Valldaura has a group of laboratories researching into self-sufficiency that aims to be self-sufficient in the next few years. The group comprises three laboratories: Food Lab, Energy Lab and the Green FabLab which produce the three things we need to be self-sufficient: food, energy and many of the things essential to the good life, combining the age-old ancestral knowledge that connects us to nature with the latest advanced technology.
The laboratories are geared to investigating the processes involved in the production of energy, food and things locally, using the resources of the immediate environment, and developing technologies and knowledge that can be employed in the construction of a new global human habitat.
As part of the production cycle we have created the Green FabLab, a digital fabrication lab that uses natural resources and is a partner in the international network of FabLabs led by MIT in Boston, and part of the Plan Avanza national network of laboratories in Spain.
One of our lines of research is centred on the development of new materials from natural ingredients such as wood, earth or minerals for building, to make bricks, glass and resins using simple ancestral technologies and modern high-tech processes.
At Valldaura we can carry out the complete cycle of matter transformation, from a sustainably managed tree in the forest which gives us wood that is dried, designed, and cut on machines running on renewable energy to produce furniture and structural elements.
The laboratory has several traditional bòvila brickyard kilns of the type traditionally found on large rural estates in Catalonia; at Valldaura the brickyard was located in what is now the restaurant area.
Valldaura aims to be a self-sufficient environment capable of meet its needs by means of renewables. The keystone of the whole system is the Energrid research project, developed by IaaC for Endesa, in collaboration with the i2Cat Foundation, and being implemented for the first time at Valldaura Labs. Energrid is a kind of energy Internet, a system in which the various Valldaura buildings produce and consume, store or share energy according to strict principles of efficiency. Each electrical node (switch or power point) has a microcomputer (developed in the project) that monitors individual consumption and can avoid demand peaks by actively managing consumption. It is intended to introduce this model in the urban environment over the next few years. At Valldaura, energy comes from a biomass plant that uses local resources, as well as solar panels and mini wind-turbine systems.
At Valldaura we are also developing the HydroGrid project in order to ensure efficient water management, based on the principle of having five different tanks to allow the most appropriate kind of water to be used for each purpose. Clean water, roof rainwater, surface runoff from the plazas, greywater and sewage are recycled for maximum water saving.
Valldaura is also developing the Global Traceability of Matter project, in order to extend our awareness of all the materials and transformation processes involved in the production of any object, including residues and re-use.
We need the energy we get from food. Valldaura was agricultural land in the first part of the 20th century, and we are now recovering an activity that is not only productive but also generates biodiversity in the Collserola Natural Park. Food production is based on various forms of cultivation including organic gardens, orchards, edible forests and farm animals, all managed by researchers and students.
In the field of food management we are associated with the international Slow Food organization, whose headquarters are in Italy, and with its partner universities. We are creating a Bio-gastronomy School with top-class chefs who follow the principles of organic production and the zero-mile diet. We close the cycle of food production all the way to human consumption and the subsequent production of energy and new nutrients for the soil, researching technologies for both large- and small-scale food production.
There will be parallel benefits in waste management, effectively closing the circle of nutrient management by way of a transformation process with implications for energy and the economy.