A bioclimatic building is a type of building that is becoming increasingly common as environmental issues affect the construction sector. This is an important issue, particularly in terms of energy, since the building sector alone accounts for almost 44% of energy consumption in France.
Bioclimatic buildings have emerged in recent years to promote sustainable and energy-efficient urban planning, in parallel with the development of renewable energies. In France, the 2012 thermal regulations introduced the concept of bioclimatic building requirements for the first time.
In practice, this type of construction is based on the combined use of ecological strategies and techniques. The main objective is to save energy while providing a maximum comfortable environment for the occupants.
to be inaugurated in 2019, is a 6,400 m2 building considered to be the largest passive public building constructed in France to date. It is equipped with 2,000 m² of photovoltaic solar panels and a geothermal probe heat pump. It is a perfect example of a bioclimatic building. This is also the case for the ABC residential complex in Grenoble, which relies on solar panels, geothermal energy and rainwater recovery to be self-sufficient in water and energy.
Capitalise on the natural environment of the site to reduce energy consumption
The natural environment of the building is the first principle for designing a bioclimatic building. Capitalising on the location of a building means thinking about its potential in order to take advantage of the possibilities available on the site. In short, it means asking yourself which orientation allows you to make the most of the characteristics of the environment in terms of light, ventilation or temperature. The aim is to make the most of winter solar gain in order to limit heating consumption, while protecting against summer solar gain to avoid using air conditioning... and spending less energy.
To achieve this, it is necessary to work on the location of the building, its orientation and its architecture. This allows, for example, to favour large openings to the south and avoid those to the east and west; or to study the potential of the vegetation around the building, in order to protect from the sun or to break the winds.
Use renewable energy to power the building or even the neighbourhood
The use of renewable energy sources is the second pillar of bioclimatic building design. There are two main elements: electricity production and heat production.
As a rule, renewable electricity is generated by solar panels installed on the roofs of these buildings. IKEA's successful entry into this market a few months ago is worth noting. But there are also companies working on the design of small wind turbines adapted to urban contexts that could be used in the buildings of tomorrow. These solutions can be installed even after the building has been constructed, as part of a renovation.
As far as heating and cooling are concerned, it is generally through the installation of heat pumps that buildings gain in efficiency. But here too, there are a few alternatives: Canadian wells, or the use of surface geothermal energy. The idea is to reduce heating in winter but also to increase thermal comfort in summer while avoiding the need for air conditioning.
It should be noted that, while heat pumps are relevant to energy renovation work, the use of Canadian wells or geothermal energy requires complex studies and work. Therefore, these two solutions are more relevant and easier to implement at the design stage of the building, even if they are not incompatible with renovation work.
These buildings also incorporate rainwater recovery mechanisms, in particular to facilitate the watering of the green spaces that make up the building, in order to become part of a virtuous circle of water management.
Optimising the energy efficiency of buildings
Finally, bioclimatic buildings must be designed to maximise energy efficiency. This means prioritising the use of low-carbon and efficient insulation materials and working on processes that reduce energy consumption. This may include, for example, the use of solar shading on south-facing windows to prevent the temperature from being too high in summer while allowing light to enter the building, particularly in winter.
- The other school focuses more on passive buildings with active users by allowing the occupant to regain control over artificial light.
Buildings encouraged by new regulations
This type of construction is now encouraged by the public authorities and this is reflected both in the regulations (e.g. the RE2020) and in the labels, or in the
Bioclimatic construction is very similar to other types of ecological housing that have been emerging in recent years. This is the case of positive energy buildings, passive houses and low energy buildings. There are more and more labels that can be used to refer to them, such as the PassivHaus label, the NF HQE label or the BEPOS label.