This article is the fifth part of a multi-part series looking into the world’s greenest buildings. It is based off the book of the same name by Yudelson and Meyer. I thought the book was excellent and if you can get hold of a copy, it comes highly recommended from me.

Federal Environmental Agency, Dessau

This week we will be looking at the Federal Environmental Agency building in Dessau, Germany. For such an architecturally stunning building, it is a shame that it was not given a better name.

This building made the shortlist principally because of these architectural qualities, which include the main office wing being shaped like a snake shaped loop and a stunning façade. It was able to marry these qualities with good actions on sustainability.

One of the first features that stood out was the glazed sawtooth roof on the atrium. This helps to prevent heat loss from the offices in winter and assists with natural ventilation in the summer.

In addition, a 2,475 – sq-ft, 32-kWp PV system is integrated into the glazing of the sawtooth roof and provides sun protection and power for the building. An additional 4,757 sq ft of PV with 68 kWp of output was installed after the building had opened.

Other services on the roof include 2325 sq ft of vacuum-tube heat-pipe solar collectors, these help to cool parts of the building via an absorption chiller.

In terms of heating, the building is predominantly heated using a geothermal heat exchanger. This consists of 3 miles of underground pipes and was at one point the worlds largest geothermal heat exchanger. Further services include heat recovery equipment attached to the air intake and exhaust systems.

There is no air conditioning in the building, rather the building is cooled with natural ventilation with windows.  In the summer, the earth-to-air heat exchanger helps to supplement this and further cools the building.

The building experienced similar commissioning challenges with other high-performance buildings on this list. But once these were optimised, the building went on to achieve extremely high levels of performance.

The building recorded an energy performance in 2008 of 99.7 kWh / sq m, which is highly impressive for a large building with multiple uses.

What you need to know   

This article is the fifth part in a multi-part series where I am picking out my favourite buildings from Yudelson and Meyer’s book The World’s Most Sustainable Buildings.

Today was the turn of looking at the Federal Environment Agency building in Dessau, Germany.

This building stood out for its marrying of iconic architecture and energy efficiency.

Like other building owners on this list, as the environmental regulator in Germany, they likely felt under pressure to deliver a highly sustainable building that demonstrated their credentials. With this, they have achieved that goal.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think makes a building a sustainable building?

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I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

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