By: Maria Gotti | Sustainability Projects and Practice Sharing Analyst at Enel | May 4th, 2017

A training centre completely built using recycled materials from the worksite of the Sierra Gorda (112MW) wind farm located in the desert of Antofagasta, 60km from Calama in Chile. An eco-technological workshop where women and the elderly from the Baquedano community, a small village of almost 550 inhabitants, learn artisan activities with the aim of initiating small local enterprises.

A new life generates from recycled materials through a Circular Economy model: the large wooden spools that once wrapped up electrical cables have become furniture, doors or benches. The canvases used to cover worksite materials have been used to waterproof roofs. Even the shirts used during construction have found a new life as thermal insulation inside the walls made of local clay soil and recycled cardboard. It is the Taller de Eco Tecnologías of the Baquedano community.

The centre’s 100 square metres are a little jewel of creativity. The integration of conventional and non-conventional renewable technologies, together with the use of recycled materials and techniques of bio-construction, has allowed us to create an environmentally - friendly place that is respectful of local traditions.

The Taller came into being through collaboration with the Sembra Association, a Chilean organisation that promotes sustainable development in rural communities by engaging them in professional training projects to start up small artisanal businesses.

The Eco-Technology Laboratory is a place for gathering and training people and involved 30 female heads of families and 21 elderly members of the local community.

In the centre’s space, the Sembra association organizes workshops of eco-carpentry, to produce doors, windows, tables and chairs, and of bio-construction, in order to teach how to create infrastructure with low environmental impact, using the land, recycled plastic, cardboard, cotton and discarded wood. This recycled paper and other sub-products are processed and transformed into notebooks, lamps, rings and earrings.

The visitors to the Eco-Technology Workshop can immediately notice three tandem bikes placed under the arbour of the central courtyard: they are the bicycles that help power the centre’s Bike-Cinema.

The pride and joy of the Taller’s creativity, the Bike-Cinema uses the kinetic energy produced by pedalling on the tandems together with energy taken from photovoltaic panels installed on the roof.

The cinema itself, which will host its first film festival in 2017, is also a sort of showroom for the products made in the workshop.

Besides the benches built with pallets and the light fixtures made from bicycle rims, the space is decorated with large posters on wood showing movie characters like Harry Potter and Charlie Chaplin.

The first weeks of operation in 2016 were a great success. For 2017, in addition to the courses already in progress, there will be workshops for the production of stoneware and ceramics, to be transformed into eco-sustainable jewellery, and of wood, to be used to create furniture, fixtures and even toys.

Thanks to this strategic partnership and the positive outcomes in Baquedano, the Eco Technology Lab in the Sembra Association Headquarters in Nogales was used for other projects in the country. In February 2017 a group of 4 women coming from the community of Coronel have also attended a course for one month during which they learnt how to build a house and furnish in an innovative and sustainable manner. Enel is present in the Coronel area with Bocamina Thermal Power Plant (478MW), hence relations with the community of Coronel are of outstanding importance for the company.

This is an example of a scalable solution that can be applied in various contexts at country level since it promotes and enables access to electricity, innovation, sustainability, circular economy and women empowerment.  

VALUE FOR ENEL

Reducing the industrial costs of the waste management of the wind power plant of Sierra Gorda with circular economy solutions such as: deposition, removal of containers and transport of material to authorized landfill. Test innovative industrial solutions to promote the use of renewable energy sources. Synergy with strategic partners for scalable solutions.

VALUE FOR THE STAKEHOLDERS

Development of local entrepreneurship and promotion of women empowerment. Creation of new job opportunities in an environmentally friendly area. Gain access to electricity through innovative capacity building programs. 

Project Card - Eco Technology.pdf