Customer application 9 October 2019
Room Automation Made Easy

Freiburg im Breisgau stands as one of the most ecological cities in Germany. The new city hall is clear proof of this: In 2017, its first construction phase was inaugurated as one of the first net plus-energy public buildings in the world. The WAGO flexROOM® room automation system contributes to the city hall's high levels of energy efficiency.

The first net plus-energy public building worldwide is located in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany. Over the course of a year, the new city hall generated more electricity than it used. The excess energy was supplied to the city electrical network. About 840 employees, previously distributed among different locations in this city section, now work on about 24,000 m2 within the building. The building also includes a day care center with an additional surface of 1,500 m2. The dedication in November 2017 marked the first construction phase. In the second phase, additional buildings for municipal administrative functions are planned for completion by 2024.

Energy-Efficient Room Automation – How WAGO Supports You:

  • flexROOM® is so flexible it is used for lighting, sun protection and temperature control.

  • Because all possible scenarios have already been mapped in flexROOM®, no further programming is necessary.

  • In 2018, the Freiburg City Hall – thanks also to flexROOM® – took first place in the DGNB (German Sustainable Building Council) competition “Sustainable Building.”

A Concept Combining Comfort and Efficiency

The energy concept of the city hall fulfills the strict criteria of the passive house standards with an annual energy consumption of only about 55 kWh per m2 for heating, cooling, ventilation, hot water generation and lighting – this is 40% of the primary energy consumption of a comparable office building. A combination of heat pumps, solar thermal energy and photovoltaics on the roof and facade generate at least this amount. The Drees & Sommer engineering design company developed the building energy concept, which unites high efficiency with user comfort.

This concept also includes the room automation, heating and air conditioning, lighting and even the shading in the office areas. The engineering service provider LAE Engineering was commissioned with planning and installing the room automation. This medium-sized company offers services in the areas of building technology, industry and electricity generation. With around sixty employees, IAE realizes projects for purpose-built structures like office buildings, wholesale stores or factory halls.

Minimum Wiring Expense

“We realized the room automation for the new city hall in Freiburg predominantly with flexROOM® from WAGO,” states Karlheinz Götz, who manages the Energy and Building Technology section at LAE. The versatile solution for building automation provides lighting, sun protection and temperature control – without any programming. The flexROOM® System is based on a single system housing in which all necessary components are already built in. In addition to a controller, these components include interfaces to the sensors and actuators, the power supply and a network connection. All of the interfaces have a plug-in design, which minimizes wiring expenses related to installation.

Application software, which functions based on the room axes concept, is already installed on the controller. A single window axis makes up the smallest modular unit, and includes the complete measurement and control system for lighting, shading, heating, and cooling. Several axes can be combined as needed for flexibly designing rooms of any size. Special areas such as corridors, stairwells and sanitary facilities can also be individually designed. The flexROOM® Distribution Boxes are available in different variants for 8, 16 or 24 axes.

Parameters are easy to set via the Webserver; we don't need any programming at all any more.

Karlheinz Götz, Manager, Energy and Building Technology at LAE Engineering

Parameter Setting – Not Programming

The software on the flexROOM® Controllers is so universal that it has already been mapped with all possible scenarios. “Parameters are easy to set via the Webserver integrated into the controller,” explains Götz. “We don't need to do any programming at all any more.” The division into rooms, the configuration of the outlets and connection of the switches, pushbuttons, temperature sensors, etc., is all accomplished by mouse click in the Web surface. The flexROOM® Distribution Boxes support all protocols and communication standards needed for room automation. This includes KNX, SMI, DALI and EnOcean. “Even though EnOcean has distinct advantages related to flexibility in room arrangement,” affirms Götz, “for this project, the builder wanted to install wired switches and pushbuttons.” This, too, is possible with flexROOM®.

The rooms in the Freiburg City Hall are constructed with heating and cooling sails on the ceiling, providing a very comfortable room climate. The temperature regulation in heating operation operates at three levels: In night mode, the room temperature is lowered and then raised to a standby temperature shortly before daily work time starts. The temperature is only increased to comfort level, normally preset to 21°C (70°F), when the presence detector registers a person in the respective room. The heating/cooling sail is controlled via PWM valves connected to the digital inputs of the flexROOM® Distribution Box. The presence detectors in the rooms are connected via DALI. At the same time, DALI is used for the lighting control system, which works with constant light control. Thus, if the sun shines through the windows, the controls dim the lighting to save energy. Heating and cooling; lighting as well, are extremely energy efficient with this approach.

No External Service Providers Needed

Even the blinds on the windows contribute to energy efficiency. “At low temperatures, the blinds are closed at night to provide extra insulation,” explains Götz. “And in strong winds, the blinds open again automatically to prevent any damage.” These functions, which access data from a central weather station, are also already implemented in the flexROOM® Program and only need to be parameterized.

One of the main reasons leading to the decision for flexROOM® was the ease with which parameters are changed. For example, if the standby temperature needs to be raised by one degree or the lighting intensity in one section of the office should be lowered, no external service provider needs to be called in. The facility management staff can easily adjust the corresponding parameters from their desk via a standard Web browser.

We can quickly make changes in response to customer wishes without having to leave our desks.

Karlheinz Götz, Manager, Energy and Building Technology at LAE Engineering

Controlling Lighting Scenes for the Citizens‘ Service Center

The Stühlinger City Hall required a total of around 130 flexROOM® Distribution Boxes. LAE parameterized them before the installation and then set them into operation on site. As Götz can verify, the fact that each controller is equipped with a Webserver received especially positive notice during commissioning. “The flexROOM® Distribution Boxes in the rooms could be directly accessed with a laptop via the WLAN connection. This way, we could immediately test each change.” The password-protected access via the Webserver paid off after commissioning as well. “So changes can be made quickly in response to customer wishes without having to leave our own desks,” as Götz is pleased to relate.

Yet there are also applications where flexROOM® reaches its limits. In the Freiburg City Hall, these are the kitchen, cafeteria and citizen service center. “Because there are no fixed room axes here like there are in the office areas, we used the freely programmable PFC200 Controllers from WAGO,” Götz points out. In addition to heating and cooling, they control different lighting scenes and for the kitchen, the ventilation as well.

To enable calling up the preprogrammed lighting scenes, a 10-inch Web Panel is installed in both the citizens‘ service center and the kitchen manager‘s office. The parameter for the kitchen ventilation system, for example, can be set on these panels. “With flexROOM®, the rooms in most of the building can be automated – but for special areas, we always need freely programmable controllers,” states Götz. For the project design, LAE turned to the WAGO e!COCKPIT Automation Software. This enables both easy programming in languages that adhere to the IEC 61131-3 standard and easy visualization, which is implemented on a Webserver contained in the controller. This allows the facility manager to change setpoints, and the actual values from various sensors can be read and evaluated.

High Distinction

Among numerous other criteria, efficient room automation is also included in the evaluation of a building for environmental distinctions. The Stühlinger City Hall fulfilled the highest requirements in practically all areas. The builder is especially proud that in 2018, the building was awarded first place in the “Sustainable Building” awards competition organized by the DGNB (German Sustainable Building Council). Götz is convinced, “The energy-efficient room automation made a definite contribution here.”

Text: Michael Dewald


Architect: ingenhoven architects"

Related to the Topic

The Efficiency of Intelligent Room Automation and its Intelligent Realization

Lighting Installation and Automation that Proves its Worth

Modern lighting is needs-oriented, comfortable and saves energy – assuming, of course, that your skilled planning, an optimum installation and intelligent lighting control fully exploit the potentials your system offers.


Intelligent Room Automation for Economical Operation

Planning, implementation and building operation must demonstrate both maximum efficiency and a high degree of adaptability.


This May Also Interest You

flexROOM® in Use at Philips

Inspiring Light Scenarios for a Novel Office Experience

Not only has Philips, a technology company, created a highly modern workspace with creatively themed areas at its DACH regional headquarters in Hamburg – the building is also a showpiece for innovative lighting technology. FlexROOM®, the adaptable solution for building automation from WAGO, handles all the room automation in the six-story venue, which comprises 13,500 m2 of office space.


Variable Room Concept for Flexible Work Environments

Philips has created not only a highly modern workspace with creatively themed areas at its regional headquarters in Hamburg, but the building is also a showpiece for innovative lighting technology. The flexROOM® adaptable solution for building automation from WAGO manages the complete automation of rooms at the six-story campus.