© (Image courtesy Paul Andreu Architecte)

Energy efficiency in China: A fresh approach

The ultra-modern Grand Theatre in Jinan in China is an excellent advertisement for the region – not least in terms of energy efficiency. The new complex reflects the increasing significance of sustainability in China


Jinan, the capital of Shandong province in eastern China, is known for its freshwater springs. There are more than ninety of these in the metropolis with six million inhabitants. So it came as no surprise that the leading French architect Paul Andreu was inspired by this characteristic feature of the city for the design of the Jinan Grand Theatre. The complex is being built at the heart of the Cultural and Art Centre of Shangdong, covering an area of 500,000 square metres where the city meets the countryside. Its hollowed-out round shape is intended to symbolise the source of a freshwater spring. The central theatre building is surrounded by a further eight buildings of different heights which, with their soft lines and silver colour, are reminiscent of water emerging from a spring.

Sustainability is gaining in importance

The Grand Theatre is a model project of the city of Jinan. In an area of 75,000 square metres it accommodates an opera house to seat 1,800, a concert hall with room for 1,500 music-lovers and a multi-functional hall for 500 visitors as well as hotels and offices. And to ensure that the spectacular architecture is complemented by a new standard of technology, the air conditioning system in the theatre is equipped with 499 GreenTech EC-RadiPacs from ebm-papst. With a power of 1,180 kilowatts, these efficiently circulate 1,125,910 cubic metres of air per hour throughout the theatre.
“Ecological technology is becoming an increasingly important issue in China,” explains James Sun, regional sales manager at ebm-papst China. “People are starting to think differently now that they are experiencing the effects of climate change themselves and hearing more about it in the new media. What’s more, the government is implementing laws and directives to actively promote the use of efficient technologies. This is illustrated for example by subsidies for energy-saving air conditioning systems, flat screen televisions and refrigerators.”

RadiPac in action

RadiPac in action

The air conditioning system for the theatre was installed by the air handling equipment manufacturer Tsinghua Tongfang Co. ebm-papst is the ideal partner for this company dedicated to sustainability. “The Jinan city council was determined to make the theatre as perfect as possible. Which meant having to demand top quality and efficiency from the ventilation system as well. This is the domain of ebm-papst, who produce fans entirely in keeping with the current Chinese desire to build more efficiently and with the environment in mind,” explains Hou Dongming, managing director of Guangzhou Tongfang Refine Air Conditioning Co. Ltd. With the electronics and motor combined in a single unit, RadiPac fans are both space-saving and easy to install. It means that there is no need for expensive, time-consuming coordination, earthing and screening work when commissioning the air conditioning system. In other words: The plug and play principle.

Quiet-running and powerful

Economical operation and a good energy balance are not the only requirements for the fans in the Grand Theatre. They have to be powerful enough to convey the air at high pressure through the extensive air conditioning duct system whilst at the same time being easy enough to regulate to ensure the audience is never disturbed. The oblique trailing edge of the RadiPac high-performance impeller additionally guarantees an ideal air flow which, in conjunction with an integrated rotating diffuser, results in a particularly low level of noise emission. To make sure the air in the theatre is not only a pleasant temperature but also clean, Tsinghua Tofang further incorporated a virus filter into the system to eliminate any pollutants from the air drawn in from outside.

Ceremonious opening

So visitors can relax and concentrate on what’s going on the stage. After a construction period of thirty months, they will have the first opportunity to do so in October 2013 when the Jinan Grand Theatre is to be ceremoniously opened as part of the tenth China Art Festival. The festival offers an insight into the full spectrum of Chinese culture and will be presenting eleven international productions alongside fifteen Chinese performances. The attention of the region will be focused on Jinan and its new theatre. An ideal opportunity to show visitors that energy efficiency and protection of the environment already play a major role in the city of the freshwater springs.

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