On 7 March, in London, it was announced that the University's new Energy Academy Europe building has won the BREEAM Award 2017. This award underlines the fact that Groningen now has a particularly sustainable and ambitious building. Its smart design will keep its energy requirements low; the building will even be able to produce more energy than it uses. The Energy Academy Europe building is the most sustainable educational building in the Netherlands.
Highest BREEAM score
The building (15,000 m2) is designed to serve as an example at a time when fossil fuels and other polluting, high - consumption solutions are to become a thing of the past. This exceptionally energy - efficient building has been labelled ‘BREAAM-NL Outstanding’, the highest possible category. BREEAM is a way of building sustainably where the toll on the environment is kept as low as possible and a healthy working and living environment is stimulated. During the design phase of the Energy Academy Europe, much effort has been put into energy-saving measures. This involved keeping the demand for energy low on the one hand, and making maximum use of natural sources of energy such as sun, earth, air and water on the other hand.
Smart use of nature
How has this been achieved? A low-tech approach to the energy issue was chosen for this building. The design makes optimum use of readily available natural resources, such as earth, water, air and sunlight. Energy is generated using solar panels 1, a ‘solar chimney’ helps with natural ventilation, the winter garden creates a pleasant indoor climate and geothermal energy is used to heat and cool the air. Finally, rain water is collected for flushing the toilets and watering the plants. In addition, the Energy Academy Europe is the first new, large - scale, earthquake-resistant building in Groningen. If natural resources temporarily prove insufficient, back-up installations have been fitted for heating, ventilation and lighting systems.
Roughly speaking, the building comprises two sections. The research areas with laboratories and related workshops have been built on the north side, while the south side houses workspaces, a winter garden and teaching rooms. The winter garden serves as an important buffer zone, where air can be acclimatized.
‘The University of Groningen is very proud to have won the prestigious BREEAM award,’ says Jan de Jeu, Vice President of the Board of the University. ‘This exceptional new building project illustrates the UG's comprehensive commitment to sustainability. Not only do we pay attention to sustainable innovations and energy conservation in our building projects, we also focus on the responsible use of natural resources in our policies on refuse management and purchasing, for example. This attitude and ambition is manifest in the Energy Academy Europe building.’ Partly thanks to these initiatives, the University of Groningen now ranks 15th on the Green Metric list of the ‘greenest’ universities worldwide.
Energy of the future
In the Energy Academy Europe building - completed in October 2016 after just 18 months on construction – collaborating parties are working on the transition to the energy of the future. These are the University of Groningen with the Energy and Sustainability Research Institute Groningen (ESRIG), the Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen, Energy Academy Europe, Energy Valley and the Energy Delta Institute.
This project is co-financed by the Northern Netherlands Provinces alliance (SNN), the Ruimtelijk Economisch Programma and the Ministry of Economic Affairs.