Located in the heart of the Royal Docks, The Crystal is a flagship project for the regeneration of East London. It has been designed to be one of the world’s greenest buildings, achieving BREEAM Outstanding and LEED Platinum. A key requirement in the brief was to ensure the building would operate exclusively on electricity.
The Crystal was also intended to function as a hybrid corporate HQ that is open to the public as a permanent exhibition and education space, as well as serving as a workplace. The building is comprised of two distinct ‘crystals’ – respectively ‘the exhibition’ and ‘office/conference’. The ‘office’ crystal houses a 270 seat auditorium, meeting rooms, high specification office accommodation, café and restaurant. The second structure includes a large, interactive exhibition space which showcases Siemens’ sustainable technologies.
The scheme includes 160, 21m deep energy piles and an array of 38x150m deep geothermal bores to provide 100% of the building’s space heating requirements and most of its domestic hot water heat demand. Two state-of- the-art heat pumps can simultaneously provide heating and cooling. Two thirds of the roof is covered in photovoltaic panels generating 17-20 % of its electrical energy.
In addition, 17m2 of solar thermal panels provide heat to the domestic hot water system. Only 10% of the water used within the building will be sourced from the public main due to the installation of a 60,000 litre rainwater harvesting tank and black water treatment. With a strategy of highly insulated and airtight cladding, renewable energies and highly energy-efficient lighting and fittings, the building will have a low carbon footprint throughout its lifetime.
The building has been designed in order to adapt and respond as technology evolves. For example, The Crystal has the potential to interface with London’s future smart grid and the roof-mounted Photovoltaic panels can be easily changed to more efficient arrays in the future.
The sophisticated building management systems allows for ongoing post occupancy evaluation process to closely monitor and meter the building. This information will allow adjustments to be made to the building systems as required to fine tune the operation with the primary objective to utilise less energy.