Groupe Brunet recently cut the ribbon on an autonomous building in collaboration with IRT Nanoelec; the building has its own energy, water, telecommunications, IT, and wastewater treatment systems.

The idea for the Zest (Zone d’Expériences Sociales et Technologiques) autonomous building demonstrator was hatched around three years ago by a multidisciplinary team of philosophers, sociologists, economists, and artists brought together by the MINATEC IDEAs Laboratory®. The 70 sq. m prototype was then developed under the aegis of the IRT Nanoelec PULSE program.

Zest combines well-known basic technologies with innovative new concepts developed at IRT Nanoelec. The challenge was to get all of these technologies and concepts to work together seamlessly. The solution consists of various-sized modules for specific functions like producing and recycling water (such as by recovering rainwater), storing energy, managing waste, and connecting to communications networks. The building’s rooftop is completely covered with solar panels; one or more small wind turbines provide additional energy. All energy production is centrally managed.

The origami-inspired building, which can be assembled in less than 48 hours, is made from wood, composites, and insulating materials; the structural components are steel. The building was developed to adapt to different climates (even extreme) and a variety of usages, including tourist accommodation. It will be of interest to any market with a need for off-grid buildings for residential or other uses. A Groupe Brunet subsidiary is now preparing the innovation for commercial release.