How the largest dump in San Juan became a sustainable space « Diario La Capital de Mar del Plata

By Florence Vaveluk

The Anchipurac Environmental Center, “lightning” in the Huarpe language, located where the largest dump in the province of San Juan used to be, is an educational space with bioclimatic architecture that combines “the three variables of sustainability: the social, the environmental and the the economical”, and does not emit greenhouse gases, assured Claudia Agnelli, director of the place.

Located on the San Juan desert, at the foot of Mount Parkinson is this pioneering environmental center that in 2020 was recognized by the Federal Council for the Environment (Cofema) as the first environmental monument of sustainable architecture in the country.

The building, which is located in an area that was previously an open-air dump, “shows how an unfavorable pollution situation can be reversed and transformed into a good reality based on appropriate environmental practices and public policies,” he said in dialogue with Telam Agnelli.

“We work with teams on education and technology, and we care a lot about the three variables of sustainability: social, environmental and economic,” he added.

Anchipurac also produces clean and renewable energy to supply electricity and acclimatize the environment of the 4,000 square meters that make up the building complex; in this way, 60% of the energy used is generated by a solar plant located in the parking lot, while heating and cooling depend on geothermal energy.

Opened in 2019, Anchipurac It depends on the Secretary of State for the Environment and Sustainable Development of the Government of San Juan and is part of the Environmental Complex of that province together with the Environmental Technology Park and the Regional Environmental Technological Industrial Park.

The latter receives transportation with solid urban and biodegradable waste 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to separate, classify and recover it in recycling tasks, or to dispose of it as a sanitary landfill.

Years ago, the space “was an open dump that was expanding precisely because of the activities that the human being had taken as a means of life. In this place, the children played while the grown-ups looked for something to survive with,” Agnelli recalled.

Anchipurac 3 Environmental Center

The place did not stop accumulating waste until 2009, when the local Environment Secretariat “decided to take action, and together with several multidisciplinary teams, began the recovery of more than five thousand hectares degraded by waste,” explained the director of the center.

“Awareness and social remediation actions” were adopted that allowed the creation of “more than 400 green jobs; a solution was provided to this environmental and human problem, and these people were incorporated to work inside the waste treatment plant”, said Agnelli.

Currently, the 15 rooms with thematic exhibitions, cinema, laboratory -and even a station that allows knowing the carbon footprint that each person emits- make up the two-hour tour of the interior of Anchipurac, to which we must add another two hours to visit the outside where you make contact with the nature of the desert.

In addition to research and environmental recovery, art also has a place in this center that has five sculptural plazas where 19 works of art built from the recovery of waste received at the treatment plant are exhibited.

“This space is science and art merged so that the visitor interprets the message in one way or another. We always find the fragile point of the person who visits”, considered Agnelli, who added that from the environmental center it has the vocation to comply with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2050, among which is the zero emission of gases. greenhouse into the atmosphere.

In parallel, the bioclimatic design with which the complex was built also enables energy savings of more than 50% compared to other buildings, by taking advantage of the environmental resources of the area.

“The center is designed for everyone,” said Agnelli, and its activities allow them to delve into educational actions such as “the treatment of effluents, planting trees to reduce the carbon footprint, compost workshops, drip irrigation and paper reduction. and inks, generating a minimum consumption in the place”.

“It is inspiring and motivating for visitors, and it allows for a change where everyone wants to do something, whether in their company or school, and that is a hinge point between Anchipurac and society,” he added.

Environmental Center Anchipurac 5

Research is another of the central axes of the center, which is carrying out a project for soil regeneration, in addition to having its own laboratory for secondary school students to carry out professional internships together with universities.

“We believe that to achieve quality education we need to link education with research and the transfer of this knowledge, so that it is directly transferred to society,” said Agnelli.

Students from schools from all over the country come to Anchipurac – which has already been visited by more than 120,000 people – and even “visitors from other countries” come, said the director, who highlighted the experience of the children and their “impressive power to teach adults” about environmental issues.

“Through the last action of environmental micro-documentaries that we carried out, the teachers made the children participate and they their parents, who got hooked and worked a lot,” he explained.

Finally, the director that the place can be visited every day of the year except for January 1, December 25 and May 1.

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