Passive Building

Published: December 9, 2013

Visualisation of the Silver Tower building integrated in the cityscape © Associated Architects Atelier d’Architecture de Genval - Accarain-Bouillot

 

The Passive House concept is gaining ground in many countries, but taking the concept into high-rise buildings certainly raises the game for Tractebel Engineering SSI (Smart Sustainable Infrastructure) working on SILVER TOWER: Brussels’ first passive office tower.

A HIGHER BUILDING AMBITION

A Passive building meeting the Passive House Standard, through its design, dramatically reduces the “active” energy requirements of the building, particularly its heating and cooling loads. Applying that to a 31 floor building with 40,000 m² office space for 2,000 employees, is unusual, but apparently quite achievable – when you put the right minds to it. Read more

AN AIR-TIGHT CASE

The first step to achieving a Passive building of any size is to create a well-insulated and virtually air-tight outer-shell; Find out more…

SIMPLE, SMART SOLUTIONS

With the aim to reduce overall energy requirements driving the studies and decision process, the additional goal to reduce construction and technical installation costs has required the team to focus on surprisingly simple, but smart solutions. Check the infographic


Visualisation of the Silver Tower building integrated in the cityscape © Associated Architects Atelier d’Architecture de Genval – Accarain-Bouillot

A HIGHER BUILDING AMBITION

A Passive building meeting the Passive House Standard, through its design, dramatically reduces the “active” energy requirements of the building, particularly its heating and cooling loads. Applying that to a 31 floor building with 40,000 m² office space for 2,000 employees, is unusual, but apparently quite achievable – when you put the right minds to it.

Raising Standards
While meeting passive building criteria will only become obligatory in January 2015, a regular client of Tractebel Engineering SSI, AG Real Estate, is moving ahead with architects; Atelier d’Architecture de Genval and Accarain & Bouillot, with plans to build, not just the first passive office tower in Brussels, but one of the highest passive buildings anywhere.

Contracted early 2013, SSI is handling the comprehensive engineering assignment (design, site supervision and commissioning) focussed on technical equipment and energy design optimization with 2 targets:

  • To achieve the Passive Standard, including engineering services required for Belgian EPB regulation and BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment method- level “Excellent”) international certification
  • To minimise construction and future maintenance costs.

Visualisation of the Silver Tower building integrated in the cityscape © Associated Architects Atelier d’Architecture de Genval – Accarain-Bouillot

An air-tight case

The first step to achieving a Passive building of any size is to create a well insulated and virtually air-tight outer-shell; minimising loss of passive heat and energy gains (using PV solar panels and harnessing the heat given off by electrical equipment and even people); the second step is to install equipment able to make efficient use of all energy gains to control temperature, ventilation and water heating etc., with minimal primary energy generation.

Above the rest

As a result, the SILVER TOWER building will have an aesthetic, but fully sealed, double-skin glazed facade, allowing generous light into the building, even as the calculated 10 cm space between its double glass walls ensures the best thermal transmission coefficient (minimum heat loss). Extra insulation is gained by a shadow-box arrangement on all office levels, leaving a full 55% of the exterior skin fully transparent. The space between the glass walls is equipped with a motorised solar protection (blind) system which moves automatically in function of the position of the sun.

While such a state-of-the-art shell may cost more than a classic glazed skin, the initial cost is more than made up for by the reduced energy and technical requirements of the building as a whole.

Active studies for passive solutions

Confirming key design decision and the optimal use of different technologies to meet its client’s goals, Tractebel Engineering has carried out numerous studies to assess:

  • The impact of location of the building; including the effect of shadows cast by neighbouring city buildings.
  • The effect and impact of different materials used.
  • Weather patterns in summer and winter in terms of temperature, wind, humidity, direct and diffused sunlight etc.
  • The change in thermal losses /gains via the shell in summer and winter.
  • Occupant comfort needs in terms of ambient temperature and ventilation.
  • The impact of different energy saving technologies: free-cooling, heat recovery from ventilation exhaust air, waste heat recovery, opportunity to use solar PV etc.

SIMPLE, SMART SOLUTIONS

With the aim to reduce overall energy requirements driving the studies and decision process, the additional goal to reduce construction and technical installation costs has required the team to focus on surprisingly simple, but smart solutions.Energy Efficiency for SILVER TOWER Brussels
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Infographic

Energy efficiency

“While many technically advanced energy efficient solutions exist that can be applied to a Passive Building; for example geothermal and heat pumps which are beautiful concepts, the challenge and satisfaction of this project has been the demonstration of the value of simple and smart solutions.” Gautier Baudru – SSI Project Manager SILVER TOWER

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