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Conference Center Opening

An inauguration ceremony was held on June 27 by the
Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC)
to mark the official opening of its environmentally friendly conference centre
which has a target of zero annual CO2 emissions.

Built as a brownfield investment, what makes the REC Conference Center unique is the fact that it is optimally capable of operating with a long-term zero energy balance.

The project has been financed mainly by the Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea, Italy. Additional financial support was provided by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the European Economic Area (EEA) Financial Mechanism. (This investment is one of the first EEA projects to be realised with Hungary as the National Development Agency). The net value of the investment was almost EUR 2 million. The companies that provided the infrastructural and building technologies, as well as materials, also made in-kind contributions in the form of significant discounts:

  • Krüll-Ung Kft. – shades and blinds
  • Oktoklima Kft. – heat pumps and air-handling units
  • Philips Lighting – lighting system
  • Rheinzink – building envelope
  • Sanyo Hungary Kft. – solar panels
  • Sauter Automatika Kft. – building automation system

The ambitious target of zero annual average CO2 emissions is made possible by the simultaneous use of specific design techniques, automated systems and renewable sources of energy, including solar power.

Electricity for the building’s heating and cooling systems and the energy needed to operate the lighting system and other electrical equipment is provided by 140 photovoltaic solar panels with a combined nominal output of 29 kW. In the event that the electricity produced on site proves insufficient (e.g. at night or during peak hours) the system receives power from the electricity grid. In exchange, electricity is supplied to the grid during periods of surplus power production.

The heat pumps installed in the building take advantage of the relatively constant year-round temperature deep below the ground, as compared with the ground surface. This temperature difference can be converted into useable energy via 12 pipes installed in shafts drilled into the ground. The system increases the efficiency of the heating and cooling systems throughout the year. The interior air temperature is regulated by a dual system, comprising an air-circulating unit and radiant ceiling heating/cooling. The combined effect provides a very comfortable interior environment for visitors. The air flow throughout the building is automatically adjusted according to the number of people inside at any given time. These solutions are remarkably effective.

As part of the building renewal, a new building envelope was added, reducing heat loss in winter, preventing heat absorption in summer and maximising the exploitation of natural light.

A continuous glass ribbon has been installed along the upper section of the interior walls on each floor. The ribbon is positioned on a horizontal overhang extended towards the interior, which creates a “light shelf” to direct sunlight inwards. During summer months the shelf also functions as a shading device, along with moveable and fixed screens and Venetian blinds. The actual output of the light fixtures is regulated according to data collected by light sensors. This system allows for continuous adjustments, so minimising reliance on artificial lighting.

The REC – an international organisation with a mission to promote sustainable development and the protection of our environment – and its partners will make use of the new building in several ways. As well as being a conference venue, the REC Conference Center will function as a demonstration and information centre as well as a climate change resource.

The REC Conference Center was designed in Italy by Architetture Sostenibili, and the design was implemented locally by Kima Studio. The Italian project leader, Professor Federico M. Butera, believes that we already possess the technologies to slow down climate change but that technology cannot solve the problem without a change in people’s attitudes and behaviour.

It is expected to take several decades to recoup the approximately EUR 2 million invested. However, the positive effects on the environment are apparent from the day of the building’s inauguration. The two conference rooms (with a capacity of 120 and 80 people respectively) will be used to host REC events and will also be an ideal venue for events of other organisations and companies with an environmental profile or activities in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility. The building will also be open for guided tours for school groups, engineering students and other interested professionals, with the goal of promoting and supporting the proliferation of green architecture in the region.

REC is an international not-for-profit environmental protection agency based in Hungary, which operates an extensive network of regional offices, with a history going back to the time of political changes in Eastern Europe. Its main goal is to set the rapid social and economic development of the region on a solid environmentally friendly foundation by providing help and financial support to specific projects. The REC is therefore primarily a coordination hub, serving as a catalyst for positive change. Its task is continuously to update and harmonise macro- and micro-level regional strategy, and assess various local needs in terms of environmental protection projects, evaluating their quality, securing financing for them and distributing funds.

The REC is an independent international organisation established in 1990 by the European Commission, the United States of America, and the Republic of Hungary. Today, the REC is legally based on a charter signed by the governments of 29 countries and the European Commission. It has 200 employees, working in 17 countries. The headquarters are located in Szentendre, Hungary. Since 1990, the REC has completed projects with a total value of EUR 120 million, primarily in Eastern Europe, although part of its activities extend to Asia, Africa and South America.

You are kindly requested to notify GlobalPRess 2001 Kft. of the publication of this press release by sending an email to globalpress@chello.hu.

For further information please contact Mr. Zsolt Bauer, Communications Director of the REC (zsbauer@rec.org / (36-20) 560-1659.