Climate-Friendly Childcare Center in Denmark
These days the world is looking at Copenhagen Summit, its agenda and how much carbon footprint it is generating. At the same time the most climate-friendly childcare center in Denmark is being established in Hørsholm. Hørsholm is situated in the north of Copenhagen. This childcare center will be opened in November 2010. The nursery, has been commissioned by Hørsholm Council in cooperation with VKR Holding. This childcare center is designed by Christensen & Co. Architects. This center will boast of state-of-the-art facilities and will generate more energy than it consumes.
Thomas Norgaard is the project architect. He says, “It was an important part of the brief that, although extremely energy efficient, the building would also be attractive and contextual.”
The childcare center will cover an area of a 4300 square meter plot. The innovative building has been designed to reach the highest sustainable standards. The building is easy on its surroundings. The one good example is the low rise cedar-clad houses around its perimeter. They have incorporated angular roofs in their design which look quite spectacular. When you look at the roofs they give you a wave like appearance, with the south-facing pitches at a 30 degree angle and those facing north at a shallower 20 degrees. Norgaard explains the significance of the angular design, “The angular design mimics the pitched roofs of the surrounding houses, but it is also a key element in the sustainable design.”
The generous ceiling heights created by the slanting roofs serve a great purpose. They let in air to pass around the nursery’s rooms. Their roof is scattered with Velux roof lights. These roof lights perform some unique function. They are designed to automatically open and close to naturally ventilate the building. The roof lights are also instrumental in bathing nursery with natural light. Norgaard narrates about his creation, “The building is very compact and is designed as a triangle, with the two longest facades facing south east and south west. The Velfac windows along these facades, combined with the roof lights, allow more than three times as much light to enter as in a standard building.”
They have opted out for different kind of concrete for nursery’s floor and walls. What else can you expect from an environment loving architect? Their concrete material has high thermal massing and keeps on absorbing solar energy during daytime. When we begin to feel cold during late afternoon and evening, this material releases heat. Norgaard says, “Concrete does require a lot of energy to create, but its capacity to absorb heat and its durability make it a good choice over the life time of the building.” One the exterior of the building they have utilized a kind of Superwood. This Superwood is not treated with toxic chemicals. This wood is a Danish-produced timber that is created by putting high pressure on it.
The nursery has been equipped with various renewable technologies to extract less and less from Mother Nature. They have strategically placed 50 square meters of solar collectors on the roof. These solar panels will take care of the heating and hot water facilities. They have also installed 250 square meters of photovoltaic panels to produce electricity. The remaining rooftop is covered with sedum. It is a hard wearing plant, for the purpose of biodiversity. But sedum will also avoid water run-off and offer both sound and temperature insulation. Sedum will also prevent photovoltaic panels from heating. According to Norgaard, “Water evaporating from the planted roof helps to cool the panels, which work more efficiently at lower temperatures. It’s a simple, effective and attractive solution.”
This nursery is expected to produce 8 kilowatt hours per square meter per year. This figure is more than sufficient to meet the requirements of nursery. So the nursery can also sell extra power to the national grid for the sunny eight months of the year and for the four darkest months of the year, renewable energy is bought back by the nursery. Norgaard shares his ideas, “At the moment in Denmark there is only a feedback tariff for selling wind energy back to the grid, not solar energy. But hopefully in the future this will be introduced, like it has been in Germany, which will mean the building will actually make the municipality money.”