Constructing a better future with eco-efficient buildings

Constructing a better future with eco-efficient buildings

Eco-efficiency is designed into Airbus' new buildings at locations from the U.K. to China, with solutions that include geo-thermal systems, bio-mass powered boilers and "vegetalised roofs."

25 May 2010 Feature story

At Airbus, the range of environmentally friendly construction and power solutions available has never been wider. Its buildings from the U.K. to China are using a mixture of these and other approaches to improve their eco-efficiency and give employees optimum conditions at work.

Solutions include geo-thermal systems that utilise pipes to gather natural heat from the ground and then apply it to keep buildings at an appropriate temperature and rainwater harvesting, both of which make environmental and business sense. Equally, bio-mass powered boilers use carbon-neutral fuels, thus reducing CO2 emissions while doing the same job as conventional boilers.

Even the roof of a building can be a valuable resource when used in the right way. Skylights can have a positive impact on the need for lighting energy while photovoltaic panels can convert a significant amount of solar power when the space covered is as big as many on Airbus facilities. Plants that grow as part of “vegetalised roofs” help to keep the surface cool – an important factor, as a 1°C reduction in temperature reduces the burden on the air-conditioning system by 5 per cent.

All of these technologies are in use at Airbus, and making the right choices at the planning stage can be an important element to eco-efficiency throughout the lifecycle of a building.

“The targets of a 30 per cent reduction in energy consumption and a 50 per reduction in CO2 emissions can't be achieved by good facility management and vigilance alone,” Christophe Carré, environmental officer, commented. “Using the right technology in the right buildings and integrating energy efficiency at the inception of all Airbus processes will help us to reach our goals and create a better working environment, too.”

New buildings, such as for the A350 XWB programme, are benefiting from these techniques. The North Factory in Broughton, which is due to open in December 2010, will incorporate the most advanced technologies yet, to achieve a very high score under the demanding worldwide environmental assessment method, BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method).

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