La Serena’s green energy initiative is already in motion with students soon expected to begin studies at a green friendly school and with patients to be welcomed at a green energy health center.
The coastal city and capital of the Coquimbo Region is aiming to decrease energy and water consumption by using the abundance of sunlight in Chile’s Norte Chico (“Little North”).
Green energy high school
This September, a group of 700 students will be the first class to go through La Serena’s first green energy high school, Liceo Jorge Alessandri, and with a price tag of US$7,367,326 (CLP3,540,000) provided by regional funds, it is sure to impress.
The high school was constructed with environmentally friendly materials and sustainable technology and will feature several green energy innovations.
These include classrooms illuminated with LED lighting, and evenings lighting of the patio by photovoltaic bulbs which use energy from converted solar radiation. Also, the garden will be watered with “greywater,” which is water that has been recycled on-site from domestic activities.
The high school building itself is coated with “Duraflon,” an eco-friendly preservative material, while the auditorium is made of recycled coigüe wood, which is a tree species native to southern Chile and is considered to be excellent timber.
Green energy health center
Thanks to an investment of US$5,619,147 (CLP2,700,000), La Serena’s health center or, “Centro de Salud Familiar Juan Pablo II,” only lacks a few remaining details before they open doors to provide services to an anticipated 30,000 people.
The Health Center will include 20 reception areas as well as rehabilitation, therapy and fitness rooms in a building with architecture that resembles that of a private clinic.
The green design of the Health Center will feature thermal panels to regulate temperature as well as huge wall and ceiling windows to allow for natural light.
The school and health center are the first two such green energy buildings to come to La Serena, and for the first initiatives of a campaign that Mayor Raúl Saldívar describes as one that: “seeks to provide building sustainability, to increase savings and to optimize the use of energy.”
Meanwhile, the Governor of the Coquimbo Region, Sergio Gahona, expects the green energy idea to be replicated in other parts of Chile.
“Hopefully investment initiatives will start to formulate in this area. . . so that national investment proposals will include energy and water saving proposals and increased use of natural light,” said Gahona.
Planning for a greener future
In the short term, La Serena’s anticipates green projects that include the construction of a new regional theater and library in the Casa de las Palmeras, the former house of Chile’s Nobel Prize winning poet, Gabriela Mistral.
Other plans include replacing the Arturo Prat Dario Salas School and Pedro Aguirre Cerda School and transforming part of the Coll Park into a botanical garden.
Furthermore, according to the Ministry of Transportation, city buses are expected to be lit through solar energy.