Crystal-colour V7.indd
The Crystal: one of the most sustainable
buildings in the world
1 | The Crystal
What is the
The Crystal is an independent global hub
for debate on sustainable urban living and
development. It hosts the world’s largest
exhibition on the future of cities and is the
first building in the world to reach both
BREEAM® Outstanding and LEED®
Platinum status. Sophisticated and
integrated active and passive design
elements make it one of the most
sustainable buildings in the world.
2 | The Crystal
An intelligent
The Crystal Building Energy Management
System is produced by Siemens and
controls all electrical and mechanical
systems in the building. Information from
an outdoor weather station supplements
over 3,500 data points within the Crystal.
Connected systems include:
Heating, air-conditioning and
ventilation systems
Weather station
Lighting controls
Ground source heat pump
Solar thermal hot water system
Black and rainwater systems
Fire alarm and evacuation systems
Photovoltaic system
3 | The Crystal
Heating and
Ground source heat pumps supply virtually
all of the building’s heating and most of
its cooling. The system works by pumping
water through a pipe that loops deep into
the ground. There are 199 pipes at the
Crystal totaling 17km in length and
reaching as deep as 150m.
Two ground source heat pumps then
create hot and chilled water and pump it
to underfloor pipes for heating or chilled
beams for cooling. Cold water is passed
through a ceiling mounted beam so when
the rising hot air reaches the chilled beam
it cools and sinks, bringing chilled air to
those below.
Energy is recovered by thermal wheels.
Outgoing air passes over a heat-absorbing
disc which then rotates into the incoming
air stream, warming the fresh air. Around
60% of outgoing heat or cooling energy is
By using 100% natural heat sources, the
Crystal receives no heating bill.
5 | The Crystal
Light and
The Crystal’s self shading facades use high
performance solar glass which allows around
70% of visible light through each window but
only about 30% of the solar energy. The glass
has three layers and an Argon cavity.
Almost every space in the building has access
to natural daylight, meaning minimal artificial
light is needed.
The lighting system in the Crystal uses a
combination of 65% fluorescent lights and
35% LED lights along with an advanced
control system produced by Siemens which
automatically adjusts every individual lamp to
provide comfortable brightness levels without
wasting electricity. Daylight and presence
detectors will dim the electric lighting or turn
it off when it is not needed.
The Crystal Building Energy Management
System senses indoor and outdoor conditions
and then controls the most suitable, energyefficient ventilation mode for each part of the
building. At moderate temperatures, natural
ventilation is used and the windows open
automatically. At low or high temperatures the
windows close and a mechanical ventilation
system takes over. Natural ventilation can also
be used during night time, reducing the
cooling demand during the following day.
6 | The Crystal
Rainwater is collected directly from the
building’s roof and stored in a 30m³
underground storage tank. Water is treated
using filtration and ultraviolet disinfection.
Blackwater receives the highest level of
treatment when it is recycled, passing through
a biological tank with two treatment zones
(anoxic and aerobic) and two filters (a
membrane filter and a long life carbon filter).
The recycled water is used for irrigation and
toilet flushing across the site. 100% of WC
flushing is taken from our non-potable sources.
Around 80% of the building’s hot water is
heated by a combination of solar thermal
water heating from the roof and ground
source heat pumps.
7 | The Crystal
The Crystal is a 100% electric building,
around 20% of which is generated by the
1580 m2 of solar photovoltaic roof panels
that cover two-thirds of the roof.
Energy use in the Crystal is monitored so
extensively that every kilowatt of
electricity used can be measured. This can
then be compared with the performance
of other buildings across the world to
ensure efficiencies are maintained.
CO2 emissions for the Siemens offices in
the Crystal are around 70% lower than in
comparable office buildings in the UK.
8 | The Crystal
Outside the
The Crystal has been built on a brownfield
site in an historically industrial area. The
ground was treated and reclaimed prior to
Hard surfaces surrounding the site are
made from durable, recycled materials. A
green roof covering the building’s energy
centre provides storm water attenuation
and a habitat for a rich variety of plant and
animal life.
There are standard electric car charging
points on site for 12 cars and one rapidcharging unit.
BREEAM is a registered trademark of BRE (the Building Research
Establishment Ltd. Community Trade Mark E5778551). The BREEAM
marks, logos and symbols are the Copyright of BRE and are
reproduced by permission.
The ‘LEED® Certification Mark’ is a registered trademark owned by the
U.S. Green Building Council® and is used with permission.
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