WMO

|

1993 to 1999

omm genève

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is a United Nations agency. It is a 9 storey building with an additional 5 levels of parking. Built in Geneva on an ungrateful plot of land, this building is the guardian of the soil, climate, hydrology and meteorology of the planet Earth.

The new headquarters of the WMO is definitely ecologically oriented and energy efficient. The will was to offer a satisfactory climate and comfort in any season, to spend a minimum of non-renewable energy and to use the maximum of renewable energy.

Today, ecological technical solutions can prove to be more economical and at least as comfortable as the so-called “traditional” variants. This was the challenge we faced for the new WMO headquarters in Geneva, completed in 1999. Totally glazed on all sides, this building consumes very little non-renewable energy, without its users suffering from heat or cold.

In concrete terms, the mandate entrusted to our engineering office for the HVAE (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, Electricity) part meant that the new WMO headquarters had to remain adaptable and up-to-date for at least twenty years after its commissioning. It had to lend itself to the new forms of work (digital nomadism) which imply ever greater mobility and adaptation, without heavy and costly transformations. On the other hand, its impact on the environment had to remain minimal. Finally, as the headquarters of the guardian of the world’s climate, it goes without saying that it should consume a minimum of non-renewable energy without reducing comfort. In short, the aim was to build an international energy beacon that was twenty years ahead of its time.

ERTE kept its promises and today, after more than 20 years of installation, the overall energy concept is still working.

ENERGY CONCEPT

Multifunctionality is omnipresent in the energy concept adopted by ERTE. In combination with integral planning, multifunctionality allows synergies and savings to be achieved. The most striking example is the double flow ventilation system: it combines heating, ventilation, air filtering, cooling and humidification in a single system, as opposed to the two systems used in 99% of the administrative buildings in the world.

This ventilation is almost entirely integrated into the vertical load-bearing structure, the famous sheathing slabs, and the horizontal load-bearing structure, the reinforced concrete slabs, of the building.

This has made it possible to eliminate costly false floors and ceilings and to recover the equivalent of the price of a floor, i.e. a saving of ten million francs.

This concept, which is extremely audacious, had never been realized on such a large scale in Europe. Another consequence was that the building’s very large intrinsic thermal mass could be “freed up” and “increased” to benefit the comfort of its 650 to 800 occupants, while at the same time reducing the cooling capacity for air conditioning.

The reinforced concrete slabs initially planned by the civil engineer to be 20 cm thick were sufficient for the statics of the building. ERTE requested and obtained a thickness of 27 cm, which could be used as space for the integration of the underfloor heating and cooling, but in the air, thus without any water drops, and also for the integration of the computer cabling and power supply in these reinforced concrete slabs.

This energy concept is therefore exceptionally sustainable and will live as long as the building itself: 100 years, more…?

OUR CONCLUSIONS

The tests and observations carried out have proven the feasibility and robustness of the system on a 100% glazed building, whereas this type of building usually overheats, sometimes even in winter (Winterkühfall) and has to be air-conditioned in the middle of winter when there is sunshine. Today, it can be stated that the heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems, both natural and mechanical, are working as planned, calculated and simulated with the IGLOU software.

The new WMO headquarters, which is particularly economical and low in energy consumption, was only possible because it is the result of the implementation of understood and adapted formulas and not of the systematic application of ready-made recipes. One of these recipes, which borders on the fashionable, would have consisted in realizing active cold/heat ceilings. A usual and widespread solution whose results are guaranteed, certainly, but at the price of an additional installation, in this case a separate minimalist ventilation device to bring a minimum of air to the occupants so that they do not “suffocate” in their own CO₂ emissions.

Let’s not fool ourselves: finding new solutions to achieve cheaper, less polluting and more environmentally friendly buildings requires time for in-depth and lengthy studies, especially to verify new concepts. Mistakes at this level can be costly, since in construction, the prototype is often the final building.

A second conclusion concerns the reliability of the systems: the safest systems are the so-called “passive” ones, i.e. those with few or no mechanical parts, or those with a simple structure, even if their design is recent. In other words, the more complex a mechanical system is, the less reliable it is, even if it has been tested for years. The problems encountered are usually of human origin, whether they are due to inadequate management of the installations, negligence in execution or laxity in adjustment, finishing or maintenance.

Traditional techniques are no longer competing so easily with new concepts, and if they are not yet condemned in the name of environmental protection, this will most probably be the case in the near future. Today, priority can be given to ecological and economical solutions, because these are no longer utopian. They exist, they are there, reliable, sustainable and free of uncalculated risks.

We just have to adopt them.

Experts of building techniques

Since 1984

ERTE CONSULTING ENGINEERS PLC is an engineering consultancy specialized in engineering and installation of building techniques. We plan, we calculate, we coordinate and above all we realize and optimize your installations to reach the best possible energy efficiency, in the respect of the environment.

© 2021 – ERTE CONSULTING ENGINEERS PLC   |   LEGAL NOTICES

WMO – 1993 to 1999

omm genève

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is a United Nations agency. It is a 9 storey building with an additional 5 levels of parking. Built in Geneva on an ungrateful plot of land, this building is the guardian of the soil, climate, hydrology and meteorology of the planet Earth.

The new headquarters of the WMO is definitely ecologically oriented and energy efficient. The will was to offer a satisfactory climate and comfort in any season, to spend a minimum of non-renewable energy and to use the maximum of renewable energy.

Today, ecological technical solutions can prove to be more economical and at least as comfortable as the so-called “traditional” variants. This was the challenge we faced for the new WMO headquarters in Geneva, completed in 1999. Totally glazed on all sides, this building consumes very little non-renewable energy, without its users suffering from heat or cold.

In concrete terms, the mandate entrusted to our engineering office for the HVAE (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, Electricity) part meant that the new WMO headquarters had to remain adaptable and up-to-date for at least twenty years after its commissioning. It had to lend itself to the new forms of work (digital nomadism) which imply ever greater mobility and adaptation, without heavy and costly transformations. On the other hand, its impact on the environment had to remain minimal. Finally, as the headquarters of the guardian of the world’s climate, it goes without saying that it should consume a minimum of non-renewable energy without reducing comfort. In short, the aim was to build an international energy beacon that was twenty years ahead of its time.

ERTE kept its promises and today, after more than 20 years of installation, the overall energy concept is still working.

ENERGY CONCEPT

Multifunctionality is omnipresent in the energy concept adopted by ERTE. In combination with integral planning, multifunctionality allows synergies and savings to be achieved. The most striking example is the double flow ventilation system: it combines heating, ventilation, air filtering, cooling and humidification in a single system, as opposed to the two systems used in 99% of the administrative buildings in the world.

This ventilation is almost entirely integrated into the vertical load-bearing structure, the famous sheathing slabs, and the horizontal load-bearing structure, the reinforced concrete slabs, of the building.

This has made it possible to eliminate costly false floors and ceilings and to recover the equivalent of the price of a floor, i.e. a saving of ten million francs.

This concept, which is extremely audacious, had never been realized on such a large scale in Europe. Another consequence was that the building’s very large intrinsic thermal mass could be “freed up” and “increased” to benefit the comfort of its 650 to 800 occupants, while at the same time reducing the cooling capacity for air conditioning.

The reinforced concrete slabs initially planned by the civil engineer to be 20 cm thick were sufficient for the statics of the building. ERTE requested and obtained a thickness of 27 cm, which could be used as space for the integration of the underfloor heating and cooling, but in the air, thus without any water drops, and also for the integration of the computer cabling and power supply in these reinforced concrete slabs.

This energy concept is therefore exceptionally sustainable and will live as long as the building itself: 100 years, more…?

OUR CONCLUSIONS

The tests and observations carried out have proven the feasibility and robustness of the system on a 100% glazed building, whereas this type of building usually overheats, sometimes even in winter (Winterkühfall) and has to be air-conditioned in the middle of winter when there is sunshine. Today, it can be stated that the heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems, both natural and mechanical, are working as planned, calculated and simulated with the IGLOU software.

The new WMO headquarters, which is particularly economical and low in energy consumption, was only possible because it is the result of the implementation of understood and adapted formulas and not of the systematic application of ready-made recipes. One of these recipes, which borders on the fashionable, would have consisted in realizing active cold/heat ceilings. A usual and widespread solution whose results are guaranteed, certainly, but at the price of an additional installation, in this case a separate minimalist ventilation device to bring a minimum of air to the occupants so that they do not “suffocate” in their own CO₂ emissions.

Let’s not fool ourselves: finding new solutions to achieve cheaper, less polluting and more environmentally friendly buildings requires time for in-depth and lengthy studies, especially to verify new concepts. Mistakes at this level can be costly, since in construction, the prototype is often the final building.

A second conclusion concerns the reliability of the systems: the safest systems are the so-called “passive” ones, i.e. those with few or no mechanical parts, or those with a simple structure, even if their design is recent. In other words, the more complex a mechanical system is, the less reliable it is, even if it has been tested for years. The problems encountered are usually of human origin, whether they are due to inadequate management of the installations, negligence in execution or laxity in adjustment, finishing or maintenance.

Traditional techniques are no longer competing so easily with new concepts, and if they are not yet condemned in the name of environmental protection, this will most probably be the case in the near future. Today, priority can be given to ecological and economical solutions, because these are no longer utopian. They exist, they are there, reliable, sustainable and free of uncalculated risks.

We just have to adopt them.