AGC Glass Europe has inaugurated its new headquarters, the AGC Glass Building, a nearly zero-energy building located at Louvain-la-Neuve, 25km to the south of Brussels.

With a capacity of more than 500 people, the AGC Glass Building now houses all the group’s management and administrative services which were previously scattered across various parts of the country.

With a BREEAM certification rating of ‘excellent’ in the design stage, the building has a practically neutral energy balance.

The limited energy requirements for heating, cooling and artificial lighting are almost entirely offset by the electricity produced by 900 solar panels on the roof and heat drawn from ground heat pumps.

In his inaugural address, Jean-François Heris, CEO of AGC Glass Europe and President of the Walloon Business Federation, welcomed the choice of advanced glass solutions (more than 13,000 m² of AGC glass) which played a crucial role in creating a sustainable, innovative headquarters.

Professor David Strong, author of a study of the benefits of natural light for the occupants of buildings added: “This building is designed so that all its occupants are seated close to the large glazed bays that offer a very high quality of natural light.

“As such, it is an outstanding example of the new generation of sustainable buildings which pay more attention to the wellbeing of the occupants.”

The building, which stands on stilts above the ground-floor car park, has a double outside skin of glass.

The first skin (on the inside) consists of double glazing in extra-clear glass with super-insulating and solar control coatings.

The second skin (on the outside) is unique because it is dynamic, made up of movable louvres of screen-printed glass with alternating white stripes on either side.

The louvres automatically follow the movement of the sun to let in the maximum amount of natural light while protecting the people inside from glare and excess heat.

Inside the building has offices, a conference centre, a dining area, patios and gardens spread over two floors. A gallery that also incorporates an auditorium spreads across the width of the building.

The AGC Glass Building was designed by Samyn & Partners and BEAI architectural firms, and built by the general contractor Van Roey. It was financed by Axa Belgium which has leased it to AGC for a period of 15 years.