Atlas most sustainable education building in the world

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, 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: 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 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 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 44000 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.

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 will be possible thanks to a contribution of these parties.

Renovation main building to Atlas building

The sixteen-story main building has been given new and contemporary furnishings and fittings, energy-efficient installations and a high-insulation glass curtain wall. A new, connecting stairway is situated in the center of the building which is, starting from the so-called ‘Red Strip’ (the aggregate of connecting routes via walkways on the campus), zigzag upwards right onto the top of the building. Another ambition of TU/e was to give the renovated Atlas building a role as an experimental garden. For one, the Intelligent Lighting Institute (ILI) uses the premises as a living lab for research and tests.

Sustainable building
The renovation plan of the Atlas building attained the label BREEAM  ‘outstanding’. That is unique indeed for an educational building in the Netherlands.

Atlas has been selected in London, 7 March 2017, as winner for the BREEAM Award in the election for most sustainable educational building. The BREEAM awards, also known as the Oscars of sustainable buildings, enjoy a prominent international reputation.Read the news article.

Also see sustainable Atlas.

Team V
The renovation has been carried out in accordance with the design vision by the total engineer teamRSVP (consisting of Team V Architectuur, Van Rossum, Valstar Simonis and Peutz).. The design vision provides for maintenance of the visual quality of architect Van Embden from the 1960s.  Van Wijnen was the constructor of the renovation. November 16, 2018 the building was completed. 21 March, 2019 the official opening took place.