During 2013 the Ecoconstruction Department at Sunseed has been refurbishing an old ruin to build a new kitchen in Isabellas. Many volunteers have taken part in this project. This slide show video shows the evolution of the whole process. We hope you enjoy it!
Four traditional Andalucian houses, located in a conservation area, are used by the project for accommodation, offices, workshops. Facilities are very basic; there are no mains services. Photovoltaic panels provide electricity, Solar panels are used for water heating, and water for washing is pumped via a ram pump from the river that flows all the year round in the valley. Drinking water has to be brought by van 7 km away from a public fountain in the nearest town.
In line with our philosophy we recycle and reuse materials wherever possible and make as much use from locally available materials such as river stones and caña (a locally growing cane). We are increasingly trying to incorporate more ecological building materials into the traditional method of building.
The responsibilities of the Eco Construction and Maintenance Assistant require all-round skills ranging from plumbing repairs to joinery. Volunteers from many countries are keen to help with the building work, often having more enthusiasm than skills. Good supervisory skills are therefore required along with an excellent understanding for the need and application of clear Health and Safety standards.
There are also many opportunities to offer new ideas to improve the running of the project and of working with other departments.
Planning and Organisation
There is the opportunity to discuss day-to-day issues at weekly staff meetings and each department works to a small budget, which the co-ordinator has the responsibility of keeping to. Regular meetings provide support and guidance in planning and implementing the required tasks.
General departmental responsibilities
Working with own and other department co-ordinators
Assisting and supervising volunteers in carrying out tasks
Building Maintenance and improvements
General repairs to roofs, floors, doors, etc and basic plumbing installations
Plastering, painting and finishing with lime wash
Tools and materials supervision
Applying Safety rules
Instructing on proper tool use
Ensuring unsafe tools are not used
Maintaining and repairing tools
Co-ordinating materials use
Experience and knowledge of building skills including plumbing, plastering, woodwork etc.
Tolerance of hard physical work in hot conditions
Ability to organise work schedules
Ability to lead and motivate volunteers, who range from those with a wealth of experience to those with little or none.
Ability to work in co-operation with other departments
Experience of Ecological building
Ability to communicate well in Spanish and English
Clean Driving Licence
This Job Description should be read in conjunction with the General Job Description.
Further improvements have been carried out in the Arboretum. They include; the restoration of a dry stone wall, planting mediterranean plants, labeling of plants for identification and the creation of an interpretive panel and map guide to the Arboretum.
The restoration of the dry stone wall, in collaboration with the department of Bioconstruction, primarily aimed to prevent erosion of land adjoining the upper terraces and in turn prepare the ground for later planting seeds. The planting of herbaceous species, shrubs and mediterranean trees had the objective of continuing the species (kermes oak, cork oak, holly oak, wild olive, mastic, etc.) already present located along the edge of the plot.
The creation of an interpretive panel and map guide informs residents and visitors about the work of the department focused on the regeneration of vegetation cover within the “Paraje Natural Karst en Yesos de Sorbas”.
The labeling of plants allows visitors to learn about the identification of both mediterranean and exotic plants adapted to semiarid climates.
As Sunseed is always looking for accommodations for Staff and Volunteers, Ecological Building Department is renovating the old laboratory which is no longer in use and preparing a nice new room in Isabella’s house.
As we roll into summer it is hard to imagine needing heat here but those people who have visited in the winter months will know how important the stove in the main house is. Jef ran a course in Kachelofen building, a thermal mass stove with the potential to heat many rooms in a house. Along with the 6 people who came on the course he started reconstruction on our existing Kachelofen. The new design will incorporate an oven for bread. The stove just has more and more functions: room heating, water heating (for showers), and now cooking; all of this using a fraction of the wood in a normal stove, thermal mass stoves use 70% less wood. The group who came on the course had a brilliant and intensive time working hard and learning lots each day. They learned about bricklaying, clay mortar mixing, chimney building and how to calculate the dimensions for different spaces and stoves. They all want to build their own in their own homes as they understand the importance of small-scale and local energy sufficiency. Asking lots of questions and taking notes and photos, the participants now have some of the skills to do it themselves.
Natural Clay Plaster Course 19-20 May
This was followed by a weekend course in Natural Clay Plasters where people learned how to build a bench with cob, plaster walls with sand and clay mixes and make up paints with natural dyes such as paprika and turmeric spices.