GSA Trends 2019 #1 Health and comfort: the human factor

Published by La rédaction C21

With almost 200 case studies from 36 different countries, the 2019 Green Solutions Awards provided a fine example of what is being done today to build more sustainable cities and territories. First opus of our trend analysis.

1.1. Residential: indoor air quality and thermal comfort become important

While well-being in buildings seemed to be a concept reserved for the tertiary sector, the residential sector is taking up this issue year after year. Indoor air quality and thermal comfort are taken into account in renovation or rehabilitation projects. This phenomenon is visible in collective buildings built in the 1960s and 1970s or during the 20th century, such as in the heritage renovations of longhouses such as in Lurais or in terrace houses. The particularity of this consideration lies in the adoption of simple and inexpensive solutions that correspond to often tense economic realities.

For air quality and energy efficiency, the humidity sensitive CMV with heat exchanger, remains the solution presented as optimal. However, even in exemplary homes, it is not always present. Some projects in temperate climates even revert to natural ventilation, such as the Florestine Residence. Concerning the rehabilitation of old buildings, which is a major challenge in rural and peri-urban areas, we also note the use of bio-based materials, emitting few harmful sustances, to solve the hygrometric issues source of mould. These problems are inherent to the use of ancestral building materials and mixed constructions. Here, the novelty lies in the wider dissemination of instructions for the use of biobased materials and systematic feedback on pilot buildings (cf. Lurais).

In condominiums or multi-orientated collective buildings, the other issue is thermal comfort. Often neglected through renovations that focus only on energy efficiency, it is nowadays widely taken into account to regulate temperature differences between homes. There has been a slight development in the differentiated insulation of façades according to their exposure to the sun and the appearance of sometimes rudimentary but effective systems, connected or not, to regulate heating. Above all, taking into account user feedback on thermal comfort allows organizations and condominiums to refine or adapt the heating temperature as soon as heat leaves the boiler room.

Farmhouse in Lurais

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Florestine Residence 

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La Reine's Residence: Global Renovation with Shared Roof

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1.2. Tertiary and educational building: the trend continues

As a precursor to respecting the human factor and taking into account occupancy cycles, the tertiary sector continues to offer innovative solutions. The highly technological trend of the connected building nevertheless systematically puts the user at the heart of research, with the generalization of solutions (but also of speeches) allowing the user to take control. This is a relatively complex area that requires, in particular, ensuring that the user complies with the rules of use that allow maximum comfort and energy efficiency. The best examples are the Wave building or Greenpeace's headquarters in Spain.

In educational buildings, the emphasis on directives is accompanied by an increasingly important consideration of air quality. In addition, comfort has also been taken into account over time with buildings delivered according to standards recently set by local authorities, which benefit from recent feedback. The comfort taken into account is that of all users, both school users and maintenance staff. In addition, the spaces are designed for new social or educational uses.

WAVE - VINCI Energies headquarters

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Greenpeace's Headquarters in Spain 

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1.3. Plants and logistics centers: a first

An important element of the 2019 Green Solutions Awards is the massive influx of candidates presenting factories or logistics centres. This seems to be the best evidence of the need to highlight exemplary cases to encourage the adoption of sustainable solutions in all sectors. Whether in France, Luxembourg, Sri Lanka or India, the issue is taken into account and is nowadays considered as an economic added value for landlords, but also at the time of hiring for the companies occupying the premises.

From biobased to natural ventilation to redesigned workspaces, the range of improvements is vast. Above all, they are not automatically associated with an exclusive search for labelling, as explained by the stakeholders. This is an encouraging sign for buildings that have long been considered uncomfortable and energy consuming by default.

Waste collection logistics base

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Indospace Industrial Park Vallam

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POST Luxembourg - Roost Logistics Center

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Star Innovation Center passive factory project

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Moderated by : Alexia ROBIN

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