Zollverein School

Location: Essen, BRD
Design: SANAA
Year: 2008

Mining Energy

Three steps are described by the so called 'Energy triad'. The first step is to decrease the use of energy. Secondly, the energy that is still needed must come from sustainable sources of energy. Finally, when the first two steps aren't sufficient, the percentage of energy that comes from fossil sources must be used efficiently. The design of the Zollverein school of management and design skips the first step. A renewable source of energy, geothermic energy is squandered within this building. Why would people save energy when a surplus of renewable resource is available?

The area that surrounds the Zollverein is filled with old mining pits. To preserve these pits against flooding the 'Deutsche Steinkohle AG' is continually occupied with pumping the mines dry. This mining water, with a temperature of 29 degrees Celsius, was normally drained off by the river Emsch. This was bad for the ecology of this river, but also, lots of free energy was wasted. Since 2008 this energy is used for heating and cooling the Zollverein school. Above groundlevel, a heat pump exchanges heat from the mining water into water that heats the building. This water is distributed through the building by a narrow tube system that has been conditioned in the facades and floors. This tube system functions as veins in a human body, laying closer towards each other near openings and windows. The system is also used for cooling. The facades aren't isolated, due to the fact that this surplus of energy can be used. This sort of cooling and heating systems is also called 'active isolation'. Sustainable sources of energy like wind, energy due to tides and the sun are called 'indefinite' sources. Geothermic energy however is, from a human timescale perspective, a definite source. After all, the earth will cool down through time due to the fact that heat is extorted from the earth. Afterwards it will take time before the temperature of the subsoil is stabilized and until then, this energy source won't be available.






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