PARIS - Wind turbines, solar panels, hydraulic turbines, a rainwater tank and low-energy light bulbs... The "iron lady" of Paris is ready to change her image: she is getting a makeover that will reinforce her beauty as well as her "green" credibility.
Perched 57 meters above the French capital, the first floor of the Eiffel Tower is set to be completely renovated for the first time in 30 years. The redevelopment, which started in May, should be completed at the start of 2014.
By the end of the year, the Gustave Eiffel pavilion will have new reception and conference rooms, while the Ferrié pavilion -- dedicated to visitor services such as restaurants and shops -- will be reconstructed in 2013.
Encircling the empty space in the middle of the structure, the viewing platform will be turned into a sort of atrium, as both the floor and safety railings will be replaced with glass panels. One of the objectives of this transformation is to "make the entire space accessible for the handicapped, which was not the case beforehand," outlines Nicolas Lefebvre, director of the Société d'Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (SETE), the tower’s operating company.
The company is also using the opportunity to "go green," after having adopted, in 2008, a sustainable development charter. The city of Paris owns 60 percent of SETE's capital, whilst the remaining 40 percent belongs to six institutional and private parties.
95 percent of lighting will be LED
The proposed objective is to improve the energy performance by 30 percent. To achieve this, new insulation and air-conditioning systems, will be installed. Four solar panels will also be installed, on a surface area of 10 m2 on the roof of the Ferrié building. "The solar panels will allow us to cover 50 percent of the two buildings' hot-water needs," says Lefebvre.
Add onto that four wind turbines, which will be placed underneath the building: equipped with helical blades, which, according to SETE, produce no noise pollution, they should produce 8,000 kilowatt-hours per year in electricity. Hydraulic turbines, integrated to the water conveyance network, will produce 4,000 kilowatt-hours per year -- and don't forget the rainwater tank that will provide water for the toilet facilities.
At the same time, 95 percent of the floor's lighting will become LED (light-emitting diodes), whilst heat pumps will regulate the heating and cooling of the buildings.
The total cost of the operation, which is being overseen by Moatti-Rivière architecture firm, is 25 million euros, which is being financed by SETE. According to the company's director, such a large-scale redevelopment is necessary. The Eiffel Tower, which, since its opening in 1889, has attracted more than 250 million visitors, has received more visitors in the past 30 years than in the entire first century of its existence. In relation to the seven millions visitors that the tower greets each year, 75 percent of whom are from abroad, this "green" makeover will be excellent publicity.