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A building ahead of its time

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Architect Romi Khosla design for the Volvo-Eicher headquarters building in Gurgaon created a comfortable, healthy and productive environment to enhance work life quality. It also minimizes the 9,972sqm building’s impact on the environment — while providing client savings in annual operational costs. At the centre of this LEED Platinum – New Construction certified building is a 35-tonne suspended spiral staircase that heads right up to the sixth floor for occupants interested in getting some exercise in the middle of the day.

The design incorporates a highperformance building envelope that also features recycled material such as used wood from railway sleepers. The building’s louvers, which act as blinds, are strung outside the glass walls of the office and have been painstakingly calibrated after a detailed solar ingress analysis.

The architects and engineers studied the building’s orientation, latitude and longitude and the angles at which sunlight reaches it. The ‘blinds’ were calibrated to minimize the direct inflow of harsh sunlight and control the amount of sunlight filtering into the building to reduce the energy strain on the air-conditioning system..

Green Interiors

Interior spaces has no false ceilings as the air-conditioning ducts are on the floor. With no false ceilings, there are several wooden discs suspended in the air. The wood for discs and for much of the building’s furniture is from pinewood recycled from crates in which the assembling units of Volvo trucks travel to India all the way from Sweden. The glass windows are a special type of glass manufactured by Saint Gobain. It is insulated and double-glazed, allowing glare-free light but not heat into the building. Two dozen varieties of indigenous plants – both flowering and non-flowering trees, shrubs, indoor plants and more – have been planted in and around steel frames that support the louvers which are covered with wood recycled from railway sleepers courtesy of Indian Railways.

Energy Reduction

The use of advanced operational and passive design strategies for indoor thermal comfort and ventilation strategies together with building integrated sensors, efficient artificial lighting as well as intelligent day-light controls optimizes operational energy consumption. The HVAC includes under-floor air conditioning allowing workers to adjust airflow at the desk level according to personal comfort needs. This is an alternative to air conditioning being located in ceiling spaces, which would require continuous cooling of naturally rising hot air. By reversing the air flow, alternative method allows cold air to reach workers directly and more efficiently by targeting the space between average sitting and standing height.

Energy reduction methods include heat recovery unit for the air-conditioning where the rotating “heat wheel” is chilled by cooled air and as dry exhaust air from service areas is directed into one side of the wheel. The latter rotates into the incoming fresh air stream, causing much of the heat to be absorbed before the air is mechanically cooled. This process decreases air-conditioning load by up to 80 percent — saving energy and reducing the required size of the air conditioning equipment.

Intelligent Automation

In addition, the integrated building management system employs automated controls for power, air-conditioning & water; elevator controls; fire-detection systems & alarms and regulated features such as perimeter control, access control & electronic surveillance. The building has a specially-designed sewage treatment plant that recycles water for use in the HVAC cooling towers, landscape irrigation, washing cars and flushing. It has the capacity to treat 50,000 litres of waste. On average, it converts 30,000 litres of wastewater into usable water every day.

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