Press release

TECNALIA awards first HQE® sustainable housing certificate to new Viuda de Sainz housing project in Bilbao

30 April 2020
  • TECNALIA is the only organisation competent to award the certification in Spain, and this building, planned for calle Bruno Mauricio Zabala, has been the first to receive it 


23 April 2020. The research and technological development centre TECNALIA awarded the first HQE sustainable housing certificate to the new housing development being built by Viuda de Sainz in Bilbao. HQE certification recognises overall building performance, taking into account its energy, environmental, health and comfort impacts, to ensure user comfort and optimised building profitability. TECNALIA is the only organisation competent to award the certification in Spain, and this building has been the first to receive it.

The new project, named Kosta Zabala, is located in an area undergoing intensive regeneration, on calle Bruno Mauricio Zabala, close to the new Abando rail station. It will consist of 46 housing units, each with its own garage and storage area. The building was awarded the certificate in the design phase, after being assessed by TECNALIA, working with ArrutiArk architecture studio.

It is a sustainable construction, designed to guarantee healthy, productive living spaces and a high standard of comfort for the occupants. Implementing the sustainability criteria demanded by HQE certification means reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting better to climate change, among other benefits.

Sustainable materials and electricity

The sustainable measures featured in the project include the use of certified EPD (Environmental Product Declaration) materials in structure and façades. Materials were selected to comply with technical quality, environmental and health requirements.

The project uses air source heat pumping (ASHP) rather than thermal solar power. ASHP is a renewable technology that absorbs heat from outside air, making it ideal for weather conditions in Bilbao. The residential block was also given a building energy rating of A.

Sustainable transport is another concern, and the project includes bicycle parking at ground level. Additionally, all vehicle parking spaces are fitted with electric charge points.

HQE Certification

HQE (for High Quality Environment) certification has been around for more than 20 years. It is used as a means of assessing and certifying sustainability in construction, urban planning and infrastructures, with the aim of delivering a healthier living environment. Accordingly, the certificate assesses impacts in four categories: Health, Comfort, Environment and Energy HQE is a tool for progress. It prioritises people's health and comfort and maximises the building's productivity and performance, extending its useful life. It also contributes to global sustainability targets.

Implementing the HQE certification process offers benefits for builders, developers and future users, responding to the need to reduce our environmental impact and carbon footprint.


TECNALIA is a benchmark Research and Technological Development Centre for Europe, with 1,400 professionals representing 30 different nationalities, focusing on transforming technology into GDP to improve people's quality of life, by creating business opportunities for companies. Its key scopes of action are: Digital Transformation, Advanced Manufacturing, Energy Transition, Sustainable Mobility, Urban Ecosystem and Health.