It’s not often that we see oil companies making environmental initiatives an integral part of their corporate portfolio, but at least one company appears to be prioritizing corporate eco-friendly policies. Repsol S.A. is a Spanish multinational oil and gas company based in Madrid that employs over 40,000 people internationally, and it just opened a new LEED Plantinum Certified office in the Spanish Capital.
To the company’s credit, Repsol S.A. has been incorporating a strong social and environmental platform into their operations for quite a while. The Repsol Foundation initiates environmental projects and studies that look to improve the sustainability of energy sources and reduce the effects of harmful energy harvesting. Specialized projects like creating the world’s only BREEAM- certified petrol station make this company something of an eco-conscious leader in what is considered one of the most harmful sectors in terms of environmental impact.
Repsol’s latest project is a green 123,000 square meter building for its 4,000 Madrid-based employees. The Repsol Campus, newly opened in February of this year and designed by Spanish architect, Rafael de la Hoz, was awarded LEED Platinum certification in July. The campus is Madrid’s third LEED Platinum project, and the US Green Building Council awarded Repsol 53 out of a total of 69 points, recognizing the project’s achievements in site design, indoor environmental quality, water & energy efficiency and material conservation and usage.
Inspired by Repsol’s commitment to teamwork, the architect’s design interprets a modern version of the medieval “hortus conclusus” or “enclosed garden”. Four buildings are connected at the corners by footbridges, forming a large central courtyard that occupies a third of the total construction surface. The Campus’ central cloister is the social heart of the building, meant to encourage social interaction and provide a healthy work environment.
Designed by landscape artist Till Latzman, the garden area is 1.5 times larger than a soccer field and is home to 100 native plants such as pine trees and thyme, which are watered with collected rain water. Along with the open courtyard, the building includes two cafes, 17 community areas, as well as a health center with medical services and a gym.
According to Antonio Brufau, Repsol Chairman and CEO, the expansive, open design represents a new employee-centered concept, “Repsol’s staff are its greatest asset, which is why we have created a working environment built with people in mind. Repsol strives to be a modern, flexible company that adapts to society’s emerging needs and lifestyles.”
The industrial look of the Repsol Campus pays homage to the industrial core of the company, but the materials were purposely chosen for their ability to play a dual role in terms of aesthetics and sustainability. The entire structure is supported by more than one hundred 24-meter-high steel frames, each of which weighs 50 tons. These giant steel “ribs” work as a frame for the 45,000 square meters of glazed façade, and they provide integral support for the building’s energy efficiency objectives. The beams shade the interior from the harsh Spanish sun, while allowing natural light to filter into the building.
The building’s elongated, horizontal appearance may seem at odds with the traditional idea that corporate headquarters should be firmly planted in the shiniest and tallest of skyscrapers – and this is certainly intentional. The five-story Campus building was purposely height-limited to avoid the typical hierarchical atmosphere found inside many of today’s high-rise headquarters.
Repsol also sought to make the massive building an example of future headquarter design in terms of sustainability and accessibility. With regard to accessibility, the work environment can be used safely, comfortably and independently by 100% of its employees. During the design and construction process, volunteer employees, in collaboration with the Once Foundation, tested and identified any potential architectural obstacles within the complex. The result is a functioning workplace with a highly accessible design.
LEED Platinum certification was awarded to the Repsol Campus thanks to its various energy-saving attributes, which reduce the building’s footprint by 22 tons of CO2 each year. In terms of energy sourcing, 100% of the building’s energy is provided by the 1,700 square miles of photovoltaic solar panels on the roof.
Additionally, the building’s interior is equipped with innovative energy-saving systems. One technique fairly new to corporate Spain is the utilization of waste heat from refrigeration machines and computer equipment to heat water. To reduce wasteful water consumption, hybrid cooling towers and electronic systems are installed throughout the building. High-energy efficiency chillers used in the HVAC systems and lighting control procedures work to limit wasted energy. And finally, for those not using public transport, there is ample parking for bicycles and electric cars and many charging stations installed in the parking area.
Images ©Rafael de la Hoz