What does an office building look like that can be operated particularly energy-efficiently and economically? What does it need to offer so that its occupants feel comfortable in it? What contribution do smart building services make to this? The Balanced Office Building (BOB) in the solar settlement of Aachen-Laurensberg is considered an international template project for sustainable commercial construction. It is the prototype for a new type of product in the construction industry: The first series model of an office building - and there are answers. Read on in this article to find out what the answers are.
© BOB-AG / Jörg Hempel; Office Building BOB.Aachen
Energy record holder thanks to innovative technology
The developers of the BOB have combined tried-and-true and innovative technologies. Geothermal energy is used in engineering technology: The Balanced Office Building is used to control the building temperature of near-surface geothermal energy. In this way, the building is heated not just without fossil fuels or nuclear energy carriers. The energy-intensive cooling occurs 100 percent regeneratively with ground cooling. Other innovative technologies that are in use are: Concrete core temperature control as well as moisture and heat recovery. The Balanced Office Building has zero emissions and is almost energy self-sufficient: With 27 kWh per m² per year or 28 cents per m² for heating, cooling, ventilation and lighting, the prototype BOB in Aachen has been holding the record as the most energy-efficient office building in Germany for ten years.
Optimal balance through BOB.i
It sounds like a science fiction-film, but it's long been an everyday reality in smart office buildings: Smart control and regulation technology. "BOB.i" combines climate data from weather forecast control and information from sensors, which is distributed throughout the building. Both are combined into intelligent instructions for building services, which thus directs the heating, cooling and ventilation. Due to this networking, BOB.i can optimize the room climate, energy and communication. BOB.i senses, measures and decides what is good for the building users – for example through smart light management with daylight-directing blinds. In addition, the Balanced Office Building never stops learning: This is ensured by regular automatic updates.
Standard product office building
The Balanced Office Building in Aachen is considered a prototype. Series production started in 2013. Because: BOB can be built anywhere. The climate-friendly overall concept can also be easily realized by medium-sized companies as well: at any location, in any size and architecture with an identical (engineering) technology basic concept. The product idea is new in the commercial construction industry. In this way, innovative technology can be offered in sustainable, high-quality office buildings at competitive prices. To date there are Balanced Office Buildings in Holland, in Dresden, Hanover and Oldenburg. More BOBs are in planning across Germany. And if it is not or cannot be a full BOB, corresponding energy designs can be used to integrate BOB elements into existing office building plans.
BOB, BIM and an office world worth living
Complex overall concepts in construction, however, cannot succeed with just the optimization of individual aspects. A view of the big picture is needed. Only in this way can the environmental and economic consequences to the follow-up cost be balanced, the energy demand, room climate and room acoustics be simulated and the potential for recycling and waste of a construction project be determined. And only in this way can an office building be optimized for the entire life cycle – such as BOB. Building Information Modeling (BIM) is the key to a holistic and cross-trade information processing in all areas – from ecology to socio-cultural factors.