The Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) has started the construction of what will be, once complete, the largest solar energy plant in the world, in the region of Ouarzazate. It is therefore no surprise that the building where the plant offices and conference centre will be located is representative of the project’s commitment to the environment and to technical excellence.
In a semi-desert zone where resources are scarce, virtuous use of these resources, in terms of water as well as energy and materials, and planning for proper management during the operational phase are essential.
The building is symbolic of Morocco’s ambitions in the field of renewable energies and features innovative architecture that provides a strong visual identity and is very much in keeping with the unique local setting.
Finally, the project is even more complex as it targets a variety of uses: research, a place for work, education, leisure and so on. These various and complementary uses are taken into account in the project via separate but connected buildings.
To comply with the site constraints, particular attention was paid to analysis of the site and to the opportunities it might offer, focusing on the Chaaba River that borders the site and provides both an important resource in terms of water and a structural element for the project. To meet the thermal excellence sought, plenty of solutions were implemented:
- Southern exposures were limited or shielded using aluminium screens
- The entire building envelope has particularly high insulating properties
- Natural and artificial lighting is optimised
- The entire building uses LEDs or compact fluorescent light bulb
- A natural heating and cooling system has been developed; a wind tower for cooling needs in the auditorium and in the spaces open to the public.
- Materials have also been very carefully chosen, with cork used for part of the insulation in the building.
- A stand-alone water sanitation system with a micro-treatment plant which uses filtering gardens has been set up.
MASEN’s Phare building in Ouarzazate is the first to be HQETM certified for buildings under Construction at the Exceptional level in Africa. This level of performance reflects MASEN’s commitment to all certification themes (Energy, Environment, Health and Comfort) as well as its ability to implement ambitious specifications without adapting the criteria. The entire project
management team naturally incorporated the environmental aspect right from the initial stages of the project, making implementation even easier.
The building has achieved a consumption level of 35 kWh/sqm/year. All energy used in the building is, of course, solar. The water collected by the treatment plant is re-used for toilet flushing and for watering the gardens.
The MASEN office building in Rabat has also undergone HQETM certification for buildings under Construction, demonstrating the agency’s global commitment to an initiative that seeks excellence for environmental aspects.