The Iglesias Green Construction Hub
In Iglesias (Sardinia), Renovo has begun construction of a Green Construction Hub, a complex designed in view of the pursuit of technological innovation, energy efficiency and renewable energy. This initiative is particularly significant for Sulcis, an area with one of the highest unemployment rates in Italy. The Hub is located at the facility decommissioned by Rockwool Italia in 2009, which has thus been renovated and made into a symbol of the revitalisation of the local economy.
The project won the competition 99 Ideas for Sulcis focusing on development projects for Sulcis held by the Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Territorial Cohesion, the Region of Sardinia, the Province of Carbonia-Iglesias and the municipalities of Sulcis-Iglesiente.
The Hub, which is fully managed by Renovo, is composed of a cogeneration plant with a capacity of 999 kWe and 4 MWth and a plant that produces wood and cork fibre thermal insulation panels and will be completed by a green construction technology and materials research centre. The founding partner of the initiative is the San Lorenzo Social Cooperative of Iglesias, one of the largest third sector organisations in the Sulcis area.
The cogeneration plant is fuelled by locally produced forestry biomass (from woods located in Sulcis) and agro-industrial waste and by-products. The panels are also produced from processed wood harvested during woodland maintenance and from cork harvested from traditional Sardinian cork plantations.
In keeping with our vision, we designed the biodistrict to combine industry, the environment and the social fabric. From an environmental standpoint, sourcing activities will result in proper maintenance of woodlands, exploitation of marginal land and use of agro-industrial waste, and thus will make a valuable contribution to fire prevention. In addition, several prized local resources such as cork, eucalyptus and pine will be economically exploited, yielding benefits for those involved in producing these resources.
The two plants are also synergistically integrated: on the one hand, the scrap resulting from production of the panels is used as energy biomass, while on the other the thermal energy is used to dry out the virgin wood used to produce the panels, thus increasing the project’s energy and resource efficiency. A portion of the thermal energy is also sold to an adjacent company through district heating.
The wood and cork thermal insulation panels are innovative from an environmental standpoint because they are fully environmentally friendly and biodegradable, which is not the case for products of fossil origin. They ensure building energy efficiency and promote a reduction of the greenhouse gases caused by heating and cooling systems. According to our estimates, the project will generate overall net savings of approximately 90,000 tons of CO2 each year.
The project has equal social value: when fully operational, it will create approximately 120 new jobs, with a particular focus on disadvantaged and underemployed workers, as identified by the San Lorenzo Social Cooperative.
On the basis of its method for calculating the SROI (Social Return on Investment), Renovo estimated the project’s socio-economic impact at an average annual social return of 6% of invested capital.
The renewable energy component of the Green Construction Hub was created with the involvement of the ethical fund Green Star – Bioenergy Sub-fund.
The cogeneration plant was regularly commissioned in autumn 2015.