UK-based company Green Concept Management has revealed plans to build what they say will be Europe’s first luxury sustainable resort, right here in the Algarve.
The project, called Eco Power Zero Residence, consists in the construction of 20 freestanding homes in the Portimão area, which the company claims will enable its inhabitants to live a CO2-free life.
With the support of Portimão council and in partnership with the University of the Algarve, this project will be “the first of its kind to boast zero carbon emission luxury homes in Europe”.
The aim is to show the rest of Portugal, and Europe, that a resort can be energetically self-sustainable from January to December, thanks to renewable energy from solar panels and micro wind turbines. On top of an individual renewable energy supply, sustainable construction and energy-saving appliances, each home will be provided with an electric car, enabling its inhabitants to get around the region while still respecting the environment.
To prove the project’s feasibility, Green Concept Management carried out research based on an average household of four permanent residents (in the Portimão area, occupying 300sqm with a high level of modern comfort).
The results show that this type of household produces around 42.5 tonnes of CO2 per year. However, should all of its electric energy be supplied by solar panels, it could save up to 37.5 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year, reducing the total emissions to just 4.5 tonnes. This means that the Eco Power Zero Residences could in fact provide 24-hour accommodation with just 10% of CO2 emissions compared to that of normal homes.
“We believe this is feasible in Portimão,” says Guy de Maillé, spokesperson for Green Concept Management.
Portimão mayor Isilda Gomes agrees: in an exclusive interview with the Resident, she said that “science and technology have evolved in such a way that I believe zero carbon emission will be possible one day”.
She added that “the Algarve is the ideal location for this type of project, due to its natural resources. We have a huge ability to harness and store solar power, thus we can take a big step towards reducing CO2 emissions”.
As a member of the National Board for Environmental and Sustainable Development, the mayor is naturally enthusiastic about this project, which she also hopes will create more quality tourism for the region. “I have no doubt this project is of great quality and it will certainly attract another type of tourists with more purchasing power, which is also what we aim for the city. We want to shake up the economy.”
The new development is set to be built in the Mexilhoeira Grande area, which was chosen for its “sun exposure, accessibility and closeness to key entertainment areas, such as beaches and golf courses”. It was also picked for “being an area which isn’t yet overpopulated”.
“For us, Portimão is the right place, considering the environment, sporting activities, roads, airfields and obviously the climate,” explains Guy de Maillé.
In fact, the local mayor says that “because the project will be built in Mexilhoeira Grande, it won’t add pressure to the coastal areas which are already heavily populated”.
It is part of why she looks favourably upon this project, which she believes is “different from anything we’ve seen before”.
“It deserves our best and utmost attention. On top of that, it is beautifully designed. Self-sustainable projects are a valuable contribution for tourism,” she told us.
“And since we have nothing like it at the moment, it would be great for Portimão, and the Algarve, to able to provide a project of this kind,” she added.
The energetic project for the luxury residences, which include five bedrooms, a swimming pool, garage and other facilities, was designed by the renowned French architect Henrich Fitger, using modern construction methods, especially in terms of thermal insulation and sun protection. The architectural design was entrusted to Portuguese architect João Nuno Laranjo, who created these modern home designs with a touch of the traditional Algarve villas he is well known for.
This green pilot resort will also serve as a research project for the University of the Algarve, which will have a special area on the grounds to develop and experiment with new renewable energy technologies.
Miguel José Oliveira, director of the university’s civil engineering department, points out that it’s “a pioneering project with a very important innovative component”, and since the University of the Algarve is equipped with the necessary know-how, it is happy to help develop and implement the project.
By Alex Stilwell