on 26 Jan 2023 10:06 AM
  • Energy rehabilitation
  • materials
  • LIFE ReNatural NZEB

The Junta de Extremadura has been researching for a decade on how to rehabilitate homes with local materials and convert the places where we work, reside and live into sustainable and energy efficient spaces. This is how LIFE ReNatural was born, a project with European funding, whose main objective is the rehabilitation of buildings with sustainable materials.

To date, through LIFE ReNatural, constructive solutions for housing have been developed using rice husks, clay blocks, and cork, materials that can be found both in Extremadura and in Portugal, and which have served to cover four social housing in the neighborhood of Santa Engracia, in Badajoz. Rice husks have been used to make bricks and cork, hemp and kenaf have been used as thermal and acoustic insulation on roofs and façades. The project has also reached other areas of the province of Badajoz, specifically this same philosophy is being applied to the rehabilitation of a public building in La Bazana and the construction of four new social housing in Ribera del Fresno. In Mérida, a block of 16 social housing is being rehabilitated in the Lázaro neighborhood.

Extremadura promotes the construction materials of the future with European support - El Periódico Extremadura (



“We study the construction as a whole and its behavior. That is, we analyze the origin of the materials, the final use they will have and their subsequent recycling. With this, we seek that the project can be replicated in other places with native raw materials from the area in which it is going to be carried out”, affirm Esther Gamero and Fernando Babiano, technical developers of the project.

LIFE ReNatural has, in turn, a social and inclusive character. One of the purposes of the project is that the entire production phase of the materials is developed in the region. For this reason, they work with professional groups and local companies so that, in the not too distant future, the entire construction process can be local.


Obtain European funding from the public administration

“The public administration has many requests and needs that are given priority over innovation projects like this. If it weren't for programs like LIFE, we wouldn't have the opportunity to develop these lines of research”, affirm Gamero and Babiano.




Esther, Fernando, would you encourage other public entities or private companies to opt for this type of aid?

Of course. Accessing this type of aid allows you to open your mind, discover new criteria and have a broader perspective of what may correspond to the administration. There are many funds allocated to this type of project that, unfortunately, many times we do not know about.

"European support allows you to have perspective on how things are done in other places and create very positive synergies"


How do you assess the role of the EU in supporting this type of innovation projects?

It is very positive in all aspects. It favors the exchange of knowledge as it promotes collaboration with other companies that have partners in other countries. In other words, it generates a lot of cooperation and allows you to have a perspective on how things are done in other places and create very positive synergies in terms of innovation.


How can Extremadura benefit from the administration undertaking this type of initiative? What impact do you think it can have?

This project has a social character. With ReNatural we have developed constructive solutions that are being applied in social housing for people with low resources. These energy efficient solutions make homes consume less energy, which has a positive impact on their economy.


Five tips for any entity that considers applying for these grants


EU funding opportunities for innovators 

There are many SMEs, start-ups and innovative entities that have made their projects a reality thanks to the European Union.

The CEI Accelerator offers SMEs, start-ups and entrepreneurs the possibility of accessing grants of up to 2.5 million euros to finance projects with a certain risk, but with great potential. In addition, it also allows access to capital investment for commercial activities and reinforcement of its international presence. Spain is the country that has had the most success in obtaining this aid with 1,034 projects financed (if we take into account its predecessor, the SME Instrument) between 2014 and 2022.

The LIFE Program, for its part, supports projects by companies and institutions on the environment or climate action with up to 60% of the total budget. LIFE has just turned 30 and in this period it has supported more than 900 projects in our country.