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And the first Italian NZEB (Nearly Zero Energy Building), "almost zero energy" building , to be inserted in a university campus, that of Bovisa, is called VeluxLab and it is a real pilot case of a very high energy efficiency building.
The scientific coordinator of the project tells us what it is, Marco Imperadori, Professor of Design and Technological Innovation of the department at the Faculty of Building Engineering-Architecture of the Politecnico di Milano and researcher in the field of building innovation and the identification of technical solutions with high energy efficiency and environmental sustainability in the BEST Department (Building Environment Science and Technology).
Currently Emperors is responsible for the unit of the Politecnico di Milano involved in the European Smart-Eco research. This research, which brings together important European institutions, aims to define the community strategies to be adopted in anticipation of the "Smart - Eco Buildings" between 2010 and 2030. He is a member of the International Scientific Committee of the Casa Clima Agency of Bolzano and of the Steel Promotion Sustainable Construction Commission. Since 1999 he has been the owner of the Atelier2 studio in Milan.
1. What is VELUXLAB?
VeluxLab is an "Active Laboratory" in which to develop research on natural light and ventilation and, in general, on energy and energy saving. At the same time, this laboratory project by now a reality allows us to monitor and test the building that will house a dozen young researchers and PhD students. In VeluxLab content and container become empathic with respect to environmental protection issues, reaffirming, in this, the importance of the way we conceive, design and construct buildings. For the first time with this laboratory, the European directive (known as 20-20-20) is anticipated, which envisages by 2020 buildings capable of saving 20% of energy, reducing greenhouse gases by 20% and use of 20% more renewable sources. VeluxLab does this and much more already in 2012 with its primary energy consumption of 3.87 KWh / mc year which correspond to Class A through the calculation with the CENED method.
2. How long and how much money to build it?
The time necessary for the transport of the three-dimensional modules and their positioning at the Bovisa Campus of the Politecnico di Milano took place on a day in August, then it took another 4 months to fine-tune and implement the necessary performance and complex stratigraphies. and innovative wireless monitoring system that will allow us to see the energy behavior of the building in real time. I'm talking about three-dimensional modules because VeluxLab is the retrofit of a concept House known as Atika, by Aparicio Ronda and Javier Aja Cantalejo, built for Velux and already assembled and disassembled several times in Bilbao in 2007, in Rome in 2008 and in Milan Fiera in 2009. The total costs are around 200 thousand euros for a space in plan that is about 100 square meters plus the external arrangements: if you think about the cost of € / square meter it is high but completely justified by the construction of a very high level system and a series of absolute innovations.
Marco Imperadori and the interior of VELUXLab
3. Is it replicable? If so, where, when and why to do it?
Technically it is certainly replicable, but I hope that its spirit will be grasped and replicated above all. When and why to do it? First of all, the European rules and laws ask us and moving first is always a good thing, moreover the market is the real driver and now every client, every user pays the same attention to the performance of his home as he does with other objects. Who would buy a new refrigerator today that was not in class A +? The same is finally true and will always be true for buildings. If there was a VeluxLab2, I would like it to be multi-storey, however, because in our case we decided to make only one floor, also for economic reasons, but the hope is to see more and more multi-storey buildings rise: offices or residences, which contain the principles, the philosophy, of Veluxlab. The choice between single or multi-storey is in fact an important variable of energy efficiency and sustainability, it concerns densification on the territory and volumetric compaction.
4. VeluxLab is described as an “active” building, what does it mean?
It is an "adaptive" building that is able to adapt to the external climate: in extreme seasons it works hermetically and with air exchange guaranteed by controlled mechanical ventilation. The system is based on an air-water heat pump capable of operating the radiant floor as a heating or cooling blade. Humidity control is guaranteed by a ventilation system. In the intermediate seasons the building, equipped with appropriate sensors with regulation / metering, instead works with natural ventilation: it is possible to make the building "breathe" depending on the external climatic conditions. The shape of VeluxLab is also designed to capture solar energy, in winter, partly also used for hot water, while in summer the south-west pinnacle allows the building to be shielded from the radiation typical of the hot season. Form and function are both linked to the climate and the path of the sun, we have not invented anything, the Lombard peasants did it who would never have dreamed of building a farmhouse with a courtyard facing north.
5. With what techniques and mathematical models will you evaluate VeluxLab's performance? Do you have expectations?
For VeluxLab a normal modeling procedure was used for the analyzes, to which we accompanied, together with the Department of Energetics, a careful analysis of the dynamic behavior of the building for the summer season with a software that allows you to model the summer problem . This will allow researchers to understand the reliability of the model and imagine possible future evolutions. VeluxLab is in fact conceived as a living and changing laboratory, able to change over time and to add components or stratigraphies in case of need.
6. How did you manage to reduce the environmental impact of the building?
VeluxLab does not yet have seven lives like cats but it already has at least four having been assembled and disassembled several times and all the material that made it up has not been thrown into landfills but is still in place. Its Embodied Energy is therefore extremely low from the start, furthermore the materials are the expression of a multiplicity of possible choices, all always very innovative, at the basis of the dry layering construction method. In fact, steps were taken to give the characteristics of NZEB (nearly zero energy building), and each choice has a reason: the external panels in recycled glass screwed to a ventilated facade supported by polyurethane panels with high thermal resistance, the "pearls" of crumbled insulation in the cavities, the wood wool-based panels to ensure a good summer thermal lag and also an additional mattress with sound-absorbing and thermal insulation function in mineral wool under the gypsum board. The same floor of the external deck is in iroko wood reused from previous installations and therefore not coming from new cuts given the particularity of this essence.
7. What research activities will be carried out within VeluxLab?
The activities range from technology and the design of components and materials to topics of energy interest, all with the aim of seeing young researchers interact so that the issues of envelope and system, also ranging on Light and Natural Ventilation, are synergistic. and conceived in the form of integrated design.
In addition to this, in the definition phase, there is the idea of product development and prototyping that can be mounted and tested directly on the building once fully operational.
The certainty is that it has created a comfortable, efficient and, why not, also beautiful and young place, as fresh as the researchers who will spend their time within its spaces. I strongly believe in the potential of architecture as a vehicle of knowledge and as an inspiration for research and new ideas. All the technology contained in VeluxLab is in fact invisible because the houses of the future must not be machines but refined high-performance objects able to reconcile the needs of man and nature.
Interview byMarta Abbà