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Passive Building Planned for Katowice
August 2, 2010   
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A company that runs a science and technology park in the southern city of Katowice has unveiled a design for a zl.100 million passive office building whose construction will begin in September.

The company is called Euro-Centrum and the building was designed by Polish architect Sławomir Kostur together with Germany’s Walter Braun, the designer of Europe’s largest passive building, Lu-teco, in the city of Ludwigshafen.

According to standards set by Germany’s Passive House Institute in Darmstadt, a passive building is one that requires less than 15 kWh/sq m per year for its heating (the equivalent of 1.5 liters of heating oil or 1.5 cubic meters of natural gas), compared with 120 kWh/sq m for a traditional building.

Solar cells, thick walls and heat recovery

“We designed the building to draw only 12 percent of its energy requirements from traditional sources; the rest will be provided by various technologies and passive energy sources,” said Kostur while unveiling a scale model of the building.

Solar cells and collectors will harness the Sun’s energy, the former to create electricity and the latter to heat water. Geothermal heat pumps and specially designed ceilings will replace traditional heating methods. The ceiling design will utilize the well-known properties of thick walls, which absorb external heat in the summer and keep in warmth in the winter. The temperature of water used for heating in the pipes will be kept at around 30 degrees Celsius instead of the traditional 80 degrees, which will prevent unnecessary losses due to heat dissipation. This will be accompanied by yet another innovation, a heat recovery ventilation system, according to Kostur. Its main component will be a heat recovery installation built into the roof, which will recover heat from the air as it is expelled. During the heating season, this can help recover up to 75 percent of heat. During winter, ice-cold water will be used to chill incoming air. Additional insulation will be provided by passive windows and external blinds.

The building will be nearly three times larger than a previous energy-saving building that Euro-Centrum constructed on the same site a year ago. Its 6,000 sq m surface will house offices, hi-tech laboratories, including a 9-meter-high lab for testing bulky machinery, conference rooms as well as all the various measurement, computer and communications equipment required by the companies and research centers the building is intended for.

All the required paperwork has been approved and construction will start in September, with completion scheduled for 2012, Euro-Centrum says.

Tenants will include companies doing research on energy conservation. Since the project will be partially financed from the European Regional Development Fund (EFRD), tenants can expect a 30 percent discount in rent, according to Euro-Centrum.
The project will cost nearly zl.100 million, with roughly zl.69 million coming from European Union coffers.

About the investor

The Euro-Centrum Science and Technology Park in Katowice focuses on energy-saving technology and energy conservation within buildings. To this end it offers infrastructure, financial support, training, counseling and educational services. It aims to facilitate access to modern research and know-how and provide a welcoming environment for hi-tech companies.

Euro-Centrum works with local institutions of higher learning, including the AGH University of Science and Technology, the Silesian University of Technology, the Częstochowa University of Technology, and the University of Silesia. Euro-Centrum provides these institutions with opportunities to put their research results to a commercial use.

According to Euro-Centrum, the new passive building will enable scientists and businesspeople to conduct practical research into energy-saving technologies and renewable energy sources. The building will be a “living” example of state-of-the-art construction technology and a hotbed for its further refinement.

Ewa Dereń

Focus on Energy Efficiency

A previous innovative project by Euro-Centrum, an energy-efficient—albeit not completely passive—office building constructed a year ago, won praise from the judges of a Katowice innovation contest earlier this year.

That energy-saving building uses two-thirds less energy than a conventional building of the same size. The modern technologies it employs make it possible to reduce energy consumption for both heating and cooling. Renewable energy sources, in the form of geothermal wells, are used for the heating, part of which is also served by a ventilation system with heat recuperation. The building features thermal shields, “passive” windows with triple glazing, and a system of external blinds. An automated solar panel system rolls down the blinds and sets them at an optimal angle after detecting a sufficient amount of sunshine. The building was specifically oriented in relation to wind flows to obtain the highest energy savings possible. The compact design makes for an advantageous ratio of wall to room surfaces. Offices have been located all around the building to maximize access to natural light.

The building functions normally during the workweek but goes into an energy-efficient standby mode during weekends. It has been designed to house innovative companies with high technological requirements as well as research institutions and laboratories.
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