Letting Off [Green] Steam

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  • Design & Health
  • Energy

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NEST’s features its latest module—the Klafs saunas and spas showroom and spa.

Born of a novel research project in 2014, the NEST in Schwabish Hall, Switzerland, a region known for its engineering ingenuity—especially when it comes to water—is a lab that bridges the gap between cutting-edge construction technology in theory and practice.

Its most recent module is Klafs saunas and spas showroom and wellness spa, entirely powered by renewable energy. In this case, the company recognized that spending time in fitness clubs, equipped with mechanical machines, saunas and spas may grant health and well being to an individual, but not necessarily the environment. To mitigate the effects of resource-intensive well-being, NEST has re-engineered its fitness spa with respect to energy and water scarcity.

The facilities are warmed with a CO2 heat pump that, with the help of solar panels on the façade, is capable of heating carbon dioxide up to 130°C. Manpower is collected from training activity on the fitness machines to supply the grid for the wellness system. The red spheres that can be seen through the building’s glass façade are actually ellipsoidal-shaped test vehicles, which gauge, under realistic conditions, the energy efficiency of a normal sauna with shower option. Scientists will study what users don’t see: waste heat from their activities will be recycled in an effort to reduce energy consumption by 80%.

“The NEST is an enormous research lab where people will live and work,” says Mark Zimmerman, innovation manager supervising the solar fitness and wellness module for Eawag aquatic research at Empa Materials Science and Technology. The NEST, a showcase of technologies already available to the market, and Klafs, a company known for its Solar- Sauna, Green Sauna and Green Steam products, are joint partners in the research efforts, the results of which will test and fine-tune how well they perform. Together NEST and Klafs are also working on the development of Sanarium and TurboHeat, two more spa-related wellness devices being rapidly developed, thanks to collaboration between research labs and key players in the manufacturing industry. When this module is deemed successful, it may be replaced by a new building technology.

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