There is an amazing building complex in Germany that is completely enclosed in glass and solar cells. The complex covers a total of 123,200 square feet. All this glass creates a pleasant “micro-climate” inside — the interior atmosphere is distinctly Mediterranean (notice the pools and deck chairs in the photos).
The solar cells integrated into the roof and walls are rated at one megawatt, which means they produce 650,000 kWh of energy per year, even under Germany’s cloudy skies. The photovoltaics actually generate twice as much power as the building needs, and the surplus energy is used in nearby homes. The complex is built on a revitalized former coal mine, and methane from the mine is used for back-up power generation.
The building’s clever design means that the cells not only generate electricity but also act as a shading system. There’s also an extensive shuttering system for ventilation control.
In the summer, louvered openings in the glass structure’s lower quadrants bring in cool air, while warm air is expelled through roof vents. In the winter, concrete and gravel floors serve as a heat sink, while heat-recovery units pull warm exhaust air from the conditioned spaces. There is no air conditioning. Rainwater collected from the roof is used to clean the roof, flush toilets and water lawns.