A Crystal is sprouting up in East London that Siemens hopes will become the city’s newest landmark … as well as an international center...

A Crystal is sprouting up in East London that Siemens hopes will become the city’s newest landmark … as well as an international center for sustainable urban technology.

Officially named during a “topping-out” ceremony today, the £30-million Crystal is being built as part of Siemens’ sustainable cities initiative. When it opens to the public in the summer of 2012 (just in time for the 2012 Olympic Games being hosted in London), it will provide a real-life working example of some of the latest technologies available to help urban areas conserve energy, reduce waste and use natural resources more efficiently.

Those technologies will include:

  • An advanced building management system with sensors, automation and “intelligent analytics” for keeping temperatures, lighting and ventilation at maximum comfort while minimizing energy use.
  • Both natural and “smart” lighting that keeps the need for artificial lighting and lighting-related electricity consumption low, both indoors and out.
  • Low-energy ventilation that makes the most of free, natural cooling and uses a ground-source heat pump to store heat during warm weather for later use on cold days.
  • Rooftop solar panels to generate electricity and solar thermal panels for heating water. The clean energy generated will help power the building and will also be made available for recharging electric cars.
  • Rainwater harvesting and “black water” recycling to reuse water for toilet flushing and landscape watering. The building will also feature sustainable urban drainage technology to minimize discharge into the city’s sewer system.
  • External glazing and insulated roofing also keep heat in during winter and heat out during summer.
  • Water-efficient tree and plant species and a community garden designed for both cultivation and education.

In addition to serving as a visitor attraction with interactive exhibits on sustainable cities, the Crystal will host conference and education facilities, a restaurant, cafe and shop. It’s being built with office space designed to accommodate infrastructure experts, research partners, planners and academics from around the world. The goal: to promote “independent dialogue and collaboration as key components of urban innovation and the creation of successful, sustainable cities.”

“(W)e aim to develop solutions to cope with the massive growth of cities and make them livable centers of business and culture,” said Roland Busch, CEO for Siemens’ Infrastructure & Cities Sector. “The Crystal will play a vital role in these endeavors.”