The Crystal, the £30m Sustainable Cities Initiative by Siemens, has opened in Newham in east London. It is is promising visitors the chance to see how cities might look in the year 2050. The plan is to show how changes made to an urban development now will help make urban living possible and bearable for generations to come.
Designed as an ‘all electric’ building, The Crystal uses solar power, ground source heat pumps and energy-efficient LED lighting. No fossil fuels are burnt in the building. Rainwater is harvested for re-use or recycling and the Crystal is ready to be connected to London’s smart grid.
The Crystal is a uniquely shaped, glass structure and covers an area of more than 6,300 square metres. It is designed to achieve top scores on the BREEAM and LEED international assessments for energy-efficient buildings.
The Crystal is the flagship of Siemens’ Infrastructure and Cities Sector. It will be home to Siemens’ global Centre of Competence Cities. A team of urban experts will work together to encourage the growth of sustainable cities through partnerships, research and collaboration on solutions.
Inside the Crystal is an exhibition on the future of cities covering 2,000 square metres. The interactive exhibition will guide visitors through the urban infrastructure of the future, focusing on possibilities for sustainable mobility, building technologies, power and water supplies, and healthcare.
The Crystal is located on the waterfront at the western end of the Royal Victoria Docks in east London, an area formerly owned by the Mayor's regeneration agency, which forms part of the Mayor's ambitious regeneration plans in east London.
The Crystal will open to the public on 29th September.
– The Mayor of London Boris Johnson
The futuristic Crystal is a fantastic new landmark for London which has breathed new life into the historic Royal Docks. Siemens' £30 million investment is a great boost to our ambitious plans to redevelop swathes of former industrial land in order to bring jobs to the capital. It continues the rebirth of east London witnessed by the world this summer and I am determined to ensure this regeneration continues apace.
But how does The Crystal compare to other green structures in London? The Angel is one such building. It is the reinvention of an early 1980s commercial block at the corner of St John Street and Pentonville Road in Islington.
It is a major refurbishment, as opposed to a new build, so by reusing the existing concrete structure it reduced the need for new materials.
The building uses a range of energy saving measures such as ‘intelligent’ lighting that responds to different levels of daylight and occupancy.
Rainwater is harvested, filtered and used for flushing toilets, window cleaning and bin washing.
The building has two biomass boilers used to produce hot water for heating and hot water.
The existing concrete frame has been reused and re-wrapped with a highly energy-efficient glazed skin.
The building’s envelope has been extended at selective points to create a better fit with the surrounding streets.
Ropemaker Place in EC2 is one of the City of London's sustainable buildings. It was designed to achieve a third less carbon emissions from its energy use than is required by building regulations.
As well as energy and water saving measures, 60% of the available space is used as a green roof and terrace. It also has a rainwater harvesting system.
Ropemaker Place was the first building in the City of London to achieve LEED Platinum pre-certification for sustainability. It also has a BREEAM Excellent sustainability rating and is designed to be 33% more energy efficient than current standards and to use 50% less mains water than the norm.
All energy for heating water and space can come from renewable resources. The biomass boiler and solar panels and the building incorporates an energy metering system and optimisation process.
– The UK Green Building Council 's Director of Policy and Communications John Alker
Put simply a green building is one that minimises its impact on the environment, while maximising benefits for the people who work in it and the community it is built in.