Foto: Vojta Herout, www.vojtaherout.com
Reconstruction and opening of the SVATOPETRSKA complex
The SVATOPETRSKA complex is no longer an old unused brownfield full of high-energy demanding buildings, as it was three years ago. Now, there is a passive building using a smart energy concept and a number of environmental and economic measures, such as ground pipes with heat pumps, solar panels, air recuperation and other smaller technological solutions to save energy. They use groundwater from a well to flush toilets. They accumulate rainwater in a retention tank and use it to irrigate the greenery, or let it soak into swales and underground infiltration baskets. The area around the building is lined with infiltrating concrete and tiles. There is also an extensive green roof and creeping plants on the walls.
A cycle path crosses the complex and is right next to the revived Stará Ponávka river, an ideal space for relaxation and informal meetings contributing to the favourable climate of the complex.
The Adaptation Journey
The positive impact
The main goal of the reconstruction of the SVATOPETRSKA complex in Brno-Komárov was raising it to a passive standard and opening it to the public for it to become part of the city and an attractive destination not only for companies operating there but also for visitors from the neighbouring housing estate. The investors thought of the overall sustainability of the building, which has a positive effect not only on the climate of the place, but also works well from an economic point of view. The initial investment increased significantly due to sustainable construction, but the cost of maintenance decreased significantly. This will result in an early return on costs. The economic return of sustainable measures will contribute financially to the planned reconstruction of the remaining buildings of the now open area.
How does it work?
Where there used to be an inaccessible brownfield in Brno-Komárov, there is a passive building now two floors higher than before with offices, warehouses and apartments. It covers an area of 6,500 square meters. The whole complex is open to the public. A restaurant has been established on the ground floor and visitors enjoy large green areas around the building and the Stará Ponávka river.
The extensive green roof captures and slows down the outflow of rainwater from the roof. Excess rainwater, which drains from the roofs, up to 22 cubic meters of water is then stored in a retention tank and used to water green areas in the complex. Paved areas around the building are made of water-permeable concrete and interlocking paving and parking is made of infiltration tiles. They allow water to seep into the soil. There are also grassy swales around the new building allowing the rainwater more time to soak. Thanks to the use of water from the well for flushing toilets, investors will save up to 400 cubic meters of drinking water a year, which is 50% of the water consumption of the complex.
Fighting the urban heat island
The new building with its green roof and solar power plant fights the urban heat island. The surface of solar panels usually has a lower temperature than a comparable surface made of concrete or roof tiles or metal sheets. The green roof gradually evaporates water which helps reduce the surface and surrounding temperatures. Instead of electric air conditioners, the building is cooled down by ceiling beams connected to heat pumps, which, unlike air conditioners, do not return heat to the air. Good insulation of the building, especially in spring and autumn means heating is not needed that much. The Ponávka river and the surrounding greenery also contribute to lowering the temperature in the area.
Smart Energy Concept
The operation of the new building achieves a neutral carbon balance. The building is very well insulated, it has quality windows with triple glazing shaded by external blinds, so they do not leak heat, nor do they overheat in summer. All permanent workplaces have natural daylight.
There are 43 underground pipes with heat pumps for heating and cooling of the complex, a roof solar system with an output of 76 kWp and air recuperation. There is a number of hi-tech solutions for energy savings, such as LED lighting, intelligent consumption and air exchange management and blinds setting.
The complex at Svatopetrská 7 in Brno-Komárov was built in the 1970s for the State Research Institute of Materials (SVUM) and as a research centre for the foundry industry. From the 1990s until extensive reconstruction in 2017-2019, the complex served in its original condition for individual tenants for offices, warehouses and production.
The whole complex was fenced and completely inaccessible to the public.
Operation and maintenance
Annual service inspections are necessary for the technical measures. Their expected life is roughly twice the the time they will pay themselves back. It will be possible to provide more detailed information after at least 1 year of normal operation of the building.
Why was the measure chosen?
The investor considered a cheaper option of the reconstruction with minimal layout changes and minimal exterior modifications. The project began with a large study of possible measures, where the investor realized that a cheap solution will not make the premises different enough from hundreds of other properties and will not create a unique environment that tenants will be interested in. At the same time, when researching the possibilities of grants, it turned out that the originally expensive technologies provide an interesting economic result after reducing the original price by a subsidy, and they bring independence from central sources as well.
Obstacles and challenges
One of the challenges was securing a loan. The banks considered the project to be oversized and compared its future price with the output of the 'cheap' reconstruction.
Another of the challenges was to convert the project from its digital form to a real building. What is easy to design is still difficult to grasp for most construction companies. For a renovation, a number of tailor-made solutions are created, which must be captured in the project of the actual implementation in detail.
Operation and maintenance
When operating such a building it is necessary to teach the tenants to use the technologies.
How much did it cost?
The total cost of the project was CZK 211,000,000 (7,985,313 EUR). In addition to the own resources of the investors - Top-In and the Veronica Foundation, and the loan, the project was co-funded by the European Union from OPPIK funds (Operational Program Enterprise and Innovation for Competitiveness).
Top-In estimates the expected return on the total investment at 12 years and the return of the solar power plant at 4-5 years. The lifespan of the complex is estimated at 40 years.
Thanks to the implemented measures, the expected savings are about CZK 11 million (416,296 EUR).
Administrative buildings Production area Use of rainwater Heating Zelená střecha Nedostatek vody a sucho Zelená energie Úspory energie