to be an affordable option,” said Wolfgang Dubbert.

Poroton bricks, imported directly from a factory in Spain, are used to construct the houses. These are interlocking terracotta bricks which provide high thermal insulation as well as needing little mortar.

The windows and doors used are made from solid wood grown from renewable sources. As well as being double glazed, they also have a special layer on the external glass which stops UV rays from penetrating into the home, thereby avoiding damage to fabrics and furniture caused by the sun’s rays.

“Both the bricks and the windows benefit from having low u-values, this is a measure of the rate of heat loss through a material, so the lower the value, the less heat is escaping from a material,” said Wolfgang Dubbert. “ Many double glazed windows have a u-value of 2.8, whilst the windows at Vila Silvestre have a value of just 1.0.”

An efficient and environmentally friendly boiler system will be installed in each home, providing hot water and under floor heating.

“The solar hydronic boiler system uses the sun’s energy to heat water, however, during the winter either a wood burner or a heat pump will also provide energy for hot water,” said Wolfgang Dubbert.

Other eco-friendly methods of construction and materials used in the houses include wooden ceilings with an eight centimetre thick insulation made from cork, a local material which comes from renewable sources, as well as low cement and high lime based render, which allows walls to breathe.

“As well as being eco friendly, each house benefits from an ergonomically designed and fully fitted kitchen which includes a central island with an induction hob, sink and breakfast bar, all with granite work surfaces” said Wolfgang.

Throughout the houses there will be internet, telephone and television connections in all main rooms as well as a satellite system and pre-installation for a sound system.

There are many features included in the design of these modern homes, from built in wardrobes to silicate dispersion paints which allow the walls to breathe as well as being durable and having anti-microbial and  fungicidal properties.

Vila Poente, a concept home near Silves, using all of the techniques that will be employed at Vila Silvestre is already nearing completion. It has a constructed area of 295sqm on a plot of land that is 5080sqm with water supply from a bore hole and cistern.

This villa was built to test all of the materials and techniques that will be used at the Vila Silvestre; it has worked very well and is now for sale, with extra features including a wine cellar and laundry area with connections for both a washing machine and a tumble dryer.

For more information about these eco-friendly and energy efficient homes, please contact Wolfgang Dubbert at Xelbinvest by telephone on

282 089 239 or 964 249 420. Alternatively, please email xelbinvest@netvisão.pt