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During our Consortium meetings at the University Centre for Energy Efficient Buildings CTU in Prague (UCEEB), we also had the pleasure of a tour of the centre by Lukas Ferkl, our consortium member from Energoklastr.
The centre is situated just outside of Prague, oddly adjacent to a steel mill, projecting a counter to poor-environmental production, by researching, developing and providing the most environmentally conscious and effective solutions possible.
The building, and its surroundings, is a wonderful example of research and innovation development, purpose-built to allow for this to thrive. Beehives and various green roof testing beds inhabit the roofscape. Testing stations and development rooms inhabit the interior; sun simulator, solar panel integration within glazing, systems for air-cooling and heating... extracting water from the air and so on. All within a comfortable and environmentally-orientated building. Building materials are tested outside in mock constructions for their durability/combustability/energy ratings, set behind the reed bed filtration and aerated pond.
There is a superb quality of light, outdoor space, and landscaping, plus dogs are allowed - adding to a relaxed and comfortable working environment.
From the UCEEB website:
The entire UCEEB building is an example of the use of the latest energy efficiency trends and technology. The Centre's main facility was designed as a low-energy building using natural renewable construction materials - mostly wood. The building itself is used for experiments.
The author of the architectural concept is Professor Tomáš Šenberger. The building's main volume is represented by a 9 m high testing space, with lower single-floor laboratory and training facilities on its Northern and Eastern side and a visually dominant East to West administrative section on the roof of the laboratory facility in the form of a wooden block with oblique-angled ends.
The building's orientation, unorthodox structural system and varying envelope structures provide ideal conditions for its purpose. The East to West main longitudinal axis enables the placement of solar devices on the South-oriented section (solar panels on the main space's 34°- inclined rooflights, a 360 sq. m solar air collector on its South facade), while ensuring ample daylight for the laboratory section and the main testing space (through North-facing rooflights).
Laminated wood was selected for the load-bearing structure for all the sections (main testing space, single-floor and two-floor section) to demonstrate its advantages. Wood is also used as the principal material in most envelope structures – especially in the facades of the main testing space and the administrative section.
The architectural concept also includes targeted use of plants and greenery. Apart from landscaping, plants will also be used as an active part of the building – especially on some roofs, or as climbing plants on the Northern and Eastern facade. The building envelope on those two sides will include an outer layer of perforated metal grids to support the climbing plants.
Experiments implemented within the UCEEB building will facilitate full scale testing, enabling results providing accurate information on functional parameters of individual materials, structures, energy management systems and intelligent control systems, including impact on both the interior climate and the environment as a whole. To this end, an energy management system has been designed for the building to serve as an experimental bed to test the interaction of energy sources with the building itself and the energy grid.
The concept for the energy supply (electricity, heating and cooling) was not based on using sustainable energy at all costs, but aims to provide enough capacity for research activities in an efficient way. Renewable energy will be provided by an experimental array of photovoltaic panels with a peak output of approximately 40 kWp, installed on the roof. The core of the building's energy centre, however, is a cogeneration gas micro turbine with an output of 65 kWe/120 kWt, which will cover the variations in the supply of energy from the photovoltaic system. Another gas micro turbine with an electrical output of 30 kWe will be used for experimental purposes only. The UCEEB facility will also include two electric car charging stations.
Other technology in the energy centre is provided for efficient use of the heat produced by the micro turbine in the course of the year. To balance the difference between produced and consumed heating energy, a thermally-insulated large volume pressure energy store (20 cubic m) with a turbine will be installed under the ground next to the building and further two 5 cubic m stores will be provided in the energy centre itself. Each of these stores can be separately disconnected for experimental purposes. Two natural gas boilers with a total heating output of 216 kWt will be installed as a backup source. Secondary cooling for the gas micro turbine will be provided by two dry cooling units installed on the roof. During winters, the heating energy from the micro turbine will be used to heat the building and hot utility water, during summers it will be used to cool the three cascaded absorption units with a cooling output of 16 kWc, 34 kWc and 61 kWc respectively. The smallest of those cooling units can be disconnected for experimental purposes (solar cooling). A block compressor cooling unit with an output of 180 kWc will be used as a secondary cooling energy source. It is expected that the absorption units will be run at all times and the compressor cooling units will only be used to cover peak cooling demands. Two 2.5 cubic m cooling energy stores will be provided for the absorption units. The central cooling energy source (absorption units and the compressor unit) will also provide cooled water which will be necessary for certain laboratory equipment and for FanCoil units in the administrative section.
The energy centre is connected by pipeline to the RP2 laboratories (Energy systems in buildings for the purpose of full scale experiments). Most of the energy centre's equipment shall be monitored and evaluated as part of the parent I&C system, with their operational parameters (production and consumption of energy) monitored to verify the functionality of proposed concepts and further optimisation of installed energy sources' controls.
The location was selected to minimise the use of arable land. The plot is part of a former brownfield in the vicinity of the Poldi Klando steel works (currently billet rolling mill for Třinecké železárny).