On April 13, 2021, we inaugurated one of Switzerland’s first office buildings which is carbon-neutral in its operations. The new Sonova Wireless Competence Center in Murten, home to subsidiary Phonak Communications AG, accommodates around 180 employees entrusted with developing and marketing miniaturized communication and hearing protection systems. The pioneering architecture of the zero-energy building will provide our employees with a modern and inspiring workplace.
The innovative building aligns with our sustainability program, whose goals include a continuous reduction of the company’s environmental impact. The entire Sonova Group aims to achieve carbon-neutral operations by the end of 2021.
The Sonova Wireless Competence Center operates carbon-neutrally and adapts to the outside climate, requiring hardly any building services installations such as heating or ventilation systems. The new office has been designed down to the last detail for minimal energy consumption. It was built using mainly renewable and reusable materials, so that construction-related gray energy could be minimized. Made of a single wythe of climate-neutrally manufactured blocks, the solid façade retains energy and moisture. The building largely regulates itself by absorbing heat and releasing it again when it gets colder outside.
The healthy indoor climate is primarily the result of controlled natural ventilation; pure lime putty on the walls and ceilings purifies the air indoors and regulates the atmospheric humidity. Air is refreshed via the windows rather than through ventilation ducts. Controllable ventilation flaps on the windows facilitate the circulation of fresh air. During the summer, the same ventilation flaps cool the building naturally at night. A pleasant ambient temperature of between 21°C and 26°C is guaranteed throughout the year. The surface area of the windows is sized precisely to ensure that the building does not heat up excessively when temperatures are warm. The high windows on the façade are designed to admit the maximum amount of natural light, so the use of artificial lighting can be largely avoided. Thanks to these features, the new building has very low energy requirements.
The Sonova Wireless Competence Center’s photovoltaic array generates 260,000 kilowatt-hours of energy per year, which is a higher amount of renewable and carbon-neutral electricity than is required to run it. This surplus capacity is fed back into the grid and made available to other consumers. The new building’s energy requirements are comfortably below the limits set by international and Swiss sustainability labels. According to figures supplied by Switzerland’s Federal Office for the Environment, buildings are responsible for around one quarter of CO2 emissions across the country.
The architecture of the two-story building creates a contemporary and innovative workplace for employees and reflects our open and collaborative culture. On the first floor, the spacious reception area, with its central staircase, forms the centerpiece of the new office and provides a space for spontaneous interaction. Leading off the reception area is an open-plan cafeteria and adjacent terrace. Also located on the first floor are the logistics center, R&D laboratories and R&D test chambers. On the second floor, open-plan offices and various focus and meeting rooms offer ample space for collaboration. All rooms are equipped with cutting-edge communications technology and ensure maximum flexibility for current and future work requirements.