A building demonstrates perfectly how to use energy

So the recommendations made in the Grenelle environmental agreements are already outdated, are they? Far from it – as a positive-energy office block, Solaris has managed to surpass the recommended levels for low-energy buildings. It’s built on a north-south axis, with reinforced insulation, smart lighting and temperature control, night-time ventilation, solar panels on the roof and even a geothermal generator. With these features, this 31,000 m2 building in Clamart (Hauts-de-Seine) has everything it needs to produce more energy than it consumes.More than 4,000 m2 of photovoltaic panels installed on the roofMaintenance-free for the next 15 yearsTo create such a building, the developer and the architects began by looking at how to control energy consumption. They started with the lighting, which is particularly energy-intensive, accounting for 40 per cent of electricity usage in offices on average. Controlled by sensors installed at workstation level, LED lights, fitted with sunlight detectors, adjust according to the level of outside light. Light levels vary depending on the time of day, but also depending on the number of people working in the office – the energy saved is a massive 80 per cent. The building, which the developers claim will be maintenance-free for the next 15 years, has light-reflective panels fitted on the north-facing façades, while exterior blinds have been installed on the sides facing south-west and east, and sun shades on the side facing south. This avoids any unnecessary use of air conditioning or heating. So, while office blocks in France now consume four times the amount of electricity from 20 years ago, this building paves the way for greater energy efficiency in future.The 1,000 m2 covered garden was also installed to reduce energy consumption. Heating or cooling it depending on the time of year is simply out of the question, as it’s covered in a transparent Texlon sheet, containing air bubbles that regulate the temperature and ensure the perfect light filtration.Not only does the building consume less energy; it actually produces energy. That’s because 4,233 m2 of photovoltaic panels have been installed on the roof. Meanwhile, 100 metres below ground in the basement, there are 120 geothermal probes. In winter, these pump the heat of the earth into the building, and in summer, they serve to cool the offices by circulating water from the basement at a temperature of 13°C. So with a touch of solar technology here and geothermal technology there, the Solaris can cover all of its energy needs. What’s more, this technology means that the building leaves an impressively small carbon footprint, producing less than 320 tonnes of CO2 per yearTo go furtherSun-reflecting panels may replace air conditioning

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