Rome’s new convention center is the largest building to be constructed in the city in over 50 years. It covers 55,000 square meters in Rome’s historic EUR district, and includes an 8,000-capacity convention building with an adjacent hotel. The focal point of the center is “The Cloud,” a translucent fiberglass structure suspended within a giant glass box that has an auditorium for 1,800 people.
The center’s modern, architectural design incorporates innovative logistics solutions and technologically advanced materials. This includes an energy-efficient plant for cooling, heating, sanitary hot water and fire protection that uses several Xylem products. The Xylem solution includes Lowara Z10 borehole pumps, two Lowara GHV20 booster sets with Hydrovar variable speed drives, and two Lowara GEM firefighting booster sets.
Maximum comfort with minimum energy consumption
In such a complex project, one of the key challenges for the center’s engineers was to define system solutions that would ensure the highest level of comfort with the least possible energy consumption, while still meeting the restrictive regulations for large public venues. To ensure effective solutions for the supply of hot and cold water to this colossal feat of engineering, Eur SpA turned to Condotte SpA and Xylem.
“The long and intricate pathways of the convention center compelled us to integrate architecture and technology, aesthetics and reliability, comfort and functionality,” says Luca Di Cesare, Plant Manager at Condotte SpA. “Equipment and materials had to be precisely calibrated, so the sizing and choice of each component was crucial.”
Reliable and sustainable water supply
At the heart of the conference center is the central air conditioning and heating system. It has two cooling units and five polyvalent heat pumps to meet the requirements for cooling, heating and producing sanitary hot water.
Water is drawn from a nearby lake using Xylem Lowara Z10 borehole pumps to feed the condensation circuit. Once collected, the water is filtered and brought to the various cooling units for condensation, and then returned to the lake with a maximum thermal increase of 5°C (41°F) to avoid disturbing the ecosystem.
“If any problem, such as power loss in the transformer room, causes the pumps to stop collecting water from the lake,” explains Di Cesare, “three Lowara FHF 90kW backup pumps – installed specifically for this reason – will start up. For a limited time, these pumps would draw water from storage tanks and provide water to the cooling units.”
Energy-efficient circulation pumps
The output water from the cooling units and polyvalent heat pumps is fed into the primary circuit and moved by a series of Lowara FHS and FHF end suction centrifugal pumps (now available as e-NSC series pumps) to the secondary circuit, designed to serve components such as radiant panels, air handling units and precision air conditioning. The water is then pumped through the secondary circuit to all systems using Lowara FHS pumps with Hydrovar controllers for optimal flow regulation, ensuring substantial energy savings.
For sanitary hot water, two Lowara GHV20 booster sets equipped with Hydrovar controllers have been installed – a low-pressure group for the ground floor, and a high-pressure one for The Cloud’s auditorium. Water quality is guaranteed by the inclusion of water treatment systems with water softeners and chlorine dosing in the high- and low-pressure pumps.
The high reliability of Xylem systems was also a crucial factor in the design of the fire protection system for the €300 million convention center. The system includes two Lowara GEM firefighting booster sets, one for the convention center and one for the adjoining hotel, both designed in accordance with standard EN 12845 for automatic sprinkler systems.
Each set is composed of two electric service pumps, one serving as a backup for the other, and a pilot pump used to compensate for eventual minor losses in the fire circuit. The pumps draw water from two 400 m3 storage tanks to serve the sprinklers and UNI installation, including an advanced water mist system designed to protect the cherry wood and designer furnishings of The Cloud’s auditorium.
Construction of the convention center began in 2008. The pumps were gradually installed starting in 2012 but weren’t put into operation until 2016. “There were no startup problems at all,” says Di Cesare. “Xylem was able to respond more than adequately to our needs and expectations.”