Pioneers into Practice 2013 and onwards, my experience

At some point in early 2013 I was informed about the existence of the PiP programme. At that moment I was in the middle of a process of career reorientation. Likewise many other professionals in the Spanish building sector I had to move towards a greener and more sustainable philosophy.

In particular, I took advantage of my skills in sustainable water management and devoted all my efforts to the study and promotion of SuDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems) in Spain. I collaborated with other consultancies in different tasks related with SuDS: teaching on-line courses, writing of rainwater management regulations, collaboration in European projects, etc.

To be fair, I did not expect to get a perfect matching in the placements, due to my specific skills, but that did not occur. Matching was great! I did my regional placement at the City Council of Benaguasil (Valencia). They were at that moment starting their participation in a European Med Project call E2Stormed. The ultimate goal of this project is (because it is still going on) to improve energy efficiency in the urban water cycle and in buildings by promoting the use of SuDS in Mediterranean cities. This project is about SuDS! Isn’t it amazing? A small town only few kilometres away from my house was involved in a project dealing with issues I was especially interested and specialised at…

My role at the regional placement was related to the design of a green roof (that is in fact a type of SuDS) that was going to be constructed on a Social Centre. The building had to be thoroughly monitored in order to assess the impact that the green roof may have over its energy efficiency and over the rainwater runoff reduction.

The local experience was very positive to me. I had the opportunity to enlarge my expertise in SuDS together with a team of experts in energy monitoring from the Polytechnic University of Valencia.

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greenroof_benagua

Students visiting the Green Roof in Benaguasil (E2Stormed project, 2014)

But more thriving experiences in the PiP were yet to come. For the international placement I selected the Municipal Water and Sewage Company “MPWiK” of Wroclaw (Poland). The matching was perfect, again! They were interested in my skills because they were experiencing troubles with Combine Sewer Overflows in episodes of heavy rain. SuDS were indeed a sustainable part of the solution. I worked for the New Technologies and Research Centre, a department that had been recently created in order to promote innovation and the adoption of new technologies. The department was very interested in starting collaboration with other utilities with similar concerns. So, in order to explore new opportunities, I decided to contact people from Aguas de Valencia, which is this is the water utility managing water services in the metropolitan area of Valencia (Spain). The company treats and supplies potable water to more than 2 million people, and offer other services, like wastewater treatment, to almost 5 million people across Spain.

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MPwik_JC

Explaining benefits of SuDS in MPWiK

Now, almost two years later, and somehow thanks to the PiP programme, I work for the R&D Department of Aguas de Valencia. I am responsible of coordinating European R&D projects. This company has a strong commitment with technological advance based on innovation. In fact, Aguas de Valencia has developed several state-of-the-art technologies that allow us improving the efficiency of our processes in order to offer a better service. Moreover, there has been recently a shift towards a more open/collaborative R&D strategy, and the company is participating in different European projects, like LIFE ECODIGESTION, LIFE ADNATUR, DUTS, ENHANCE, SPADIS, etc.

And you know what? We are currently forging synergies and partnering with MPWiK, the polish utility, in the preparation of a large scale European H2020 Project that aims at revolutionizing the water supply service through innovative management systems. Both companies are absolutely committed to the development and implementation of technologies, systems and processes that help the water industry adapting to Climate Change and mitigating its effects.

To sum up, the PiP programme has represented for me an incredible opportunity to demonstrate my technical skills in a specific field; and now, I am leveraging all the knowledge acquired within the programme to promote innovation in a large company. Good deal.

Joan Carles Guardiola

MSc Civil Engineer

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