Water handling solution delivers energy benefits

The Philharmonie de Paris viewed from the Pantin Gardens.
The Philharmonie de Paris viewed from the Pantin Gardens.
The impressive but controversial Philharmonie de Paris.
The impressive but controversial Philharmonie de Paris.
The SRL pump evacuation lift station modules fit into tight spaces in the complex's foundations.
The SRL pump evacuation lift station modules fit into tight spaces in the complex's foundations.
Surpresschrom Classic booster pumps with Supreme IE4 motors.
Surpresschrom Classic booster pumps with Supreme IE4 motors.
The KSB SRL online pump evacuation lift station.
The KSB SRL online pump evacuation lift station.

Situated in the Pantin Garden in an area now known as the City of Music, the new concert hall rises to a height of 37 m, and is capped by an aluminium wrap-around screen some 52 m high. Spanning an area of 100 m by 330 m, the concert hall features eleven overlapping levels of different heights, nine floors and two basements. At the centre of the building is an auditorium capable of seating more than 3,200, plus there are rehearsal suites, changing rooms, meeting rooms, exhibition spaces, an educational centre, public areas, administrative offices, shops catering facilities and parking.

Environmental requirements  

Inevitably, such a construction project involved many environmental challenges, not least of which was the reliability of the environmental services, operating comfort and energy efficiency of the building. Alongside the considerations of the musicians, audiences and administration personnel were the practicalities of producing an innovative, environmentally responsible and energy efficient building where water management, distribution and maintenance were prime considerations.

To achieve these goals, the services of Jules CUNIN SA Group (Epinal), were brought in to take responsibility for delivering the fluid handling infrastructure, plumbing and security of water management. To achieve this they worked closely with international pumps and valves manufacturer KSB. This decision was made on KSB's reputation for innovative strategies in the area of energy efficiency and its ability to assist the customer in selecting reliable and long-lasting solutions.

Although rarely discussed, wastewater handling, water management and distribution has a significant impact in a building of this type, especially as this project was part of an environmental approach in accordance with the French standard Haute Qualité Environnementale (HQE). This standard evaluates the energy consumption of the new building.

In order to provide the concert hall with the most efficient fluid handling technologies KSB's remit was to provide a wastewater/effluent pumping system, design a suitable distribution system for drinking quality water and also take into account the recovery and recycling of rainwater from the 22,000 m² of roof space for green areas, cleaning and maintenance.

To meet the challenging requirements of handling and removing effluent and wastewater from the concert hall complex KSB installed an SRL online lift station solution tailored to meet the environmental and operational requirements. In addition, a pumping station for delivering drinking quality water to all parts of the concert hall was installed, this aspect involving the implementation of the new energy efficiency (IE4) Supreme motor; this being a first in France for this motor on this type of application.

Challenging design

The design of the building directly influenced the choice of infrastructure technical facilities, as it combines the demands of a public building with the exceptional requirements of a world-class musical venue. As with any establishment open to the public throughout the day, let alone holding concerts and recitals, the attendance fluctuates considerably with very high levels being experienced when performances are being mounted. In order to accommodate flow variations placed on the plumbing and wastewater removal infrastructure, there was also the very important matter of aesthetics of the facilities, odour control, ease of daily maintenance and system reliability.

In addition, the Philharmonie de Paris wanted to enroll in a HQE, a “first” which strongly influenced the decisions taken by Cunin Group and KSB. Five targets were highlighted in the context of the HQE: energy, water, cleaning and maintenance and quiet acoustics.

For water, the project managers requested: “the reduction of water consumption for facilities including hot water and cold water in public toilets, a decrease in water pressure to 2.5 bar so as to attain large water savings, an optimised plumbing system design and the installation of meters. The management of stormwater runoff was also requested, with recovery for watering green spaces, cleaning and maintenance of floors, facades and water harvesting.” As a result, water management was a major objective for the project managers and also for Cunin and KSB who faced the challenge of controlling the energy required to circulate water around the complex.

Wastewater: the performance of the online solution

Given the building's irregular shape, featuring overlapping levels, several hundred water points and some 30 kilometres of pipes, together with variable usage throughout the day, a robust solution both for the supply of water and the evacuation of wastewater was a prime consideration. Evacuating wastewater from public toilets, dressing rooms, offices, rehearsals rooms and teaching areas, amounting around 500 regularly used fixtures, was the first consideration.

From the outset of the project, Cunin Group challenged the initial wastewater specification, which involved lift vessels and submersible pumps, due to the risk of clogging and the build-up of unpleasant odours in this prestigious and sensitive location. Having been awarded the contract a proposal was submitted by KSB that departed from a conventional approach. This was the SRL online pump evacuation lift station system, where the wastewater does not stagnate, nor is there potential for the pumps to become blocked. It was a proposal that was very attractive to Cunin Group, who duly opted for this design.

Compact, odour-free, easy to maintain, robust and reliable, the KSB SRL systems were the ideal match for the narrowness and tight dimensions of the available spaces (and pit traps). The online lift station is compact because there is no requirement for the storage of wastewater and being a modular solution, it can be passed through narrow hatches of the pit trap to be assembled in situ.

The SRL online stations were designed and constructed by the Engineering Department of KSB Deville-les-Rouen, and each of the three stations comprises two pumps with frequency inverters for speed control. The Amarex SRL is a dedicated wastewater pump that is designed to handle the type of solids-laden fluids that are discharged from toilets, kitchens, other facilities within the Philharmonie complex and rainwater. The design of the impeller and pump housing ensure a free flow of solids-laden liquid from the complex without the need for liquid storage ahead of the pumps. The principle of the dry pit proved ideal for this project, with the closed pumping design eliminating the possibility of odours and gases escaping because the effluent being transported inside the pipe does not stagnate. It also has the additional benefit that it removes the need for maintenance personnel to work with dirty water.

The ability for the Amarex SRL to deliver on-demand pumping is of major importance because it accommodates occupational usage variations in flow thought the day and year. Flow monitors positioned in the inflow pipes measure the incoming flow and when a set level is reached the frequency flow controller activates a specific pump and the speed at which it needs to run. By equipping all the pumps with frequency flow control, the pump speed of each pump is matched to the incoming flow so power consumption is optimised and greatly reduced. Electronic monitoring also alerts maintenance personnel to the possibility of solids build-up.

Apart from the attendance peaks when all wastewater facilities are heavily loaded, the varying throughput of visitors throughout the day makes for irregular usage, and therefore peaks and troughs in the concentration of solid matter, give even more weight to the online solution. The KSB SRL pump reduces the risk of clogging to almost zero. At the centre of the installation is a vortex impeller that leaves a large free passage of 76 mm. Another consequence is the longevity of the system because it operates in a dry environment; the effluent is less aggressive reducing wear and the well dimensioned stainless steel pipes and smooth profile provider further guarantee of the sustainability of the facility.

Pressure boosting first

KSB's involvement in the project also enabled them to deliver a “first” in France, with the installation of their Supreme motor-driven booster pumps for drinking quality water. The Supreme is a synchronous reluctance motor that offers high levels of energy efficiency and enables pumps to be run at varying speeds to meet the demand on the pumps. This makes the synchronous reluctance motor far more energy efficient than an asynchronous motor. For the Philharmonie de Paris, where water consumption can vary dramatically, having pumps that reflect demand, and therefore use far less energy, is of immense importance in its quest for HQE qualification.

Pressure boosting pumps were identified back in 2008 as being critical to the daily operation of the Philharmonie de Paris, because of the design and number of overlapping levels in the building. Without such pumps, it would be difficult to deliver water to all 500 outlets at a constant pressure. Following recommendations made in 2008, the initial order for booster pumps was awarded to KSB, specifying the booster Surpresschrom “classic” comprising four pumps with standard IE2 motors. This selection was made based on the reliability of the recognised qualities of this equipment.

However, in 2009 KSB developed a prototype energy-efficient synchronous reluctance motor, the Supreme. After entering full-scale production in 2012, KSB presented their new IE4 motor to Cunin Group, highlighting the greater levels of energy efficiency that it would deliver. The result was that Cunin Group asked KSB to submit a fresh proposal based on detailed calculations and data provided. So convinced were Cunin Group that this solution would be exactly in line with the objective of HQE qualification for Philharmonie de Paris that the new proposal was accepted, making it the first application for the IE4 motor in France.

A total of three Surpresschrom pumpsets equipped with Movitec pumps have been installed, with one featuring the new Supreme motor. One set is dedicated to the fire protection sprinkler system, one for the normal fire system and a third, containing four pumps each fitted with the Supreme motor, for sanitary standard water. Together these pumpsets give the Philharmonie the optimum solution for its goal of meeting the international IEC standard.

The Supreme engine meets the IEC standard due to the result of a change in motor technology, which combined with the performance of frequency variation systems, make it a class IE4 motor. It is characterised by high efficiency at partial load, making it the ideal solution for public buildings such as the Philharmonie. Its savings compared to an “equivalent” asynchronous motor range from 10 to 50%. Using the load profiles at the Philharmonie, the annual energy consumption savings that are achievable are an impressive to 20%. In addition, its manufacture does not involve the use of rare earth materials, making it is less polluting.


The Philharmonie de Paris has set a new level in the design and provision of world standard cultural facilities with its dedication to acoustics and accommodation for artists, audiences and employees. It has also raised the bar in its objective of meeting the highest levels of energy efficiency and environmental responsibilities. The installation of three KSB SRL online lift stations and three Surpresschrom energy efficient water system booster pumps for environmental and fire protection duties have made a major contribution towards the achievement of its goal.