In early 2023, Geneva will boast an eco-district named Green Village close to the international organisations. The buildings are designed to have a carbon footprint approaching zero both during construction and when in use, as well as to offer an attractive quality of life with landscaping encouraging biodiversity. The real estate sector is demonstrating its sustainability credentials with Green Village.
The colour is the key. The Green Village project in Grand-Saconnex is green in all respects: green for its spaces, sustainable for its offices, housing, hotel, crèche and even its ecumenical chapel. Set in the gardens around the Ecumenical Centre, headquarters of the World Council of Churches (WCC), all the buildings send a message supporting sustainability both literally and figuratively. Their names pay tribute to the cities which hosted the international conferences on the struggle against climate change and greenhouse gas emissions: Stockholm, Rio, Montreal, Kyoto, Durban and Lima.
A sustainable district
With construction led by Implenia Suisse SA, Green Village is inspired by the principles of One Planet Living (OPL), created by Bioregional and WWF International. The approach is based on ten principles linked to sustainability, each one of which has performance goals which the architects, LRS architectes, Group8, dl-a, and Implenia, as developer, had to take into account from the outset. The commitment is also to log results against the performance goals, which will be subject to independent review.
Green Village is therefore at the forefront of sustainable real estate. The landowner, WCC, was ambitious enough to place the subjects of energy efficiency and sustainability at the heart of its project. The site proves that integrating a sustainable approach today is not only possible but, above all, is also indispensable for tomorrow. “If we want to differentiate ourselves from other project promoters or property developers, we have to offer a concept of sustainable construction as well as a concept of real estate development,” stated Benoît Klein, Implenia’s head of Sustainable Development for French-speaking Switzerland.
The goal of sustainable real estate
On a normal construction site the processing of materials produces emissions of greenhouse gas; at the same time up to 80% of construction waste results from excavation work, all of which has to be removed from site. On the Green Village site, Implenia Suisse SA therefore used local materials and disposal outlets whenever possible to minimise journeys. The company also used concrete aggregates from the demolition of older buildings in a loop of the circular economy to produce recycled concrete which was incorporated into the buildings’ aprons.
Along with reduction and re-utilisation, recycling is the watch word of “zero waste”, and this new version of the “three Rs” combines to form a whole which closely matches the objective of a zero carbon footprint. This is why the generation of construction waste is so closely monitored in the Grand-Saconnex eco-district. In line with current trends, alternative solutions were found to restrict waste. The challenge was also to limit the waste generated by users. Schemes were put in place to lead them in this direction.
A micro-grid to increase performance
In Green Village the energy networks will be managed using one of the very first electric solar panel micro-grids in the canton of Geneva. This novel approach enables consumers to be linked together for mutual benefit, with consumption optimised in line with solar power generation and realtime needs. The process will result in economies in terms of both finance and energy.
Benoît Klein is delighted with the principles applied: “As far as the subjects of the buildings’ energy consumption and mobility are concerned, Green Village is almost neutral.”
To be specific, the Kyoto and Montreal buildings, the first to be delivered, will be supplied by renewable energy generated on site, as will be the whole of the project. Almost 3000 m2 of photo-voltaic solar panels installed on various roofs will produce the electricity consumed on site for electro-mobility and for heating and cooling. Thanks to a pumping and recovery station, the ground water on the site will act as a low temperature network.
Filtration loops and a permanent holding pond will store rainwater. Such water can be managed in the open air to limit the amount of underground drainage construction which can consume so much energy. The water catchment area is also designed with a view to managing the water cycle after heavy rainfalls.
Soft mobility and sustainable quality of life
Traffic-free, Green Village is at the centre of a soft mobility network and therefore will have a carbon footprint approaching zero. The site includes cycle tracks and two underground car parks where most of the parking spaces have charging points for electric cars. In the future the eco-district will benefit from the extension of the “Tram des Nations” line towards Ferney-Voltaire. It will be particularly pleasant to move around in the middle of landscaped park. In the centre of the estate, the development plan also includes the preservation of the classified garden designed by the landscape architect Walter Brugger, who landscaped the grounds of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Geneva University Hospitals.
In the same way as an architectural competition was organised for the estate, the landscaping of Green Village was put out to tender. The OPL method formed an integral part of the design brief. The objective is to protect not only the environment but also the ecosystems and fauna. This is why an ecologist specialising in biodiversity was involved in the project. His task was to assist the landscape architect in identifying the areas of the site likely to harbour birds, lizards and other amphibians. It was then for the landscape architect to create interlinked alternative habitats where wildlife could develop. Those living or working at Green Village will be delighted with the sense of being out in the countryside all year round.