Prague Congress Centre: When sustainability is not just a sexy claim
Sustainability is a trend, but also a journey. The Prague Congress Centre has successfully followed it, combining vision with technology and a proactive approach to prove that even monumental spaces hosting large congresses and social events can be run sustainably. And sustainable are also the events it hosts at the top level in a neo-functionalist gallery space with more than two hundred works of art.
Great location and breathtaking views
PCC stands out not only for its unique central location and unrivalled views of the medieval Prague panorama. It is a living gallery of the now-so-trendy 80s art & design with more than 200 artworks. Being located directly on the metro, PCC is a perfect fit for every kind of event. No wonder people such as Barack Obama, Vaclav Havel or the Dalai Lama have attended events here as well as top European politicians during the Czech Republic's EU Presidency in 2022. At the moment the centre is preparing to welcome over 4,000 guests from 96 countries attending the upcoming 27th World Road Congress.
Green life and green events
PCC encourages a holistic approach towards sustainability starting from big system changes all the way to staff engagement. Employees across the company minimize single-use products and materials, replace paper signage system with digital, pack promotional items in recycled packaging, or use soda fountains.
Most importantly, sustainability has become the foundation of the PCC event management – from arrival of guests to the last cherry on the catering table. The centre promotes use of public transport with free tickets for congress participants. It has set up one of the largest electric car charging hubs in Prague. And it choose business partners with the same eco-friendly approach. Visitors enjoy refreshments from Zátiší Catering, prepared directly in-house – eliminating transport costs, disposable packaging and waste. Moreover, any leftovers are placed in free community fridges. The food is prepared from local ingredients and herbs grown on the centre's own terrace. As the centre's marketing and sales director Roman Sovjak points out, "We take sustainability seriously and don't just flaunt it as a sexy claim. Come and try us for yourself."
Environment and savings go hand in hand
Every year the PCC hosts approximately 200 events with half a million visitors passing through the gates each season. In 2016 PCC embarked on the most technologically complex energy saving EPC investment project in the Czech Republic, and has managed to introduce a state-of-the-art complex energy management system. A combination of modern, smart energy-saving technologies include system of heating using the excessive heat from the kitchens or "free cooling” with the help of fresh air from the outside. Dozens of sensors placed around the building monitor the level of carbon dioxide in the air and regulate ventilation in each room separately as needed. "First we calculated we could save up to EUR9.8 million on energies and reduce consumption by 30% in the next 10 years. However, our savings have already amounted to EUR 1.226 million per year. As an example, we now save three Olympic swimming pools full of water every year," says Luděk Bednář, Technical Director of PCC.
Last year, the largest rooftop solar power plant in Prague, the size of a football pitch, was added to the centre's roof, saving 10% of total energy consumption and significantly reducing the building's carbon footprint by over ten tonnes of CO2 every year.
The Prague Congress Centre is a place where technology meets the environment and a strong belief in the meaningfulness of the green change. The result is not only savings, but also unforgettable sustainable events. This unique combination makes the centre an inspiration for other international congress venues who want to bring the congress tourism a step forward towards a sustainable future for the industry.
Green Prague Congress Centre
We feel responsible for the environment and therefore we draw energy from renewable resources. The purest energy is the one that we don’t consume. Our long-term goal is to reduce overall energy consumption. Since 2016, when a number of energy-saving measures were implemented in the framework of the modernisation of the Prague Congress Centre, we managed to reduce energy costs by 21 million CZK a year.
Environmental benefits per year:
Water saving: 11 533 m3 = 3 Olympic pools
Energy saving: 9 740 945 kWh = annual household consumption e.g. in Františkovy Lázně
Cleaner air: 726 tons of CO2 = 166,5 hot air balloons filled with CO2
The project’s economic parameters:
Investments in energy-saving measures: 121 million CZK excluding VAT
Annual contract-guaranteed savings: 24 million CZK
Project duration: 10 years
Energy savings: 30 %
Money savings266 831 431 CZK
Saved energy118 631 869 kWh
Reduction of CO2 emissions76 471,00 tons
What changes have helped us to save?
- Modernisation of the central boiler room, which is now fitted with 4 new boilers.
- The new cogeneration unit looks like an engine from a really big truck and can make electricity and heat out of fuel. If there’s a breakdown in energy, the Prague Congress Centre can continue to work thanks to this unit.
- Reconstructed air conditioning is controlled by dozens of CO2 sensors deployed throughout the building. The number of fan speeds will only start to increase when the amount of CO2 in the expelled air starts to increase. This saves the electricity needed to operate the air conditioning, as well as the energy for heating or cooling the injected air.
- Design LED lamps replaced old lamps. They not only look good but they’re also economical and allow for fluent light intensity control. And when needed, it shines at the limit of hygiene standards. This is also how the lights in the underground garages work. This simple trick saves tens of thousands of Czech crowns per-annum.
- Ordinary water-savers and EKO WC flushing "with a short and long flush" can surprisingly reduce the water consumption by thousands of litres of water per-annum.
- Measurement and control systems designed to maintain a quality indoor environment where visitors and staff can feel comfortable.
These elements are like the instruments in an orchestra - their alignment creates the final effect:
- Waste air, this is the air that is drawn from the halls, heats the fresh air in the winter, which is drawn from the Nusel Valley, in the summer it’s the opposite way around.
- The heat from the cogeneration unit is used for heating and pre-heating domestic hot water.
- Heat from flue gases, which would normally pass through the chimney, is also used. In the Prague Congress Centre this is first used to heat the air, which is necessary for combustion in boilers. If the ice outdoor air is fed into the boilers, the temperature would be unnecessarily reduced and therefore their effectiveness. The flue gas colour determines that this process works. The whiter, the higher the temperature. If they’re barely visible, they pass on their heat.
- Heat generated on the southern, sunlit side of the building is used to heat the rooms located on the northern side.
The conductors of this orchestra are dispatchers. Their outstanding help is an individual temperature control system
(IRC) in individual rooms, which allows the automatic adjustment of temperatures according to the building programme as well as the use. Temperature in the meeting rooms is set higher, on the other hand, the temperature in the toilets, corridors and staircases is one to two degrees lower. Also, space occupancy is considered. Each viewer „
their own heat, so it’s necessary to warm the rooms adequately to provide thermal comfort for the event’s duration. This is what the computers in the dispatch office are doing.
The project at the Prague Congress Centre was implemented in the form of energy services with savings guarantee (EPC)*
, where the costs of modernisation are covered by future energy savings, which the Prague Congress Centre is secured by contract.
An important part is energy management
, whose task is to find areas with more savings potential. Provider of the project is ENESA a. s. from ČEZ ESCO.
„The reconstruction was exceptionally extensive and at first we were worried, but it all worked out well.“
Ing. Luděk Bednář, Technical and Operational Director of the Prague Congress Centre
„We are pleased that we can offer our visitors a programme in halls with a quality interior environment.“
Ing. Lenka Žlebková, Sales and Marketing Director of the Prague Congress Centre
„The Prague Congress Centre has been an extraordinary challenge for us. Regarding the amount of investment, and especially the technological complexity, it’s the largest project of its kind in our country.“
Ivo Slavotínek, Director of ENESA a. s.
- Energy services with guaranteed savings (EPC) are one of the ways to modernise heating, air conditioning and other energy management components in energy-efficient buildings.
- The advantage of the EPC is that the investment is repaid from future savings and the customer is contractually guaranteed this amount.
- Both the customer and the supplier have one goal: maximum energy savings.
- The manner of reporting is negotiated by contract. This ensures the demonstration and transparency of savings.
- EPC includes energy management, which has the task of monitoring and analysing energy consumption and finding other areas to save.