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Technological advances have transformed buildings into intelligent objects. Connected platforms and sensors are making it possible to optimise energy consumption. One VINCI Energies Belgium operations headquarters clearly illustrates these transformations.

What do a network-connected solar panel array, heat pump, cooling unit, thermostat and water heater have in common? Their capacity to make a building “smart”. These distributed energy resources (DER) now allow two-way interaction between buildings and the energy distribution network, but above all, make it possible to better control their production and consumption of energy.

According to a recent Guidehouse Insights report, the number of buildings connected to a smart grid, generating solar electricity and equipped with battery storage is set to rise from 67.9 million in 2022 to 202.5 million worldwide by 2031, an annual growth rate of 12.9%.

A showcase for VINCI Energies expertise

VINCI Energies Belgium is fully committed to this change and has made its new operational headquarters for Wallonia, which opened in Gosselies in September 2021, a showcase for its energy performance expertise in every business area. “We called on all the building-related technical expertise within VINCI Energies Building Solutions’ skillset,” says Benoît Gouverneur, Business Development Manager at Cegelec Belgium.

IZEN installed the site’s 792 solar panels with a combined capacity of 350 kWp; VINCI Facilities handled interior layout and maintenance; Axians managed IT infrastructure and audiovisual equipment in meeting rooms; Actemium installed mechanical protection features in the storage facility; TranzCom installed the VOIP system; and Omexom did all the medium-voltage electrical work, while Cegelec took on all the technical aspects (HVAC, electrical engineering, plumbing, fire protection system, etc.) and installation of the 28 charging points for the business unit’s electric vehicles. “We plan to significantly advance the electrification of our vehicle fleet by 2030,” says Benoît Gouverneur, adding that in two or three years, on-site parking facilities should be equipped with solar canopies and a battery storage system for the electricity generated on site.

“The emulation and synergy between VINCI Energies Belgium business units really gave the project a boost.”

The objective for 2025 is 100% electrically powered heat production. The first few months of operation showed that the Gosselies site was running at 45% self-consumption. The installed heat pump will save 16.5 tonnes of CO2 annually, and a rainwater recovery system will supply all toilet facilities.

Emulation and synergy

The finishing touch is the implementation of the WAVE platform (like the one created for the VINCI Energies offices in Lille). Developed by Smart Building Energies (VINCI Energies France) and installed in collaboration with teams from Cegelec and VINCI Facilities, this connected platform can manage energy, comfort and services within the building.

In “monitoring” mode, it allows storage and analysis of various data, but more importantly, it can optimise the building’s energy efficiency thanks to 1,300 sensors distributed across the site. Smart detectors allow temperature, lighting and ventilation to be adjusted according to occupancy.

Benoît Gouverneur underlines the building’s remarkable energy performance.” He explains that “Essentially, it is fitted with large bay windows with an ultra-efficient solar heat factor that reduces energy consumption related in part to overheating in summer.”

He believes that the overall quality of the Gosselies building owes a great deal to the fact that the project was executed by various VINCI Energies Belgium business units from start to finish: “The emulation and synergy between entities working together to build their own workplace really gave the project a boost, offered greater agility, and ultimately allowed completion of the project in record time: after the structural work, it only took six months to complete the technical works.” The 9,200 sq. metre Gosselies site can now accommodate up to 350 employees from nine different VINCI Energies Belgium business units.