This article is the seventh 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 learned a lot from reading the book, there are a lot of best practices out there that have yet to become commonplace.

Eawag Forum Chriesbach, Dubendorf

This week we will be looking at the Eawag Forum Chriesbach building in Dubendorf in Switzerland.

This building stood out for its integrated design, where a number of complementary technologies were used to create a building with outstanding levels of performance.

The building is occupied by Eawag, which is the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology. Like most of the buildings on this shortlist, sustainability and wellbeing were front and centre in the decision making process when the building was being designed.

The corridors are 3 times as wide as normal corridors and were designed as spaces where collaboration and spontaneous conversations can take place.

One of the things that I found most eye catching about the building was its façade. Even though the building is box like in nature, this is more than compensated with by the stunning façade. This shimmering aqua façade changes in appearance depending on the light conditions. Various styles were tested and the one that was chosen was selected because it optimised daylighting and thermal gain. The louvers in the façade move to follow the sun during the day and can be set to allow more sunlight in in the winter and less in in summer.

Like quite a few buildings on the shortlist, the building uses an atrium to regulate temperatures and air flow within the building. In the winter, the building uses energy to heat the offices and other permanently used rooms, but not the circulation spaces in the buffer zone. The atrium is warmed by the sun and by the areas surrounding it with no added energy. In summer, the building is cooled using night flush ventilation.

In general, there are few areas within the building that require mechanical heating. The building was designed in such a way that solar and geothermal gains and internal heating loads such as people, lighting and computers provide enough warmth for most areas.

In terms of electricity, there is a solar PV system on the roof that provides one third of the building’s electricity use, excluding that used for the computer servers.

As the institute that occupies the building is concerned with matters to do with water, there was a desire to create a building that pioneered new techniques in water efficiency. This includes water free urinals, NoMix toilets to separate waste streams. This makes treatment easier for wastewater treatment plants. Rainwater is collected from the roof to reduce potable water demand, to such an extent that it is only required for the kitchen, water fountains and hand washing. Next to the building, there is a rain garden that stores rainwater that is collected from the green roof.

I had not heard of the term rain garden before, but it looks like a really interesting feature that can help to improve biodiversity and to manage rainwater runoff from hard surfaces. I found a really good article by Eawag the occupier of the building in question, which you can find here. I also found a very informative article by the RHS, which you can find here.

Overall, in terms of performance, all of the different solutions that we have looked into allow the building to rely on an energy intensity of 98 kWh/sq m, which is very impressive. Then in terms of water, the building relies on 152 l/sq m.

What you need to know   

This article is the seventh 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 Eawag Forum Chriesbach building in Dubendorf in Switzerland.

This building makes use of a range of technologies, some commonplace, some innovative, but integrates them to create a highly successful sustainable building.

In terms of architecture, I think It is very impressive to look at, the façade in particular is extremely eye catching.

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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