Visions become reality

Monheim: Bayer CropScience opened the first ECB in Europe next to its Group headquarters in November 2009. The company kindergarten received a prize for 'energy-optimized building' from Germany’s Economics Ministry.

Monheim: Bayer CropScience opened the first ECB in Europe next to its Group headquarters in November 2009. The company kindergarten received a prize for 'energy-optimized building' from Germany’s Economics Ministry.

The buildings of tomorrow will use a minimum of energy, and that is precisely the aim of Bayer’s EcoCommercial Building program. The program is globally oriented and can be implemented all over the world. Furthermore, worldwide demand for ecological buildings is growing constantly – especially now that they have also become economically viable.

  • Attractive new world: The futuristic ecological clean-technology cluster of ­Masdar City is taking shape about 30 kilometers from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
  • Solar cell park: It will be powered exclusively by renewable energy sources.
Attractive new world: The futuristic ecological clean-technology cluster of ­Masdar City is taking shape about 30 kilometers from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Totally ecological, futuristic, a city of tomorrow. Such descriptions may sound rather exaggerated, but they fit. When it is finished, Masdar City will seem like an inspired vision dreamed up by environmental activists. It will be the first climate-neutral city in the world, in the middle of the desert, and home to 40,000 people. It will have zero CO2 emissions, no cars and many solar-operated desalination plants. It will not, as in Abu Dhabi, be the glass facades that glisten in the sunlight but the photovoltaic units on the houses.

Sultan Al Jaber’s thoughts are firmly focused on the future: “Fossil fuels will continue to be an important basis for our economy for a few decades, but the global energy mix will change significantly.” Bayer is on board the time machine, too. A memorandum of understanding has been drawn up as tangible evidence of the company’s involvement in the project. It provides for the construction of a climate-neutral building – a prototype house built with innovative construction materials and technology, and optimally adapted to the subtropical climate. It will serve as a reference project in Masdar City for the EcoCommercial Building program (ECB).

It would be difficult to find a more prominent location for this initiative. The whole world watches the ­Arab Emirates, where the oil gushes in abundance – and where energy is constantly being wasted. This is partly due to its architecture, with buildings that can only be kept cool by continuous air-conditioning, and partly because of its gas-guzzling luxury limousines, since the price of fuel is irrelevant in Abu Dhabi. But things are set to change. According to the plans drawn up by the celebrated architect Sir Norman Foster, Masdar City, once completed, will rely on the sun instead of oil. There will be no more enormous skyscrapers symbolizing economic power. Instead, the houses will stand modestly next to one another so that as small an area as possible is exposed to the heat. Narrow streets, overhanging roofs and plenty of grassed areas will make it feel as if the air temperature is 20 °C lower. The indoor temperatures will be influenced by innovative building construction and effective insu- lation systems. Insulation is one of Bayer Material­Science’s core competencies. The company’s raw materials are used to manufacture insulating foam with a permeability of almost zero – whether its purpose is to protect against the heat or the cold.

Here you will find more information about the EcoCommercial Building Program

These insulation materials are important components of the EcoCommercial Building program. They are integrated energy and material solutions, which are taken into account in the planning phase of a building. The program is basically a box of tools containing the optimum solution for buildings all over the world. Everything is possible, from a low-energy building to a zero-emissions house. After all, buildings account for 40 percent of the total environmental burden, which is more than either traffic or industry. But we cannot get rid of cars completely, and everyone needs a roof over their head, at home and at work. “Green” ideas have often been deemed unrealistic or too expensive in the past.

The ECB program, on the other hand, combines the principle of ecological construction with economic considerations. One of the key maxims here is that environmental protection must also bring rewards for investors. The current target group includes banks, supermarket chains, hotel chains and building societies. “There is enormous potential for implementing energy-saving, climate-conserving building designs,” says Dr. Thomas Braig, ECB Manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Bayer Material­Science has now also set up a network to drive this idea forward. Architects, planners, building firms and other manufacturers are all part of the team. It has the advantage that BMS, as the producer of the raw materials, is in contact with more than just the next link in the value chain. A completely new aspect is that the wishes and needs of decision-makers will in future be taken into account at the product development stage.

  • Belgium: The Bayer office in Diegem is another example of energy-­efficient building because it consumes 40 percent less energy than comparable buildings. For this, it won the Belgian Prize for Architecture and Energy.
  • Feel-good offices: Bayer employees Michele van Hove and Sybille de Pierpont (left) in Diegem love the pleasant room climate in their building.
Belgium: The Bayer office in Diegem is another example of energy-­efficient building because it consumes 40 percent less energy than comparable buildings. For this, it won the Belgian Prize for Architecture and Energy.

Forward marketing also means cooperating with other future-­focused companies located in the regions. One such firm is Al Falah Ready Mix, a leading producer of building materials in the Middle East, which aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions in concrete production by 30 percent. The company will also use materials from other network partners: Makrolon from Bayer Sheet Europe and insulating foam from the German company Puren. “Fast, more intensive market penetration is part of the strategy,” explains ­Lisa Ketelsen, who, as Opportunity Manager, is constantly looking at how the network can be usefully extended.

One important step is the cooperation agreement just signed by Bayer MaterialScience and Züblin. Explaining the reasons for the cooperation, Jörn Beckmann, a member of the Board of Management of the international construction company, says, “Through this cooperation, we can also increase the sustainability and the value of Züblin’s turnkey buildings.”


Another partner is the “planquadrat” architects office of Elfers, Geskes and Krämer, based in Darmstadt. This group has plenty of international experience, especially in the hotter parts of the world. They have designed, for example, a skyscraper office complex in Dubai and the Business Bay Hotel. “In ­Bayer Material­Science, we have at our side a partner with an outstanding reputation that is also at the leading edge of technology in the field of insulation materials and coatings,” explains Martin Geskes, a managing partner of planquadrat.

The EcoCommercial Building program has already chalked up points with its past reference projects. In Pittsburgh in the United States, a zero-energy house has been built with eleven products and technologies supplied by Bayer Material­Science or its customers. It came about through a cooperation arrangement with students from Pennsylvania State University. The solar house combines a photovoltaic system with a green landscaped roof, which means that sunlight is converted into energy, while at the same time heat is kept away from the building.


Another showpiece project is the ­Bayer Crop­Science kindergarten at the company’s headquarters in Monheim, Germany. All the energy needed for the heating, ventilation, lighting and day-to-day operation of the building is obtained from renewable sources: namely geothermal heat and sunlight. In conjunction with an insulation concept consisting of polyurethane raw materials from Bayer Material­Science, this building achieves an emission-neutral energy balance over the course of a ­year.

Another example is the Bayer administration building in Diegem, Belgium, which received an energy efficiency award from the European Commission as a “green building.” Michele van Hove and Sybille de Pierpont, who work in the Congress Service there, love the building’s climate. “The atmosphere here is always pleasant, with no major temperature fluctuations,” says van Hove. It’s all down to a self-regulating concrete core activation system, which either heats or cools the rooms depending on the time of the year. This means there are no cold currents of air in the summer and no uneven distribution of heat in the winter. The integrated planning concept combines a number of different features – a geothermal plant with heat storage, condensing boiler heating, and efficient heat insulation of the facades, roof and floor. Rainwater is used to flush the toilets.

The ecological approach also influences normal day-to-day operations. “We use porcelain cups instead of plastic beakers,” says Sybille de Pierpont, “and only print documents when it is really necessary.” There is one thing she and her colleagues do not need to worry about: the lighting system in the rooms is fitted with movement detectors which automatically switch off the lights if somebody is away from his or her desk for longer than 15 minutes.

Interview with Jörn Beckmann, board member of the building company Züblin, Stuttgart

The construction company Züblin is an important network partner in the EcoCommercial Building program. “report” interviewed Board member Jörn Beckmann.

Jörn BeckmannZoom image
Jörn Beckmann

Who usually suggests a green building – you as the building contractor or the investor?
Usually, the clients and investors. Nowadays, a sustainability certificate is requested for nearly every new company building in Germany. Within the Strabag Group, to which our company belongs, the subject is also given high priority. All new company buildings are now planned and executed in line with the green building concept.

Which project would you highlight in particular?
We have completed a number of green buildings. We are particularly proud of the Opera Tower in Frankfurt, which won the gold “Leadership in Energy and Environment Design Award.” Another important project is our company headquarters “Z-Zwo” in Stuttgart, for which we received a silver award from the German Sustainable Building Council. In all, 20 of the buildings we have executed have been certified by this Council or are in the process of certification.

Züblin operates all over the world. Are there any countries in which interest in sustainable building is particularly high?
As far as we can tell, the greatest demand at present is in Europe, especially in Germany and the UK This is also where the awareness for green building is the most advanced. In the UK, for example, BREEAM certification for sustainable building has existed for 20 years. In Poland and southeast Europe, too, the subject is becoming increasingly important. Outside Europe, we have noticed mounting interest in green buildings, mainly in the Middle East and particularly on the Arabian Peninsula.

Traditional and modern building techniques

Desert architecture

Traditional building in Shibam, YemenZoom image
Traditional building in Shibam, Yemen

For his futuristic plans, Masdar City architect Sir Norman Foster borrowed from the old traditional buildings whose thick walls defy the enormous heat. They keep the interior cool during the day and dissipate the stored heat again at night. The windows are small to prevent hot air masses from penetrating. Inner courtyards provide ventilation and light. There are very few windows on the outside of the buildings, so they can be situated very close together. This has the advantage that the sun has only a small area of attack.

Global project

A Bayer showroom in Masdar City with Makrolon window modulesZoom image
A Bayer showroom in Masdar City with Makrolon window modules

The EcoCommercial Building program is an important part of the Bayer Climate Program. Its basic objective is to combine the best materials, systems and technologies to construct an energy-optimized building to suit the climatic conditions in a specific location. To this end, an extensive partnership network has been built up with suppliers, building companies and architects. Bayer Technology Services is also one of the partners, contributing its expertise in sustainable building. Because this is a global project, ECB Centers of Excellence have been set up in the regions Europe, Middle East and Africa, North America, China, Japan and Thailand to serve as the first point of contact for anyone interested in such a project.

Characteristics of green buildings

An EcoCommercial Building sets out to reduce the impact of the densely developed environment on human health and the natural habitat. The following features all make a contribution to this:

  • Efficient use of natural resources
  • Avoidance of waste environmentally friendly building materials
  • Local climate taken into account
  • Reduced transportation of materials
  • Environment benefits due to reduced ­emissions, noise and odors
  • Life-cycle costs are factored in
  • Health aspects
  • Public transport links
  • Efficient building management
  • Social aspects and convenience for users
  • High level of comfort
Last updated: February 11, 2015 Copyright © Bayer AG