The building is the highest constructed building from cross-laminated timber (CLT) in Spain. CLT is well-known for its carbon sequestration benefits and typically shorter construction period required. Passive bioclimatic strategies were developed, with solutions that involve the users’ active role in climate management. All the residential units are organised around a central courtyard and beneath a polycarbonate roof that acts as a greenhouse, capturing solar heat energy during the winter and drawing in additional ventilation through the summer. La Borda has a centralised system to generate hot water and heating using a biomass boiler, and solar panels were installed on the upper terrace.
Co-operative involvement was crucial for defining the project’s environmental strategies, the participation of the building occupants in all phases, from the design to the construction and further operational management was essential. La Borda social housing complex in Barcelona was driven by its focus on community, proposing a new paradigm in social housing focussing on the basics of social, communal spaces. The cooperative decided not to build underground parking for cars and estimated a saving, after 75 years, (construction and use) of 500-800 tonnes of carbon dioxide. This strategy also gives a direct benefit in sustainable mobility and reducing the inhabitants’ ecological footprint. However to achieve this changes in the regulations were needed; this was made at city level in Barcelona, and now applies to all new buildings.
Communal decisions have been incorporated into the building’s management, where communal facilities, such as the shared laundry room, with five washing machines require less energy to run than one machine per household. Monitoring energy data revealed that, despite its communal usage, a disproportionate amount of energy was being expended by the laundry facilities. As a result, the community decided to run only one of the machines with hot water and as a result, energy consumption was reduced.