The most sustainable building of education

BREEAM hails Atlas the world’s most sustainable education building

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. The university’s Executive Board received the corresponding certificate on 16 April, 2019 during the National BREEAM Congress. 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. 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: it’s connection to the gas grid is shut off. Heat and cooling now come from the campus-wide aquifier thermal energy storage system (ATES), which is one the largest in Europe.

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 Oustanding 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.

44,000 square meters
Atlas houses the Departments of Industrial Design and 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 44,000 square meters.

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.

Atlas, an icon of a sustainable university

The Atlas building, whereby sustainability and comfort are key, reflects the projection of sustainability pictured by TU/e in its operation, education and research. A healthy and comfortable working environment for the users, the prevention of energy wastage and the reuse of materials are at the heart of this.

Sustainable and future proof
Atlas has been transformed into an attractive, sustainable and future proof building optimally acclimatized for study, work and living. The building that dates from 1963 is connected to the geothermal energy installation, has a highly insular glass facade with a unique system of windows and uses Smart Energy Saving Lighting.

Atlas Living lab
The modernized Atlas building is also a living lab for the Intelligent Lighting Institute (ILI) to research and test intelligent lighting (SAD-free environment).

The European Union has given subsidy to make the Atlas building the most sustainable education building in the world. The building has to serve as an example in the field of sustainable renovation.
Atlas has been made possible thanks to a contribution of these parties.