Description of the active role towards local sustainable energy in Europe

Reasons for nominating Ms. Maria del Rosario Heras:

1.- She is the reference in Spain for solar passive energy and bioclimatic architecture. The Phd Maria del Rosario Heras, is a reference of the development of solar passive energy and bioclimatic architecture in Spain and Europe. She has been working on that during the last 40 years, mainly in sectorial regulation, at the level of the building’s technical code and standardization.

2.- Maria is strongly connected to Castilla y León region. She has launched and kept alive the Master of Renewable Energy in Zamora, belonging to the prestigious University of Salamanca, for more than a decade, which is a strong support for the sector of capacity skills in renewables in the Castilla y León region.

3.- She has always been working hard for the energy advancements. Spreading the smart use of solar energy as a form of energy contribution in a frame in which the technical solution by default was “install a larger boiler”. She managed to convince the Spanish and EU regulators of the importance of energy savings, when on the other side of the table, there were the huge construction or energy companies strongly linked to the use of fossil fuels.

4.- Because she has been able to work out her laboratory, region and country. In her 42 years of profession she has researched in Applied Physics on Solar Energy, initially in thermal use and later in thermal conditioning of buildings for energy saving. She is an expert in Energy Efficiency in Building on theoretical and experimental Energy Evaluation of Components, Buildings and urban Environments.

She has participated as a leader with an enviable strategic vision and leadership, being responsible for innovation projects with public and private, academic and business institutions, etc. whose results have not only been brilliant doctoral theses, but real buildings in which to measure, show and prove that you can build better, without more cost and offering your user more comfort and quality of life. She has always had an outlook towards the outside, working with professionals, companies and institutions of management highlighted the European, who have financed many of their initiatives and those of Spanish America with which Spain has always had a special relationship, her patent in Mexico would be proof of that.

Creativity

The novelty introduced by Dr. Heras, since the mid-eighties, has been to improve the analysis of building thermodynamic behaviour comprehension (basis for saving and renewable energy) with a scientific point of view in a context where this analysis was almost exclusively empirical due to the architects and engineers’ developments.

She founded, for the first time in Spain, a specific R&D&I working group, integrating the energy-testing laboratory and a “Living lab” of energy auto consumption. In the beginnings to monitoring buildings in real conditions, considering diverse Spanish climates. Sharing her achievements with other R&D centres, EIA, EERA etc., has allowed a better understanding of the European buildings’ thermodynamic behaviour.

Dr. Heras has gone further, being one of the pioneers in considering the synergies of a building with contiguous elements (roads, parks, etc.) thus surpassing with the urban “understanding”, the purely architectural and individual one. This new conception is so important because it ensures that “smart cities” are really smart, raising her as one of the pioneers of the “smart city concept”.

She innovates integrating private companies in the research initiatives, making possible that innovations finally end in the buildings. Unequivocal proof are the 35 R&D contracts of special relevance developed with companies and administrations.

Finally her outstanding achievements are highlighted by the dissemination of these concepts in the academic, normative (Directives, legal specifications, regulations, etc.) and scientific environment, considering a context such as urban planning, where energy had been a very marginal issue.

Impact

Dr. Heras has been participating uninterruptedly in the development of all Spanish and European regulations on energy in building during the last 35 years. In this context, she has defended energy saving and the possibilities of a more intelligent use of solar energy. On many occasions, she has done so against the interests of energy companies or against the incomprehension and inertia of certain technicians who were too convinced of conventional solutions and short-term visions.

The cumulative impact of more than 3 decades, avoiding more lax technical building regulations in the face of irresponsible or systematically fossil fuel-based energy consumption, can be counted in hundreds of millions of euros, tons of CO2, jobs, etc. On the other hand, her dissemination work through conferences, courses, doctoral theses, technical documents, etc., have improved the qualification of many professionals, who have incorporated their know-how into all the innovation and R & D developed by the groups of work led by her. This transfer of knowledge towards the business sector, thus increasing competitiveness, is reflected in her work as technical coordinator of large public-private consortiums of innovation projects in the construction of buildings together with world-class companies such as Acciona, Ferrovial, etc.

Strategic Vision

The vision of Dr. Heras in particular for Castilla y León has been based on two concepts, proposals for the improvement or incorporation of new energy allocations to our buildings, as well as the improvement of the qualifications of our professionals. Only attending to the most recent, Dr. Heras has proposed the development for both cities Zamora and Salamanca integral projects of thermal networks in which the use of several renewable sources are integrated with bioclimatic architecture concepts.

In addition, her technical contribution has been very relevant in the improvement of singular buildings such as in Zamora and especially the technological demonstration building of Ceder in Soria. Dr. Heras has also organised for almost a decade the Master of the University of Salamanca on renewable energy sources, which has provided more than 200 students, both Spanish and South American, with a degree.

Final proof of this commitment with Castilla y León, are the awards she received in this area as the “Human Commitment” 2013 of the regional news agency ICAL, the Castilla y León Prize for ‘Protection of the Environment 2013’of the Castilla y León Regional Government and the Special Prize on’ Sustainable Construction ‘2014 of the Institute of the Construction of Castilla y León.

Leadership

  • Her responsibilities and honours long endorse the trust in her leadership capacity of very diverse institutions and at different times:
  • Member of the scientific jury of the Prince of Asturias Award, the most prestigious award in Spain.
  • President of the Spanish Royal Society of Physics since 1986.
  • Named ‘Top 100 Woman’ in the category “Academics and Researchers” in 2011 and nominated for 2012, 2013 and 2014.
  • Spanish representative in “Solar Energy in Building” of DG XII R & D – U.E.

In this sense, she highlights her personal charisma in an environment dominated mainly by engineers and men, where she has been on numerous occasions since the mid-seventies, not only being the first, but also the only woman to have access to certain responsibilities. On the other hand, Dr. Heras has led the way in the development of passive solar energy or bioclimatic architecture, so the department created by it in the Ciemat” R&D Unit on Energy Efficiency in Building”, is, currently, one of international references in this field.