Foto: Vojta Herout, www.nafotime.cz
Pavilion of Tropical AgriSciences
The campus of the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague has expanded with a new pavilion of tropical agrisciences. The modern premises, technology and facilities serve mainly students and employees of the Faculty of Tropical Agriculture as well as people from other departments of the university.
It was created having regard for environmental challenges so that the operation of the building would be sustainable in the future in terms of costs, as well as the impact of human activities on nature. The faculty uses heat pumps for heating, rainwater storage tanks, solar panels and has a green roof. At the same time, everything has been designed with the needs of teaching and research in mind.
The Adaptation Journey
The positive impact
The measure has multiple adaptation effects, addressing especially drought and heat waves. It uses rainwater. The internal microclimate of the building is improved by a controlled ventilation system and stylish exterior sunshields. The external microclimate, in turn, is favourably influenced by a green roof. The green roof, the courtyard with greenery and the green facade also preserve biodiversity. The installation of a green roof that people could walk on, is also planned. There are to be insect hotels, as they are not difficult to maintain, but bring a lot of benefits and are an interesting element for the practical teaching of students.
How does it work?
The building gets its energy for heating from heat pumps. The heat pump extracts energy from pillars 12-16 meters deep. These are reinforced concrete pillars, into which the pipes for the use of subsurface geothermal energy are integrated. The building is built above them. Although not originally designed for a heat pump, these pillars are used to distribute its primary circuit. However, there is also a backup gas boiler room in the building.
Rainwater is collected from the surrounding land and the roof through an infiltration system behind the building and drained into storage tanks having a volume of 60 cubic meters. If the storage tanks are full, an emergency overflow leads to an infiltration gallery, where the excess water seeps into the ground through 4 large-volume boreholes filled with coarse gravel. After being purified and mixed with tap water, the rainwater is used to flush toilets, as well as to irrigate green roofs and creepers. In the future the creepers will cover the metal structure on the south side of the building and cool the facade.
The green roof with an area of 590 square meters was created on the part of the building where it was not necessary to have technologies, such as ventilation or solar panels. The university’s own botanists take care of the green roof.
The electricity for the building is provided by a combination of solar panels and the conventional grid. The photovoltaics covers approximately 10% of the power required to operate the building.
A controlled internal ventilation system operates in the lower two floors of the building. The temperature can be set individually in each room. There are sensors there, which switch off the ventilation if a window is opened in the room. The entire fourth floor is shaded by sunshades. They prevent the interior from overheating, especially on the south side, where the sunshades are specially tilted to create shade.
Right in front of the entrance to the building is a clover meadow, which now prevents the soil from drying out. At the same time, during the construction of the building, large trees were preserved and they now provide shade and evaporate water, thus improving the microclimate of the site.
The combination of all these measures ensures lower energy consumption of the building and the sustainability of its operation and at the same time minimizes the impact of the building on the surrounding environment.
In addition, there is also a charging station for electric cars in the garage.
At the same time, everything has been designed with the needs of teaching and research in mind - for example, a diesel generator, which serves as a necessary backup source of energy for laboratories, is in the building.
There used to be a different building where the new pavilion of tropical agrisciences is now. However, it had high operating costs and did not meet the needs of the faculty. The new building has been built to fit the needs of the faculty, whilst also keeping in mind the ecological sustainability and conservation of biodiversity of the environment where it has been built.
Operation and maintenance
The operation of the building was launched at the end of September 2020. It is not yet possible to accurately quantify all its operating costs, but the measures have been applied with an emphasis on financial sustainability in the future.
Why was the measure chosen?
The measures under consideration were consulted with architects and designers and those that would help adapt to climate change while being consistent with the use of the building were selected. That is, a place for teaching, support for undergraduate students in the preparation of qualification thesis and the needs of administrative staff.
Obstacles and challenges
The biggest challenge and obstacle were the limited financial framework of the project and very demanding administration needs. Another limitation came with the covid-19 pandemic and the related restrictions, as some technologies were still being built and installed at the time.
The project was a huge challenge in how to combine the purpose of the building with modern technologies and adaptation to climate change. An important requirement was that the building should be easy to maintain, that energy and water were to be saved, and that the building provided a pleasant indoor and outdoor environment for all users.
Operation and maintenance
The building was opened at the end of September 2020. It was necessary for the staff responsible to undergo training on the functionality and management of the measures. The details are still being fine-tuned and it is too early for a more extensive evaluation. But it is already clear that the measures work.
When planning the construction of the Pavilion Tropical Agrisciences, the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and its consequences to the prompt delivery and implementation of public procurement were not anticipated. But the situation was managed.
How much did it cost?
The cost of the construction of the new pavilion is estimated to be at 374 million crowns without VAT.
Most of the funding was provided by the Operational Programme Research, Development and Education. The rest was covered by the University's own resources.
The return on investment in adaptation measures is expected to be 25 years.
The lifespan is expected to be 25 to 50 years.
The savings brought by the adaptation measures are expected to amount to half a million crowns a year.
Public buildings Use of rainwater Green roof Heat waves and thermal island Lack of water and drought Energy savings