NET ZERO CARBON: BUILDINGS

This week is the third part of a series that I am doing looking into Net Zero carbon and how this can be achieved by 2050.

There was a report that came out in October 2020 called “Fit for Net-Zero: 55 Tech Quests to Accelerate Europe’s Recovery and Pave the Way to Climate Neutrality.” I thought the report was really good, so over the last couple of weeks I have been picking out my personal highlights from the different sections that made up the report.

Net Zero Carbon – Solutions for Buildings

I was amazed to learn that more than 40% of all residential buildings in Europe were constructed before 1960, when energy efficiency and other regulations were very limited. Equally important is the fact that 75% of today’s building stock will still exist in 2050. This makes renovation to the existing building stock a priority if Europe is to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

One solution that the report recommends is a deep renovation of residential buildings. The current rate of building renovations in Europe is 0.2%, which is too low to meet the demands of reaching net zero by 2050.

The report recommends to massively replicate successful renovation programs and regional initiatives at scale, using standard methodologies and industrialized components to reduce investment per m2.

This is a powerful solution, with the potential to avoid 139.3 MtCO₂e by 2050 and create 2,109,000 jobs over the same time period.

The next solution highlighted in the report was developing next generation equipment to increase the performance of deep renovations.

The up-front cost of new technologies in insulation and building renovations are too high and are proving to be prohibitive. The report suggests boosting the development of early technologies improving insulation and renovation performance with new standardised materials and high-performing electric equipment at lower costs.

Technologies that they recommend for additional support include the following:

  • Bio-aerogel panels integrated with PCM
  • PV vacuum glazing windows
  • Roof and window heat recovery devices
  • Solar-assisted heat pumps
  • Ground source heat pumps
  • Evaporative coolers
  • Integrated solar thermal/PV
  • Systems and lighting devices

All of these systems can benefit from extensive prefabrication off site and so can arrive at residential settings ready for installation.

This was another powerful suggestion, that has the potential to avoid 61.9 MtCO₂e by 2050 and create 211,000 jobs over the same time period.                                                                                                                                           The next solution that stood out was automating, digitizing and streamlining construction processes and methods for renovations and new builds. This is yo address the major problem of the slow uptake of modern, efficient digital construction processes.

The report’s solution is to demonstrate the benefits of various technologies using five clusters and coordination between the clusters to spread skills in a collaborative way.

Digital solutions that the report identifies as being able to provide carbon savings include the following:

  • Scan to BIM using Lidar or drones, etc.
  • BIM 6D features to integrate lifecycle information.
  • Integration of BIM data with building sensors to improve energy and indoor environmental performance.
  • EnerBIM/BIMsolar solutions which integrate solar panels sizing with ROI information.
  • Open BIM approaches to ease software interoperability, as promoted by BuildingSMART at the global level.
  • Digital twin technology for at least five projects, inspired by SPHERE project which gathers 20 partners from 10 EU countries (target -25% GHG emissions, -25% construction time).
  • Digital building pass gathering all key information on the building lifecycle (like CN BIM).

This cluster of solutions has the potential to avoid 121.3 MtCO₂e and create 211,000 jobs by 2050.

The final solution that stood out was a programme of massive electrification of heat with low cost heat pumps. This is to address the problem that heat pumps have a higher upfront investment requirement than gas boilers. Their solution is to industrialize heat pump manufacturing to decrease investment requirements.

Their concept is to build 36 heat pump megafactories by 2030, each with ~150,000 units per year capacity. This scheme will also require support through funding schemes, subsidies, or tax reductions.

This is a powerful solution with the potential to avoid 481.4 MtCO₂e and create 604,000 jobs by 2050.

What you need to know

This article was the third part in a series looking into the top breakthrough technologies from the recently released Fit For Net Zero report. This week was the turn of looking into the solutions for buildings.

A lot of the solutions for buildings were already covered in the industry section, but there were a lot of good solutions in this part of the report.

With buildings accounting for around 40% of EU energy use of which about half is required for heating and cooling, action taken in this arena will decide whether the EU is able to mount an adequate response to climate change.

The positive news is that there are lots of solutions. Some of which require government support to encourage their adoption, others are market ready and should be adopted by companies working in the built environment sector out of self-interest.

Many low carbon solutions also have the potential to create enormous numbers of well-paid jobs, which could be an extra contributing factor in government support for decarbonisation of this sector.  

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done to make net zero 2050 a reality?

 Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

NET ZERO CARBON: INDUSTRY

This week is the second part of a series that I am doing looking into net zero carbon and how this can be achieved by 2050.

There was a report that came out in October 2020 called “Fit for Net-Zero: 55 Tech Quests to Accelerate Europe’s Recovery and Pave the Way to Climate Neutrality.” I thought the report was really good, so over the next couple of weeks I will be picking out my personal highlights from the different sections that made up the report.

Net Zero Carbon – Industrial Solutions

Within the EU, industry is responsible for 30% or 1,201 MtCO of greenhouse gas emissions. This is generated by energy use, such as burning fossil fuels to obtain high-grade or low-grade heat or using non-renewable electricity. There are other direct emissions from processes, such as the chemical reaction involved with cement production, which generates CO₂ as a by-product.

Achieving a low carbon industry is of paramount importance if the EU wants to make a successful response to tackling climate change.

The first solution that stood out was to reduce the need for concrete thanks to better design and alternative concrete for equivalent usages. Cement production accounts for around 2% of global CO₂ emissions. Low-carbon alternatives exist but thus far have not broken out and penetrated major markets yet.

The solution proposed is to boost the use of biobased concrete, starting with 10,000 tons in 2030. The impact of this would be to avoid 5.9 MtCO₂e by 2050 and create 126,000 jobs by the same time period.

The next solution to stand out was another cement solution. This was to replace the use of concrete with carbon sink materials in new buildings. The construction of new buildings can be a carbon intensive process, with high carbon materials and high energy needs for transportation and operation of plant and equipment.

The solution is to upscale alternative comprehensive construction materials and approaches, using electric equipment, geothermal energy and green areas. The aim is to build 500 buildings in each European country by 2025 using low GHG-intensity materials and construction methods, with construction materials split between wood and low-GHG emitting cement. This solution has the potential to avoid 42.8 MtCO₂e by 250 and create 3,753,000 jobs over the same time period.

Next to stand out was another cement focussed solution, highlighting the importance of decarbonising this industry. This is to reduce the share of portland clinker in cement and develop new alternative clinkers.

As already mentioned, cement production accounts for 2% of EU CO₂ emissions, and processes (excluding energy emissions) from clinker production alone are responsible for 66% of those emissions.

This solution involves replacing clinker with substitutes (less clinker per unit of cement), which can reduce emissions by 18%. There are also alternative clinkers (to replace the classic Portland clinker) which can achieve a 17% cut in CO₂ emissions. This solution could have a big impact, by helping to avoid 6.8 MtCO₂e and create 78,000 jobs by 2030.

Next up was another cement focussed solution. This involves industrializing the use of carbon capture and usage to deliver ultra-low carbon cement production.

The calcination phase in the cement industry is responsible for 66% of cement emissions. This solution involves capturing unavoidable process emissions and reusing the CO₂ in industries such as concrete or petrochemicals.

The aim is to scale up and industrialize carbon capture at cement kilns and CO₂ usage in the cement and concrete industry to capture 14% of cement production emissions by 2030 and 56% by 2050. This could also have big impact, by helping to avoid 4.9 MtCO₂e and create 16,000 jobs in 2030.

The next solution which stood out related to refrigerants. This involves reducing the GHG impact of refrigerants.

The issue is that to achieve the phase-out of EU HFC (hexafluorocarbons) by 2030 requires further support, especially in the development of alternative refrigerants. To solve this problem requires a program to support industries to use new low-GHG refrigerants.

If acted upon, this could have a significant impact, in helping to avoid 87.1 MtCO₂e by 2050 and create 53,000 jobs by 2050.

What you need to know

This article was the second part in a series looking into the top breakthrough technologies from the recently released Fit For Net Zero report. This week was the turn of looking into the industrial solutions.

As we can see, the cement industry is a real hotspot of carbon emissions. But it is positive to see a lot of solutions coming to the forefront to help to reduce the carbon intensity of this sector.

Then refrigeration is also a significant hotspot of carbon emissions and more work is required to reduce the carbon intensity of this activity.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done to make net zero 2050 a reality?

 Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

NET ZERO CARBON: ENERGY

This week is the first part of a series that I will be doing looking into net zero carbon and how this can be achieved by 2050.

There was a report that came out in October 2020 called “Fit for Net-Zero: 55 Tech Quests to Accelerate Europe’s Recovery and Pave the Way to Climate Neutrality.” I thought the report was excellent, so over the next couple of weeks I will pick out my personal highlights from the report.

Net Zero Carbon – Energy Solutions

There is no pathway to net zero carbon by 2050 that does not involve significant decarbonisation of the energy sector.

The report’s energy section opens with an ominous statistic on performance in Europe:

In 2017, fossil fuels still accounted for 73% of Europe’s energy consumption, with renewables at just 14% (despite their rapid recent growth), followed by nuclear at 13%.”

This shows just how much work there is to be done to transform the energy sector.

The first energy technology that was highlighted was giga-scale manufacturing capacities of new generation solar modules. This involves building gigafactories based on perovskite and III-V multi-junction high efficiency cells by 2030.

In layman’s terms, the efficiency of crystalline silicon cells is reaching its technical limits. There is also the problem that in the last 15 years, China has produced most of the world’s solar PV. So this would present an opportunity for bringing new jobs to Europe.

This was ranked as a very powerful solution, as it is estimated that by 2030 37.9 MtCO₂e could be avoided and by 2050 253.2 MtCO₂e could be avoided.

The next solution was another solar power innovation, this involves generating 30% more electricity per m2 with bifacial solar panels. This would help to solve a pressing problem, in that current PV efficiency reaches its limits and its deployment can be hampered by land use constraints.

This solution would make a big difference as bifacial solar plants harvest light reflected from the ground via the Albedo effect to increase efficiency by 9% and generate up to 40% more power when combined with tracking systems.

Despite what from the outside seems like a simple solution, it is estimated that by 2030 18.9 MtCO₂e could be avoided and by 2050 162.5 MtCO₂e could be avoided.

The next solution was more large-scale floating offshore wind. Projects developed to support this goal could unlock 80% of Europe’s offshore wind potential through a rapid scale-up of new generation floating wind structures.

This would help to solve a significant problem that the nearshore shallow seas are already saturated with industrial activities, while 80% of Europe’s offshore wind resource potential is located in water more than 60 m deep, which is too deep for conventional offshore wind installations.

The solution is for large scale floating wind turbine projects to drive down costs on offshore wind farms. This would have a big impact in helping to avoid 48.6 MtCO₂e by 2030 and 331.1 MtCO₂e by 2050. Amazingly, it is also anticipated that it could support 1,278,000 total jobs by 2050.

The next solution which stood out to me was 24/7  availability of electricity from combined solar generation, storage and grid. The idea is to build a trans-Mediterranean grid and electricity daytime baseload with Concentrated Solar Power (CSP).

This helps to solve the problem that solar plants provide only intermittent power, which is not solved with Li-ion battery storage that only provide one to four hours of storage. The solution proposed is for Large scale CSP in EU and North Africa with AC-DC grid, with 15-18 hours storage to provide base production (90-100% load factor) at €50/ MWh in 2030.

This ambitious solution showed that 30 MtCO₂e could be avoided by 2030 and 66.4 MtCO₂e could be avoided by 2050.

What you need to know  

This article was the first part in a series looking into the top breakthrough technologies from the recently released Fit For Net Zero report. This week was the turn of looking into the energy solutions.

Energy is a key enabler of a net zero carbon future, as it is very hard to have net zero carbon transportation or buildings without it.

On the negatiove side, a lot of time has been wasted, and there is still much to do to decarbonise this sector.

On the positive side, there is an alignment of breakthrough technologies, commercial interests and government support, that should allow this sector to make significant strides in decarbonisation between now and the key 2030 and 2050 milestones.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done to make net zero 2050 a reality?

 Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

3 REASONS WHY I AM OPTIMISTIC ABOUT A TRANSITION TO PLANT-RICH DIETS

Today is World Vegan Day so I thought I would write something about plant-rich diets and why I am increasingly optimistic about what I am seeing happening.

Rudy’s Reuben – seitan pastrami sandwich

1) Tasty meat free alternatives

If you want to encourage new people to pursue plant-based diets or to encourage people to reduce their meat and dairy consumption, you need to have tasty alternatives to pique people’s interest. Then when they try the plant-based alternatives, they need to be flavoursome.

The truth is, that in the past, many plant-based meat alternatives were poor imitations of their meat counterparts. They would either be lacking in taste or texture or both. This led to ridicule and meant that only those who were most committed to pursuing a plant-based diet would buy and eat these items.

Thankfully, those days are over. Nowadays, whether in the supermarket aisle or on your local high street, you are never far away from a tasty plant-based meal.

2) Corporate self interest

Its hard to believe, but the two big players Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat were only founded in 2011 and 2012 respectively. In what is only a short period of time, they have both grown significantly and helped to raise the quality and profile of plant-based meat alternatives.

The real holy grail of the vegan and vegetarian food sector is to attract the significant number of meat eaters and to get them to eat pant based alternatives, rather than targeting products at the vegan and vegetarian community.

Interestingly, this Clean Technica article showed that sales of Impossible Burgers are displacing animal-derived foods for 72% of total purchases. This is really encouraging and shows that the problems of the past were likely a combination of poor marketing and a low-quality product offering, which meant that the meat alternatives of the past were not able to secure any traction in the much larger market of meat eaters.

There has been lots of other activity in this sector. Whether it is Unilever’s acquisition of Dutch brand The Vegetarian Butcher, or KFC launching their own Vegan burger, 2019 and 2020 has seen a massive increase in corporate activity in the vegan and vegetarian food sector.

3) Increasing environmental awareness

There is no doubt that some of the increasing interest in plant-based alternatives is being driven by a heightened environmental awareness amongst the general population.

For a long time, people associated, driving, flying and the use of electricity with their personal carbon footprint. But now with tools like WWF’s personal carbon footprint calculator, everyone has the opportunity to find out that when it comes to climate change, we very much are what we eat.

Project Drawdown ranked plant-rich diets as the third most powerful solution that is required to reduce carbon emissions, so there can be no doubt about the importance of decarbonisation in this sector.

What you need to know

This article looked into 3 reasons why I am optimistic about a transition to plant rich diets.

Firstly, the quantity and quality of plant based alternatives has increased dramatically of late.

Secondly, whether thanks to early adopters or late comers who don’t want to miss out, there is now a significant amount if corporate activity that is leading to continuous improvement in plant based alternatives.

Lastly, wherever people are getting their information from, it is encouraging that more people are aware of the link between their diet and climate change. This isn’t something which is going away any time soon and so hopefully this awareness can result in real and meaningful change over the long term

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think is the most exciting development in plant based alternatives?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

THE WORLD’S GREENEST BUILDINGS #10

This article is the tenth and final part of a multi-part series, where I have been looking into the world’s greenest buildings. It is based off the book of the same name by Yudelson and Meyer.

I found the book to be hugely inspirational when I read it, and it comes highly recommended form me. If this shortlist of my 10 favourites has whetted your appetite, I strongly recommend that you get yourself a copy. Despite being published in 2013, there is still a lot of good ideas and strategies to create sustainable buildings to be found inside.

Zero Energy Building, Building and Construction Authority

This week we will be looking at the aptly named Zero Energy Building, which is occupied by the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore.

This building stood out for its stunning focus on creating a zero energy building in the tropics and for the integration of a number of passive and active features to help make this possible.

Like other buildings that made it into the book, you only get results like this if sustainability is a primary focus at the outset. The occupier, the Singapore Building and Construction Authority is the government agency responsible for delivering on the nation’s 2030 green building targets. So it was important for their flagship development to have the strongest sustainability credentials possible.

It was the first net-zero energy building in Singapore and in terms of domestic certifications, it was awarded the Singapore Green Mark Platinum certification.

Three passive design strategies were used to minimise energy demand, these include minimizing heat transmittance into the building, bringing daylighting deep into the space and the use of natural ventilation techniques.

Gazing was also a primary focus, to reduce energy demand. Several types were used as the building was being used as a laboratory for technologies that were at the time extremely new. Sadly, years later, many new buildings are being designed and built without these technologies being added to them.

The multiple glazing technologies deployed on the Zero Energy building include: electrochromic glass, building integrated PV, double glazed units and clear double glazed units. There has been significant development in all of these areas recently and they are all deserving of a dedicated article in themselves.

Three daylighting techniques used include mirror ducts, light shelves and light pipes. These all serve to maximise the amount of natural light that is available within the building, so that less electricity is required for lighting.

These integrate nicely with the active features, which automatically adjust the lighting intensity according to daylighting levels. Additionally, smart lighting sensors throughout the building ensure that artificial lighting is only used in rooms when they are occupied.

The building comes equipped with 1,540 sq m of photovoltaic panels, which are mounted both to the roof and to the façade. Amazingly, these arrays generate 203,000 kWh per year, which thanks to the incredible efficiency of the building, is more electricity than the building consumes. This allows the building to feed excess electricity to the grid and is why this is a real zero energy building.

All of the active and passive techniques combined mean that the building is able to report an energy intensity of only 41 kWh/sq m. But when its domestic electricity production is taken into account, which is 45 kWh/sq m, we can see that the building in fact has an energy surplus with the grid.

What you need to know   

This article is the final part in a multi-part series where I have been picking out my favourite buildings from Yudelson and Meyer’s book The World’s Most Sustainable Buildings.

Today was the turn of looking at the Zero Energy Building in Singapore. Without intending to, I saved my favourite for last.

This building is remarkable for its incredibly low energy intensity and for its domestic energy production, allowing it to be self-sufficient. This is particularly remarkable in the tropics, where the high temperatures ordinarily result in high air conditioning loads and associated energy intensity.  

There is a lot that can be learned today in late 2020 from studying the Zero Energy Building in Singapore.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think makes a building a sustainable building?

 Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

THE WORLD’S GREENEST BUILDINGS #9

This article is the ninth part of a multi-part series looking into the world’s greenest buildings. It is based off the book of the same name by Yudelson and Meyer. The book came out in 2013, but I still think that a lot can be learnt from the examples contained within it.

As the image below demonstrates, there are some highly sustainable and architecturally stunning buildings in this shortlist, that can act as an inspiration for current and future developments.

School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University

This week we will be looking at the School of Art, Design and Media building at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

This building stood out for its stunning incorporation into its surroundings, to such an extent that from some angles it is completely hidden.

Like other establishments in this shortlist, a primary driver behind the focus on sustainability was to inspire the students and employees who pass through the building during its lifecycle.

In terms of accreditations, the building received a Green Mark Platinum in Singapore’s national benchmark for sustainable buildings. This is the highest accreditation possible.

One of the guiding principles when designing the building was to create a “non-building building.” This led to the concept of hiding the building within the landscape and under green roofs in order to preserve the maximum amount of green space for the campus.

The green roof is the centrepiece, which the whole building was designed and built around. It is accessible by stairs and is illuminated after dark. During the day, it is so successful that it serves as a gathering space for students.

In terms of water efficiency, to keep the grass alive, it receives water from an irrigation system that is harvested from rainwater.

There are a number of other noteworthy sustainability features in this building. There is a high efficiency air conditioning system and there are motion sensors for lights, with high efficiency light fittings throughout. There is also a passive feature, whereby, the building is oriented with its long axis facades facing North and South to maximise solar gain.

All these features combine to allow the building to report an energy intensity of 134.8 kWh/sq m/year.

What you need to know   

This article is the ninth part in a multi-part series where I am picking out my favourite buildings from Yudelson and Meyer’s book The World’s Most Sustainable Buildings.

Today was the turn of looking at the School of Art, Design and Media building at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

This building stood out for its green roof, which is the best I have ever seen. There are also a number of other active and passive systems, that allow it to report an extremely low energy intensity. This is especially impressive for a building in the tropics, which would ordinarily have significant cooling costs.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think makes a building a sustainable building?

 Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

THE WORLD’S GREENEST BUILDINGS #8

This article is the eighth part of a multi-part series looking into the world’s greenest buildings. It is based off the book of the same name by Yudelson and Meyer. The book came out in 2013 and was based on buildings that had been created before that date and could provide a years’ worth of utility data. Despite this, there is still a lot that can be learned from these buildings and best practices in sustainable design that can be made standard practice.

Keio University Hiyoshi Campus Fourth Building, Yokahama

This week we will be looking at the Keio University Hiyoshi Campus Fourth Building in Yokahama, Japan.

This building stood out for its commitment to place making. Buildings have the opportunity of being a destination in themselves, but they also have the opportunity of uplifting and contributing to the enhancement of their surroundings.

I don’t know if the name got lost in translation, but it is a bit dull. Despite this, the building looks excellent and has a number of interesting sustainability features that allow it to produce superior performance.

Like a lot of the buildings on this shortlist, it was designed with an atrium. This is maintained with stack effect ventilation and wind-driven ventilation, which provides a continuous flow of air with minimal use of fossil fuels. In winter it is sufficient to close the skylight ventilation windows to maintain a comfortable temperature in the atrium.

During the course of the development, the project removed a 8m high retaining wall that previously divided the campus. Removing this created a significant open space that has benefited the town greatly.

The project created further space, which is open to the public and is lined with newly planted trees. When creating the boundary for this new area, demolition arisings from the building that was previously there was used in the new construction.

The building was also designed with vertical double louvers. These work to abate the late afternoon sun to prevent mechanical cooling of the building and also reduce noise and increase privacy for the academic institution.

The building is equipped with a whole host of water efficient features, that includes automatic faucets, low flow faucets and sensor systems. The building captures the rainwater from the large roof area and uses this for the toilets and urinals.

The building is also equipped with a heat recovery ventilation system, this reduces the outdoor air thermal load and contributes to its strong energy performance.

In terms of overall energy performance, all of the passive and technological features combine to allow the building to report an energy intensity of 158 kWh/sq m.

What you need to know   

This article is the eighth part in a multi-part series where I am picking out my favourite buildings from Yudelson and Meyer’s book The World’s Most Sustainable Buildings.

Today was the turn of looking at the Keio University Hiyoshi Campus Fourth Building in Yokahama, Japan.

This building has delivered a very strong environmental performance and contributed to the uplifting of its surroundings. Place making is a challenge that many developments struggle with, but this university buildings has managed to make a great success of this.

In terms of looks, I think that the building has a very striking look, that is appealing. There is a good combination of features that all contribute to its low energy intensity.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think makes a building a sustainable building?

 Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

THE WORLD’S GREENEST BUILDINGS #7

This article is the seventh part of a multi-part series looking into the world’s greenest buildings. It is based off the book of the same name by Yudelson and Meyer. I learned a lot from reading the book, there are a lot of best practices out there that have yet to become commonplace.

Eawag Forum Chriesbach, Dubendorf

This week we will be looking at the Eawag Forum Chriesbach building in Dubendorf in Switzerland.

This building stood out for its integrated design, where a number of complementary technologies were used to create a building with outstanding levels of performance.

The building is occupied by Eawag, which is the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology. Like most of the buildings on this shortlist, sustainability and wellbeing were front and centre in the decision making process when the building was being designed.

The corridors are 3 times as wide as normal corridors and were designed as spaces where collaboration and spontaneous conversations can take place.

One of the things that I found most eye catching about the building was its façade. Even though the building is box like in nature, this is more than compensated with by the stunning façade. This shimmering aqua façade changes in appearance depending on the light conditions. Various styles were tested and the one that was chosen was selected because it optimised daylighting and thermal gain. The louvers in the façade move to follow the sun during the day and can be set to allow more sunlight in in the winter and less in in summer.

Like quite a few buildings on the shortlist, the building uses an atrium to regulate temperatures and air flow within the building. In the winter, the building uses energy to heat the offices and other permanently used rooms, but not the circulation spaces in the buffer zone. The atrium is warmed by the sun and by the areas surrounding it with no added energy. In summer, the building is cooled using night flush ventilation.

In general, there are few areas within the building that require mechanical heating. The building was designed in such a way that solar and geothermal gains and internal heating loads such as people, lighting and computers provide enough warmth for most areas.

In terms of electricity, there is a solar PV system on the roof that provides one third of the building’s electricity use, excluding that used for the computer servers.

As the institute that occupies the building is concerned with matters to do with water, there was a desire to create a building that pioneered new techniques in water efficiency. This includes water free urinals, NoMix toilets to separate waste streams. This makes treatment easier for wastewater treatment plants. Rainwater is collected from the roof to reduce potable water demand, to such an extent that it is only required for the kitchen, water fountains and hand washing. Next to the building, there is a rain garden that stores rainwater that is collected from the green roof.

I had not heard of the term rain garden before, but it looks like a really interesting feature that can help to improve biodiversity and to manage rainwater runoff from hard surfaces. I found a really good article by Eawag the occupier of the building in question, which you can find here. I also found a very informative article by the RHS, which you can find here.

Overall, in terms of performance, all of the different solutions that we have looked into allow the building to rely on an energy intensity of 98 kWh/sq m, which is very impressive. Then in terms of water, the building relies on 152 l/sq m.

What you need to know   

This article is the seventh part in a multi-part series where I am picking out my favourite buildings from Yudelson and Meyer’s book The World’s Most Sustainable Buildings.

Today was the turn of looking at the Eawag Forum Chriesbach building in Dubendorf in Switzerland.

This building makes use of a range of technologies, some commonplace, some innovative, but integrates them to create a highly successful sustainable building.

In terms of architecture, I think It is very impressive to look at, the façade in particular is extremely eye catching.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think makes a building a sustainable building?

 Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

THE WORLD’S GREENEST BUILDINGS #6

This article is the sixth part of a multi-part series looking into the world’s greenest buildings. It is based off the book of the same name by Yudelson and Meyer. I thought the book was excellent, if you are interested in sustainable buildings, I would definitely recommend that you buy and read this book.

TNT Centre, Hoofddorp

This week we will be looking at the TNT Centre in Hoodfddorp, in the Netherlands.

This building stood out for the emphasis the owners placed on connectivity and energy positivity.

The scheme was recognized for its efforts, scoring Platinum in the LEED rating system and achieving a score of 1,005 in the Dutch GreenCalc+ system. It is worth pointing out that in this system buildings with a score of 750 or more achieve the highest energy label category A+++, showing that this is a highly sustainable building.

The building possesses a large atrium, which forms the central meeting space. It is oriented to allow daylight to penetrate the atrium. Within the atrium stepped terraces encourage building users to walk between floors rather than using the elevators.

The building is designed with a fully glazed north façade, whereas the south façade is half closed to prevent overheating in summer.

In terms of occupant wellbeing, smart blinds, zero emission materials and natural ventilation provide a pleasant indoor environment.

The energy system developed for this building stood out for being creative and highly effective. This is comprised of a long-term energy storage system, a biofuel combined heat and power plant and solar panels. The synchronised combination of these three technologies allows the building to be energy positive, distributing surplus heat to other buildings nearby.

This allows the building to report a very impressive energy intensity of 97.8 kWh/sq m.

What you need to know   

This article is the sixth part in a multi-part series where I am picking out my favourite buildings from Yudelson and Meyer’s book The World’s Most Sustainable Buildings.

Today was the turn of looking at the TNT Centre in Hoodfddorp, in the Netherlands.  

This building stood out for its great success in creating a workspace that connects its occupants and for creating a building that is energy positive, to the extent it has a surplus that it can supply to nearby buildings.

I also thought that the exterior and interior design was eye catching, proving that highly sustainable buildings can look good too.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

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