Hydro, Europe's leading aluminium company and owner of the global systems brand Wicona, has opened an energy-neutral building in Ulm in southern Germany, which showcases its latest technologies for more energy-efficient buildings.
About 40 percent of Europe's energy consumption is used in buildings – mainly for heating and cooling purposes – and the European Union and several national governments are calling for measures to significantly reduce power consumption from buildings to conserve energy and curb carbon emissions.
Jarand Felland, political advisor to Norway's minister of oil and energy, and Hydro President and CEO Svein Richard Brandtzæg pushed the button (pictured, right) and declared the Wicona Test Center for officially opened.
"With the opening of our Wicona Test Center in Ulm, we demonstrate that we have already bridged the technological gap between the energy-intensive buildings of today and the vision of energy-neutral buildings of tomorrow," says Brandtzæg. "We have a clear goal of enabling buildings not only to produce their own energy, but even to deliver surplus power. These buildings will be good for the environment, good for the economy, and good for the people that live and work in them."
Compared to conventional new buildings, whose energy demand is on average more than 100 KWh per square meter a year, the Wicona Test Center consumes less than 40 KWh per square meter. This energy is fully covered over the course of a year by its own power generation from solar panels and an advanced ground water heat pump system – which at certain periods even makes it a building that generates more power than it uses.
Wicona offers a wide range of aluminium-based systems, such as for windows, doors, curtain walls, facades, railing, skylight and solar systems.