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Innovative and eco-friendly: the office of the future

Innovative and eco-friendly: the office of the future
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Called NuOffice and built in Germany, it is considered to be one of the most sustainable office buildings in the world. It uses energy-efficient heating, cooling, ventilation and lighting and aims to minimise its environmental impact.

The building in Munich was completed in November 2012.

Taking a look back at the construction process reveals some of its eco-friendly features.

One of the building’s energy saving secrets is hidden inside its walls.

Hubert Haupt is the owner of the building.

“We have thick exterior walls,” explained Haupt.

“So we don’t have to cool in the summertime and we don’t need to heat a lot during the winter months, which reduces the tenants’ energy expenses. We have worked intensively with simulations, especially in terms of where we placed the windows, because we wanted the energy output to be ideal, and at the same time to have enough daylight in the building. There were many details we had to consider within the broad theme of sustainability.”

Turning away from the glass-walled style of office buildings that have been popular in recent years, the windows at NuOffice are more modest in size and triple-glazed. This means cooler interiors on hot days, reducing the need for air conditioning and less heating on cooler days.

But the building’s greatest secret is found in its basement: an innovative new heating system.

The building’s engineer Romano Schillinger oversaw the progress of its construction.

“Tube loops inside the thermo active ceiling enable us to regulate the temperature inside the concrete. Heating or cooling the mass of concrete from the core results in a consistent warming or cooling of the rooms,” Schillinger said.

Additionally, the office is connected to district heating in the wintertime. In the summer, well water is used for cooling.

Electricity power is given a boost by solar panels on the roof.

Michael Krause and his team from the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics developed the energy concept.

“Now, since the building has been completed and is in operation, we can measure the energy usage and calculate the energy efficiency of the building,” said Dr Krause, the Group Manager of Building Systems and Services.

Sensors measure the temperature and air humidity both inside and outside the building. This data is used to regulate the indoor climate.

“At the end of the year we expect a primary energy consumption of about 30 kilowatt-hours per square metre, per year. Conventional new office buildings which don’t have any ambitions concerning energy savings range between 100 and 150 kilowatt-hours per square metre each year,” said Dr Krause.

And the low energy consumption of the building has other benefits too.

With local energy prices jumping by over 50 per cent in the last 10 years, green buildings are a welcome solution to rising costs.

Good for the bottom line, and the environment.

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