BY: MATTHEW CHIN
In the Netherlands, the world’s most sustainable building shows how the working environment can also be environmentally friendly. The Edge is a 40,000 square metre office building and the headquarters of Deloitte, a company that specializes in tax and financial consulting, among other professional services.
The building produces its own energy using solar panels on the roof and south-facing wall, which is enough to power the entire building making it energy neutral. OVG, the developer of the building partnered with the University of Amsterdam and the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences to install 4,100 square metres of solar panels on the roof. The roof of the building has a floor-to-floor scanner that detects when rooms are not being used. If rooms are unoccupied, the lights and conditioning systems are automatically turned off to conserve electricity.
Peter Bommel, CEO of Deloitte in the Netherlands said on The Edge, “When it came to identifying our new headquarters in Amsterdam, we wanted to ensure that our building not only had the right sustainability credentials but was also a real innovative and inspiring place to work for our employees.”
Lighting, heating, cooling, and ventilation in an office building account for about 60 per cent of energy consumption in the United States. To become self-sustaining, The Edge uses the water from an aquifer 130 metres below the building to regulate the temperature. In peak times the solar panels produce heat that is used to warm water, which is pumped from one storage unit in the aquifer to the other in a process called “thermal energy storage.”
The building is located in Amsterdam, which happens to be one of the leaders of ecotourism in the Netherlands. The Dutch population is highly conscious about their carbon footprint, and the vast majority of people find alternative ways to commute other than driving, like walking, using pedal-powered boats, and the most popular form of transportation—cycling. About 75 per cent of transportation comes from bicycles with more than twice as many bike owners than car owners.
To accommodate bicyclists and environmentally-friendly vehicles, there are 500 bicycle spaces and electric car plugins below the building.
The Edge received an “outstanding” rating with a score of 98.36 per cent from BREEAM, a building assessment agency, which rates the environmental footprint from buildings. Since 1990, BREEAM has assessed over 425,000 buildings and The Edge has been the leading building for environmental sustainability with the highest score ever recorded.
Coen Van Oostrom, the CEO of OVG, said on their website, “Sustainability is about more than a great sustainability rating. It is also about a building’s overall comfort and efficiency for its occupiers, so that they can operate with ease in a productive and healthy environment.”
Another sustainably-focused feature of the building is rainwater collection from the roof to supply bathrooms and water the plants around the building.
The Edge is a testament to how an office building can be completely self-sustaining, with the potential to revolutionize the way buildings produce and consume energy and water.