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The BEL Building

Posted on: 18.09.2019
by EREK News

The EREK Final Conference will be held in the BEL Building in Brussels. Aside from a conference location, this building also serves as the administrative headquarters of the Brussels Environment. One of the reasons EREK chose this building as the location for the final conference is it one of the largest passive buildings in Europe. 

Passive buildings are buildings that use up to 90% less energy for heating, due to proper isolation, triple pane glass and other measure. This reduces the ecological footprint of the building massively. For Brussels Environment, the move to this building has meant a reduction in total energy consumption of 77%. This translates to savings on the energy costs of over €241.000 per year. 

One of the tasks of the Brussels Environment is to develop sustainability guidelines for buildings, and therefore it was important for their building serve as an example. According to Aurore Brunson the building serves as an example for the city, but also for other administrations. Aurore Brunson works in the building. She is the head of the department ‘Supporting Professionals’ of the Brussels Environmental Agency. This department has services for professionals in the building sector to encourage them to use more sustainable practices and materials. She explained why the example of an energy passive building was important: “Making Brussels more Resource Efficient comes down in a large part, to making buildings more efficient. We have very little industry, so most of the energy consumption of the Region is due to buildings and transports.”

The building, designed by the Dutch architectural firm cepezed, has been nicknamed the ‘toaster’ by Belgian Newspapers, due to its shape. However, from the outside, it is not immediately clear that it is a passive building. Aurore Brunson explained that you might be able to see the solar panels that are integrated in the façade, but that they are not really visible. ‘You would have to make a game out of it.’ Even on the inside of the BEL, the passive elements are not immediately visible to the untrained eye. Take the atrium for example, that serves as the entrance of the building. It allows the sun to heat up the room, while the construction traps the heat in the building and reuses it to heat other places.

Overall Brussels Environment is happy with their new building. ‘We are proud of our passive building,’ Aurore Brunson explained before listing off benefits of the building such as the amount of light, the temperature management and the clear differentiation between areas. Though no office is perfect quirks: ‘Sometimes the blinds automatically go down when it is sunny, when we would like them to stay open.’