Swiss resort uses lake water for unique heating and cooling system

Terrace restaurant at Burgenstock Resort overlooks Lake Lucerne

Spices Terrace restaurant at Burgenstock Resort overlooks Lake Lucerne

A new resort on the edge of Lake Lucerne in Switzerland uses a unique energy system for the heating and cooling of the hotel.

Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne was launched in September last year and it was important to the developers to keep sustainability as a core feature. Taking inspiration from its original owners, Franz Josef Bucher and Josef Durrer, two local partners who opened the first electric cable car in Switzerland, the developers of the new resort continued this legacy of forward thinking.

Therefore they developed a unique system which uses lake water to heat and cool all the buildings of the resort. This system covers 100% of the cooling and 80% of the heating needs of the resort. The remaining 20% accounts for peak loads at times of tough winter conditions. In those times liquefied gas must be used to cover the heating needs.

The energy system works by pumping the lake water at a depth of 37m from Lake Lucerne where the water is a consistent 5°C. The water rises to a temperature of 7°C as it is transported. It is then pumped 500 meters uphill into a reservoir located at 926 meters above sea level. From there, water is steered to an energy station. From this station a network of pipes has been built linking all buildings of the resort. Part of the water is heated until 50°C and distributed via the pipe network. In the buildings, the water can be heated to 60°C with heating pumps. Water with a 9°C temperature is used for air-conditioning. This efficient system avoids the need for cooling towers.

The system that pumps lakewater for heating and cooling

The system that pumps lake water for heating and cooling

In addition to air-conditioning, cold water is used for the ice of the ice rink, as well as for all fridges and freezers in the resort. The cooled or heated water is brought back to its original temperature, and transported back to the lake via a second reservoir tank. While travelling downhill, the water passes through a turbine, in turn producing electricity for the resort. With this electricity, 50% of the pump flow can be covered.

Lake water is also used for the swimming pools, irrigation of the golf course and plant watering throughout the entire resort. Thanks to this system, the resort is almost CO2 neutral and provides the latest building insulation standards.

Inside the pumping station

Inside the pumping station

During the construction and renovation of the resort further efforts were made to make the use of materials sustainable. The materials excavated on site have been recycled into the construction and renovation of the resort. For example, 25,000 m² of excavated material has been used to recreate the historic 1928 golf course. The driving range has also been reconstructed with an additional 40,000m² of excavated material. Gabions (rock filled cages) have been used where possible to minimise the use of concrete walls. The use of a total of 165,000 m² excavated material has spared 18,000 lorry journeys up and down the valley. This equates to nine times around the planet.

The gabions have a second environmental benefit, providing a valuable habitat for flora and fauna. Together with larch wood, these gabions can be found on the walls of the Waldhotel Health & Medical Excellence, which are partly and naturally covered with plants. Fauna and natural habitats have been carefully preserved throughout the resort. When the track for the Bürgenstock Funicular was rebuilt, special paths were integrated to allow the local wildlife such as hedgehogs, deer, rabbits and foxes to cross the tracks safely. Bees are also inhabitants of the area. To cater for this, chalet-style beehives have been built underneath the Palace Hotel facing south. A show room invites guests to see the production process behind a glass pane.

The resort is also respectful of the local flora. To offset some of the construction 4,400 m2 of mixed woodland has been planted. A vineyard has also been planted on the south side of the resort. White grapes called ‘solaris’ have been carefully selected as the perfect match for the resort’s altitude. The vineyard is operated and managed by a local and organic winemaker. Surrounding the vineyard, old fruit trees of the resort were replanted. In order to preserve a protected tree one corner of the infinity edge pool of the Bürgenstock Alpine Spa had to be re-aligned.

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