Advanced sustainability in a high-tech lab environment
- Scheme & Version: BREEAM International
- Stage: Final
- Location: Belgium
- Score & Rating: 85.92%-Outstanding
- Certificate Number: BREEAM-0066-4847
- Client: KU Leuven , VITO , imec and UHasselt
- Assessor Company: Daidalos Peutz Bouwfysisch Ingenieurs Bureau
- Architects: Kemp Thill
Why did the building undergo BREEAM certification?
Campus EnergyVille is located at the former mining site of Waterschei (Genk) and houses the research facilities of EnergyVille, a collaboration between the Flemish research partners KU Leuven, VITO, imec and UHasselt in the field of sustainable energy and intelligent energy systems. EnergyVille 1, the first building where the research collaboration is located, represents an integrated research centre which combines both office spaces and state-of-the-art lab facilities. It was designed by the internationally acknowledged firm of architects, Kempe Thill, and is an energy-efficient building.
The building was officially inaugurated on 22 September 2016 and encompasses all the facilities a top research institute needs. It functions as a unique living lab with advanced lab infrastructure in which 300 employees work in an interdisciplinary way. The ultimate aim is to create an efficient way of consuming and managing energy while reaching a very high level of comfort for building users.
From the start the EnergyVille 1 building saw sustainability as a priority, not only by selecting a sustainable energy management system, but also by making sustainable choices with regard to materials, mobility, waste management, etc. Applying for a BREEAM certification was therefore a logical step to take to affirm this.
The research coonducted at EnergyVille focusses sustainable energy and intelligent energy systems, therefore sustainability is embedded in its DNA. The headquarters was intended to be a showcase of sustainability from the very start of its conception, with the aim to achieve the highest possible BREEAM rating.
The juxtaposition of carrying out research into sustainable energy on an old coal mining site symbolizes the energy transition currently taking place. However, EnergyVille wanted to emphasize that sustainability is not just an energy issue. Wellbeing of employees and the ecological value of the surroundings are also deemed very important and were included in the BREEAM assessment.
The BREEAM certificate provided a common goal for all partners involved in the broad construction process.
Location is a determining factor for the sustainability of a building. EnergyVille wants to be the centre of an ecosystem for research, business development and jobs in the Thor science park, without disturbing the natural ecosystems. The impact of the building on the ecosystems in the area was therefore examined in advance by a specialized ecologist, with measures put in place to protect nature in the neighbourhood. By using a previously used site, no new land had to be touched. During the construction process, sufficient attention was also paid to the protection of the natural elements present. For example, large trees along the access road were protected and noise pollution during the birds breeding season was avoided as much as possible.
Before construction even began, extensive research was conducted into how the EnergyVille site could be reached most easily by its future users. Accessibility is good due to the urban location of Genk which has a train station with direct connections to other major cities and a network of bus lines. There is a bus stop within walking distance of the main building. EnergyVille also encourages employees and visitors to use alternative forms of transport. For example, there are sufficient bicycle parking spaces with lockers, with showers provided in the building. Sufficient attention was also paid to the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. An example of this is the clear marking of the bicycle lane in the underground floor, which is not interrupted by a route for cars.
A lot of attention was paid to waste during construction. The amount of waste was reduced as much as possible by, among other things, limiting packaging material. The waste that was produced was sorted very accurately in order to greatly limit the amount of residual waste. Also in the design of the building, the waste was taken into account, by a special space provided for the sorting of the waste. The building users actively contribute to this, by using the separate waste bins in the office areas.
An extensive monitoring system makes it possible to quickly identify and cope with problems. An extensive monitoring system makes it possible to quickly identify and cope with problems.
In the EnergyVille building its users are key. All office zones of the building are situated close to the façade. The large windows provide sufficient light. The risk that such large windows can cause disturbing light on computer screens is limited by automatically controlled sun protection, which can also be operated manually. This sun protection also limits the risk of overheating. The large windows ensure, in addition to sufficient daylight, an open view on the surroundings. The building users are therefore invited to look away from their computer screen and give their eyes a break. For slightly longer breaks, the roof terrace can be used, with a beautiful view of the surrounding landscape.
In addition to the natural daylight, artificial lighting was designed with sustainability in mind. In order to optimize the amount of light in the building. Dialux calculations were performed for all relevant areas. The lighting is chosen in such a way that disturbing light flickering is avoided. The lighting is controlled automatically, but can also be adjusted by the users themselves.
Benefits of assessing to BREEAM
BREEAM as overall sustainability framework emphasizes the field of research for EnergyVille. The attention for reduction of energy consumption of the building was logic from the start, but BREEAM certification offered a broader approach.
The location on the former mine site with amenities in the surroundings and public distance within acceptable distance proved its value, together with the beautiful natural surroundings that were preserved to the maximum, also during construction works.
Offering a healthy work environment for the EnergyVille employees, with attention for their wellbeing, was also of key importance for the EnergyVille headquarters.