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MINERGIE-P® at the summit


Certificate presentation and launch of the MINERGIE®-CHARTA
On 21 April the "Matterhorn glacier paradise" tourist centre on the Klein Matterhorn (Little Matterhorn) was officially awarded the MINERGIE-P® certificate. At 3,883 m.a.s.l. State Councillor Thomas Burgener, head of the Department for Health, Social Services and Energy in the canton of Valais, presented Zermatt Bergbahnen AG with the coveted certificate. 

In addition, the MINERGIE® CHARTA was launched, which aims to strengthen the most important basic principles of future construction and implement them worldwide.
The “Matterhorn glacier paradise” tourist centre on the Klein Matterhorn (Little Matterhorn) above Zermatt lies at 3,883 metres above sea level and is the highest viewpoint in Europe that can be reached by cable car. The location boasts a breathtaking view, overlooking numerous peaks reaching over 4,000 m, and is a magnet for mountain enthusiasts from all over the world as well as a popular starting point for mountain and skiing excursions. More than half a million people visit the summit every year. Until recently, visitors expected only basic facilities and rudimentary sanitation systems. But since December 2008, Zermatt Bergbahnen AG has been able to offer its guests attractive, modern facilities. They can now stop for a bite to eat in the new restaurant or spend the night in the mountaineers’ accommodation. Given the location, the most crucial criteria for developers were the project's environmental credentials, its energy efficiency and the comfort of the guests. And for this very reason the tourist centre has been awarded the MINERGIE-P® certificate, making it the highest located building to achieve this standard. 

A high level of comfort at 3,883 m.a.s.l. 
The building has been constructed using pre-fabricated wooden elements, only the base was made of concrete for structural reasons. The outer walls are insulated with 52 cm of rock wool, providing a high level of comfort in the interior. The narrow, continuous ribbon windows frame the view and limit the amount of daylight - which at this location is extremely high – entering the interior. In order to reach the thickness of the façade required for the MINERGIE- P® standard, given the wind speeds of up to 300 km/h, the wooden construction is clad in metal and glass. Low outside temperatures of down to minus 30 °C and the risk of overheating due to intense solar radiation were the biggest challenges. 

Use of solar energy 
In this high alpine location use of solar energy is a must. For this reason the entire southern façade consists of integrated photovoltaic panels. Thanks to the consistently south-facing direction and an incline of around 70 degrees the system produces an above-average yield. Also, thanks to the clear air and radiation reflected from the surrounding area, solar installations in high alpine areas are up to 80 percent more productive than comparable systems at lower altitudes. The photovoltaic system provides all the electrical energy needed for heating and ventilation. Any excess produced is fed into the electricity network of Zermatt Bergbahnen AG and used when needed. At the same time the façade functions as a thermal air collector: Cold air from the outside is heated behind the photovoltaic cells and then used to preheat the air flowing into the restaurant and rooms – this reduces the heating energy requirement. It also produces a cooling effect, which increases the efficiency of the solar cells.
Integrated water treatment system 
The enormous windows and the excellent heat insulation mean great benefit is reaped passively from the solar energy. The ventilation systems distribute heat gained this way throughout the building. Together with the waste heat from the guests, this alone is almost enough to create a comfortable environment. When it is not sufficient, two heat pumps assist. In this process, they make use of the outgoing air from the ventilation systems. The effort and cost involved in transporting drinking water to almost 4,000 metres above sea level mean this resource must be used carefully. Waste water from the kitchen and bathroom units is therefore collected, purified in a microbiological water treatment system and then used for toilet flushing. Unused water, once purified, flows into the natural water cycle of the surroundings. Waste from the water treatment system is taken to Zermatt’s water treatment plant by cable car. 

Certificate presentation and launch of the MINERGIE® CHARTA 
At a celebratory function, State Councillor Thomas Burgener, head of the Department for Health, Social Services and Energy in the canton of Valais, presented the MINERGIE-P® certificate to Christen Baumann, CEO of Zermatt Bergbahnen AG. The function also saw the official launch of the MINERGIE® CHARTA. This aims to strengthen the most important basic principles of future construction and implement them worldwide. “In Switzerland and throughout the world knowledge about sustainable construction is spreading too slowly. The MINERGIE® CHARTA aims to strengthen the most important basic principles of future construction“, explained Dr. Ruedi Kriesi, MINERGIE® Vice President. MINERGIE® buildings fulfil requirements for comfort and wellbeing and make commercial sense. They give users of the buildings the opportunity to live and work in a way that is compatible with the future.

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