In 2002, Zermatt’s lift company created a working party composed of environmental and planning firms to work out an overall plan for “Sustainable skiing areas around Zermatt” which would highlight areas of conflict between construction projects and nature. The working party’s remit has subsequently been expanded to encompass supervising environmental works, advising on all aspects of the environment, and preparing environmental reports on planning applications, etc.
In construction projects – and on average one transport installation has to be replaced each year – account is taken of ecologically valuable areas when selecting routes for lines.
Buildings that Generate More Electricity Than They Use
‘The glacier restaurant’ which was built at 3883m above Zermatt in 2008 was Europe’s first restaurant with the Minergie P Standard of environmental excellence (the highest energy standard).
The entire front of the building is equipped with 108 solar panels, which, at this altitude, generates up to 80% more energy than systems with a similar surface area in lowlands areas due to the clear air and reflection of the environment (snow). Solar energy is stored and used for heating the building, meaning no external energy supply is required.
The main façade of the building is positioned in a southerly facing direction with an angle of inclination of approximately 70°, to maximise yield. In order to further increase the energy yield, the solar façade has been equipped with rear ventilation.
The cold surrounding air is collected from the access tunnel and directed towards the facades rear ventilation system. This cools the solar façade, which has a positive effect on the device’s effectiveness whilst warming the surround air.
This warmed air is fed into the ventilation system of the restaurant and kitchen and therefore covers a part of the building’s heating energy requirements.
The total surface area of photovoltaic modules which cover 195m2 averages 35’000 kWh per annum with a power output per panel of 219 W.
The generous windows in combination with the building’s good insulation allow the use of passive solar benefits. The ventilation system recycles the solar energy hitting the façade and circulates this through the entire building. With the help of waste heat recovery methods, these thermal gains are also used to preheat the cold outside air.
The passive energy generation and the heat produced by the guests cover a large part of room heating requirements.
The remaining heating energy, which cannot be covered by either the solar façade or passive energy generation, is provided using heat pumps. The heat pumps make use of the remaining thermal capacity of the air discharged from the ventilation system. The air, which is released back into the environment, is therefore in the same condition as it was when it left the access tunnels and thus the material cycle is closed.
The electrical energy required for the building technology, i.e. the warm air pumps, ventilators, hot water pumps etc., is provided by means of the photovoltaic facility which is integrated in the façade.
The photovoltaic facility uses the existing electricity network of the mountain cableway as a repository and also feeds overproduction into this network. If the photovoltaic facility cannot produce enough electricity, on cloudy days or during the night for example, the previous overproduction, which was fed into the mountain cableway network, can be used – the annual balance has shown that the photovoltaic facility produces more energy than is used by the building technology.