A university building as an eco-exhibit

It is particularly important with energy-efficient educational buildings that they transmit their functionality to both users and observers. A joint German-Polish research project is now aiming to establish exactly how a building can most effectively be turned into an ‘exhibition piece’ for sustainable construction.
“Energy, Economy, Ecology” are the three key elements of sustainability, and they give the Technical University of Breslau’s new building its name – ‘3E’. Architect Peter Kuczia has designed a 4,400 m² construction that will house lecture theatres, seminar rooms and laboratories for the environmental engineering faculty. His aim is for it to be a zero-energy building.
3E is being planned so that it can demonstrate its ecological qualities both inside and out; the whole building will serve as an exhibit. The ‘Verein für Ökologie und Umweltbildung’ (association for ecology and environmental education), in the German town of Osnabrück, will develop concepts for this over the coming years as part of a research project that has been given a 70,000-euro sponsorship by the ‘Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt’ (DBU – German environmental foundation).
“Unfortunately, technical innovations are not always visible at first glance for a building’s visitors and users. We want to see more exposure for exemplary environmental technology,” says DBU Secretary General Fritz Brickwedde. Expected to last two years, the project could make an important contribution towards making technical aspects and ecological links more transparent, accustoming people to environmentally friendly construction.
Project Leader Dorota Kuczia explains the aims of the project: “We chose the university building because there are so many different eco-measures planned there, which we can investigate for suitability as exhibits.” They also have the opportunity to play a role in the planning before construction starts, to help successfully realise the idea of an ‘eco-exhibit’. A detailed study analysed each individual technical component for its communicability, before target audiences were identified and then a didactic concept developed. As a result, a code of practice is now being planned that will give key groups such as constructors, investors, architects and planners valuable information regarding how an eco-friendly building can best be designed as an ‘accessible exhibit’ for different target audiences.

A university building as an energy machine
‘3E’ is well suited to such a research project. The project explanation from the architectural competition won by Peter Kuczia lists more or less every kind of environmentally and energy-related technology imaginable. Basis for the energy balance is the highly insulated building envelope (the heat transfer coefficient for the opaque exterior wall is 0.1 W/m²K). Heat input in the summer will be minimised by a movable shadow system with integrated photovoltaic cells.
All the technical functions of ‘3E’ will be connected via an energy management system. These include solar panels on the roof and facade, solar chimneys with small integrated wind-power units to generate electricity and two types of heat accumulators – some made from phase-change material, while others will be set in the ground and connected by downhole heat exchangers. Interior walls and ceilings will boast a concrete core cooling. The ventilated, double-shell roof will also function as a warm air collector, which will support the heating and cooling of the building. The outer layer will form a green roof and the rainwater run-off will be used to flush the toilets.
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