Technology and Architecture

»Extremely economical and also chic: The institute building in Kaiserslautern sets standards in energy efficiency and working atmosphere« – this is how the German article in the »bild der wissenschaft plus« begins. The building in which our researchers work is unique for the following reasons:

  • Around 7,500 computer cores provide the necessary computing power.
  • Green atrias connect the four office buildings and create a light-flooded working environment.
  • With a maximum waste heat output of 320 kW from the server rooms, we create a feel-good climate for 22 tropical plant species in the atria, especially in winter. Even if the temperature outside is minus 20 degrees Celsius, it is still 17 degrees Celsius in the atrium. On normal winter days it even happens that employees open the windows to the atriums to warm up the offices.
  • Each office is supplied with 40 cubic metres of fresh air per hour. The air flows through an earth canal, which preheats it in winter and cools it in summer.
  • Two combined heat and power plants work day and night in the basement: they produce a large part of the electricity generated in the Fraunhofer ITWM. In 2017 the plant supplied 1.6 million kilowatt hours of electricity and 2.7 million kilowatt hours of heat. In the summer months, the heat is used to generate cold using absorption processes.
  • The two small power plants are supported by a 150 kilowatt vacuum solar tube system on the roof.
  • With a technique called free cooling (cooling without any significant expenditure on additional energy) and a 600 cubic metre water storage tank the temperature of the air in the institute is decreasing.
  • Creativity also needs movement: At the Fraunhofer ITWM we create this with a fitness room, beach volleyball, table tennis, table football and yoga; we also participate in local Bike-Sharing.


Is It Worth the Effort?

When the building was designed in the early 2000s, normal technical equipment was calculated for the building budget. Therefore, the additional costs had to be covered by lower energy costs and the omission of other technology such as thermal insulation or radiators. This succeeded! With 50 kilowatt hours of heat per heated square metre, the institute is very energy-efficient. With total CO2 emissions for electricity, gas and district heating of 1,000 tonnes in 2017, it is also climate-friendly.