Siemens equips Swiss smart building research facility

  • May 9, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

Swiss university ETH Zurich has opened a facility that allows research into the behaviour of building components and systems in different climate zones.

The Zero Carbon Building Systems (ZCBS) Lab is on the university campus in Zurich and comprises two floors with different test cells, climate chambers and experimentation rooms.

Siemens has equipped the research facility with digital building technologies, including for building operations and management. The technologies are part of the Siemens Xcelerator portfolio.

The lab allows experimental research and system testing to be carried out on a one-to-one scale. Research is conducted into active and passive technologies for energy supply, automation and climate control in buildings under a wide range of environmental conditions. It was established by the Chair of Architecture & Building Systems at ETH Zurich headed by Arno Schlueter, who has been working with Siemens for many years.

“Flexibly deployable digital systems and the corresponding industry expertise are essential, both in a research environment and to put research findings into practice,” said Schlueter.

The ZCBS Lab uses automation technology from Siemens. Its digital building management system Desigo CC controls and monitors all disciplines and enables efficient building operation as well as research tests that can be performed under optimal conditions.

The design of the Siemens offering allows the climate and building technology requirements to be adapted quickly and flexibly to the various research projects and the desired test parameters. Siemens’ system collects all important data generated by the installed sensors and field devices and transmits them to the higher-level ETH control system.

Matthias Rebellius, CEO of Siemens Smart Infrastructure, said: “Our building management system lays the foundation for enhancing the existing ETH systems as needed and potentially connecting them in the future to the open digital building platform Building X, which is part of the Siemens Xcelerator portfolio.”

Xcelerator is an open digital business platform, enabling users’ digital transformation in industry and infrastructure faster and at scale. Launched last year, the platform has grown and developed continuously ever since. Together with a partner ecosystem and a marketplace, Xcelerator supports companies in their digital transformation.

The ZCBS Lab is designed to be flexible not only in terms of building technology, but also in layout. Individual rooms can be connected or separated as needed. This allows comparative or isolated tests of components and building systems, for example for efficient cooling or integrated power production using solar technology.

User acceptance studies can be conducted in individual test cells.

In their experiments, researchers can independently control the entire building automation down to the field level and switch from operating mode to research mode at the push of a button.

A highlight of the facility is a room with a solar emulator. This test facility makes it possible to simulate not only temperature and humidity, but also the solar effects during the course of the day. This artificial sun is based on energy-efficient LED technology and is said to be unique in the world.

The partnership between ETH Zurich and Siemens goes back a long way. Siemens has helped provide financing for the chair in sustainable building technologies since 2009. This funding has enabled ETH Zurich to expand research and teaching in the field of sustainability and energy. In addition to sustainable and digital construction, Siemens and ETH Zurich are collaborating on research into future mobility.