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Solaris Uses BIPVs and Passive Design

Credits: ©2010 Solaris

Located on the green belt in Brussels, the Solaris office building is centered around two third-level atriums, and draws on two green energy sources: the sun and geothermal. Photovoltaic panels placed on the roof and façades gather solar energy for electricity. In addition, Solaris uses passive design. The building is cooled or heated using geothermal exchange – a series of tubes are buried in the ground which transfer energy into the building through a radiant ceiling system. Solaris was the first building in Belgium to receive a Valaideo certificate, the Belgian certification system for sustainable construction. It also won an Eco-Building Award in 2009. Solaris is a 13,700 square metre, eight-story office building in Brussels, Belgium, along the Avenue Louise showcasing a new generation of sustainable building. It consumes less energy than typical, similar European office buildings thanks to its structure and energy saving technologies. On-site renewables meet one-fifth of the building's total energy needs, with a photovoltaic system providing 60,000 kWh per year, or one-tenth of total electricity needs. A geothermal system supplies about a third of the necessary heating and cooling. Energy for lighting is one-fifth below average. The building also collects rainwater and emits 120 tons of CO2 less per year than usual. Solaris uses an aluminum curtain wall system, with south-facing windows that incorporate building-integrated photovoltaic cells (BIPVs). The faceted façade also provides thermal insulation qualities that facilitate its design and construction as a passive building. The system helps the building realize 50 percent less energy consumption than an equivalent office block built following a traditional design and construction process. (Scroll to bottom for additional resources)


Solaris Brussels BIPVs 2

The Solaris in Brussels, Belgium, have on-site renewables that meet a fifth of the building's total energy needs, with a photovoltaic system providing 60,000 kWh per year, or a tenth of total electricity needs. ©2010 Herpain Urbis

Solar Energy
Photovoltaic panels allow for the collection of solar energy and its conversion into electricity. Working from a site facing fully south, the architects designed a curtain wall façade fitted with photovoltaic solar panels covering a surface of approximately 300m2. On the flat roofing, additional photovoltaic panels increase the possibility for harnessing sunlight, bringing the size of the total system to around 800m2. The aim of these solar panels is twofold; to directly convert solar energy into electricity and to ensure the best-possible screening on the façade with an ensuing reduction of the thermal load within the building. The photovoltaic systems ensure a total generation of 10 percent of the building’s electricity needs.

Geothermal Energy
A geothermal exchange using 50 probes at a depth of 100m, and linked to a heat pump, allows for superior energy performance, both in terms of heating and air-conditioning. The system works by exchanging calories with the water table, thus allowing the building to operate with cold water in the winter and with hot water in the summer. A condensation boiler and cooling unit complete the picture during the extreme winter and summer periods. The radiant ceilings are used for hot and cold air emissions, in addition to the air pumped out by the high-performance mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery from the exhaust air.

Reduction in Energy Consumption
By reducing the heating and cooling needs, geothermal and photovoltaic techniques implemented in Solaris allow for an approximate reduction of 50 percent in the building’s primary energy consumption in comparison to a conventional HVAC installation. This reduction in energy consumption in turn allows for an annual reduction of 120 tonnes in CO2 emissions, i.e. 15 to 20 percent of the building’s CO2 emissions, which represents approximately 40 to 50 percent of the average emissions of office buildings in the Brussels’ region. Rainwater is gathered and used for sanitary requirements and the internal and external maintenance of the building. The lighting of the office areas is provided through high-performance, low-luminance light fixtures (electronic ballasts).

The building is rated K39, a record for an office block put on the market by a developer. In addition, Solaris is equipped with a series of technologies that make it possible to limit energy consumption: super-insulating double gazing with a rating of 1.1, a centralized technical management system, and automated control of high-efficiency lighting. Solaris has a BEP (Building Energy Performance) (E) rating of 74 and a thermal insulation level (K) of 38, compared to 90 and 45 required respectively for Brussels' offices today (90 will become 75 in 2011).


  Solaris Valideo Certificate and Score (1,317 kb)

  Solaris Valideo Fact Sheet (French) (1,975 kb)

  Solaris Brussels Floor Plans (9 Pages) (17,809 kb)


Valideo Sustainable Certification Program (Belgium)

Assar Architects (Belgium)