BREEAM hails Atlas the world’s most sustainable education building

April 16, 2019

With a score of 96.01% the Atlas building is at the very top of the BREEAM list of the most sustainable education buildings in the world.

Photo: Bart van Overbeeke.

The university’s Executive Board today received the BREEAM-certificate for the sustainability of the recently renovated Atlas building. BREEAM is one of the two leading systems worldwide for measuring the sustainability of buildings.

Atlas is the result of the renovation of the former TU/e Main building, which was completed this year. As a result of this renovation, the building’s CO2 emissions have been reduced by around 80 percent while the number of users has more than doubled. This reduction is partly due to the highly insulating glass facade and the fact that the building no longer uses fossil fuels: its connection to the gas grid is shut off. Heat and cooling now come from the campus-wide aquifier thermal energy storage system, which is one the largest in Europe.


Photo: Norbert van Onna

Night flushing

Part of the cooling comes from the outside air through windows that open automatically. This also makes ‘night flushing’ possible: if necessary, Atlas floor-to-ceiling windows slide out at night to cool the building and to purify the air. On top of this, the entire building uses smart and economical LED lighting, while solar panels provide an important part of the electricity demand.


Better still

The design for the renovation of the building also received a BREEAM score in 2016. At 93.86%, it was already the highest ever for an education building. Now, following its completion, the score is better still, in part due to the use of even more sustainable materials and through focusing on informing the building’s users. The latter is important because sustainability is partly determined by the behavior of the residents of the building.


Set the bar

 “We are extremely proud of this building,” says Nicole Ummelen, Vice-President of TU/e’s Executive Board, who is also housed in Atlas. “One of our most important tasks as a university of technology is to contribute to making the world more sustainable. We do this mainly through our research and by training engineers. But we believe that we should also practice what we preach. That’s why we set the bar very high when it comes to renovating our buildings, and we hope to inspire others with that.”

Atlas is the fourth TU/e building without a gas connection, and there are plans for a fifth building to become fossil fuel free. Since 2002, the university’s natural gas consumption has decreased by about three-quarters.


44000 square meters

Atlas houses the Department of Industrial Design, the Department of Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences, the Executive Board and the supporting services of TU/e. The building, which dates back to 1963, has sixteen stories and a floor space of 44000 square meters. More information about the sustainability of Atlas can be found on the website.

The design for the renovation came from Team RSVP, a collaboration between Team V Architecture, Van Rossum, Valstar Simonis and Peutz. Contractor Van Wijnen carried out the renovation.



With over twenty thousand certified buildings and building projects, BREEAM is one of the two most widely-used systems worldwide for determining the sustainability of buildings. Across all BREEAM-certified buildings, including those from categories other than education, Atlas ranks seventh. In the Netherlands, the certifying organization is the Dutch Green Building Council.


Media contact

Ivo Jongsma
(Communications Adviser)