- Post Construction Certification Pending
- Strive for Excellence
A sustainable research institute asks for a sustainable building. The EnergyVille 1 building has made a lot of effort to be as sustainable as possible. Energy has of course always been a very important aspect, but sustainability is more than solely energy. Therefore we chose from the very beginning to go for a BREEAM certificate, with BREEAM being the world’s leadings sustainability assessment method for master planning projects, infrastructure and buildings.
- Start date: November 2013
- End date: June 2016
EnergyVille conducts research on intelligent energy systems for a sustainable urban environment. The head office of EnergyVille had to communicate that message. Since the initial ideas for the building saw the light, general sustainability came first and we decided to apply for a BREEAM certificate. BREEAM is a globally recognized sustainability label with 5 possible scores: Pass – Good – Very Good – Excellent and Outstanding. The process for the BREEAM certificate of the finished building is currently still ongoing, but we hope to achieve an excellent assessment.
BREEAM looks at sustainability from different angles. These angles or themes are management, health and well-being, energy, transport, water, materials, waste, pollution and land use & ecology. In addition, innovative aspects are additionally validated. With the conception of the EnergyVille building attention was paid to all of these themes.
Sustainability was also an important aspect in the choice of contractors. The selected contractors worked according to a specific code of conduct and the management of the construction site happened with attention to the necessary environmental and social aspects. An example of this are the facilities for the workers and the preparation of the necessary guidelines in the native language of all construction workers present.
Location is a determining factor for the sustainability of a building. EnergyVille wants to be the center 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 neighborhood. By using a previously used site, no new land has to be touched. During the construction process, sufficient thought was also given to the protection of the natural elements present. For example, large trees along the access road were protected and noise pollution during the breeding season of the birds was avoided as much as possible.
Due to the location of EnergyVille in the Thor park, building users can also make use of the existing facilities in the neighborhood. The functions integrated in Thor Central therefore didn’t have to be provided in the EnergyVille building itself.
The location is also very important for transportation. Even before the first stone was laid, extensive research was conducted into how the EnergyVille site of 15.022 m² could be reached most easily by its future users. The urban context of Genk with a train station with direct connections to other major cities and a network of bus lines ensures the accessibility of EnergyVille by public transport. There is, after all, a bus stop within walking distance of the main building. EnergyVille also encourages users to use alternative forms of transport. For example, there are sufficient bicycle parking spaces with lockers and the sports enthusiasts also have the opportunity to shower in the building. Of course, 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.
Specific places have been provided for carpool cars in the parking lot, as a result of which the number of free spaces for single car users is severely limited and even smaller than the number of bicycle places. In addition, electric driving is supported by the presence of a few charging stations in the parking space and the possibility to extend this relatively easily to all parking spaces.
A building by users for users
A sustainable building is a building in which the users like to stay. In the EnergyVille building much attention was paid to its users, from the very first stages of the design. Not only the building users but also other stakeholders, such as the city council of Genk, were involved. Some study visits were organized during construction.
The other stakeholders were and still are involved even after completion. Information about the building is freely available and a guided tour for visitors has been worked out in the building. During this tour, the visitor can also read interesting information about the building on the information screens, such as the real-time energy generation of the PV system on the roof.
All office zones of the EnergyVille building are situated close to the façade. The large windows provide sufficient light, which was supported by daylight calculations. The risk that such large windows can cause disturbing light on the screen 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, a nice view of the surroundings. The building users are therefore invited to look away from their computer screen and thus give their eyes some peace of mind. For slightly longer breaks, use can be made of the roof terrace, located between the PV installation referring to the function of the building, with a beautiful view of the surrounding landscape.
In addition to the natural daylight, the artificial lighting was designed in the context of sustainability as well. To optimize the entire lighting, Dialux calculations were performed for all relevant areas. The placed 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.
Acoustics were also thought of. Specific requirements were set on the partition walls and acoustic plaster was used in different rooms. Attention was paid to the acoustic qualities of the furniture as well. After completing the building, the acoustics were tested in practice and found to be good.
In addition to lighting and acoustics, thermal comfort is another important factor. To predict that thermal comfort a dynamic simulation was made beforehand, which showed the thermal comfort to be within the pre-set limits. The building user can make adjustments to the heating and cooling to suit their needs. In order to familiarize the user with the installations of the building, a building user guide was developed tailored to the building user.
The indoor air quality of the building contributes to the well-being of the user. The office zones are equipped with windows that can be opened, but the ventilation is done mechanically and conforms to NBN EN 13779, with air quality class IDA 2 for the office zones and IDA 3 for the other rooms. In order to contribute to air quality, the finishing material was specifically chosen to have low emissions of volatile organic compounds. For the domestic hot water, the risk of legionella was limited by studying the best available techniques.
Limited impact on the environment
Lighting and acoustics are not only important in the building, but also outside. The noise coming from the building and its installations was tested and meets the requirements. To reduce light pollution, the outdoor lighting of the EnergyVille building is limited. The few outdoor lighting that is available is controlled by a timer so that it is automatically turned off when appropriate.
In addition to light and noise pollution, other building-related pollution is reduced as much as possible. For example, NOx emissions from heating are limited. This of course is closely related to the energy consumption of the building. To limit the energy consumption, extensive insulation was installed and a lot of attention was paid to airtightness. In the choice of materials for the building, materials with a good environmental score were picked, based on the green guide specification, for instance when using wood attention was paid to responsible sourcing.
The heating requirements of the building are met by residual heat from the Thermo Technical lab if available. If this is insufficient, two ground-coupled heat pumps are available that can be supplemented with the heat of three condensing gas boilers in cascade. In addition, there are plans for a future district heating network. If there is cooling demand in the building, this will be supplied by the heat pumps. When not in use, dry coolers can be used, or residual cooling of the TTL.
The energy consumption of the building is closely monitored. An extensive monitoring system makes it possible to quickly identify and cope with problems. All major consumption flows of gas and electricity are monitored separately and additionally split into zones. The installations have been extensively tested after commissioning, so that their operation matches the predicted situation as closely as possible.
Not just the energy consumption, but also the water consumption is limited as much as possible. The calculations assume less than 5m³ water per person per year. In addition, a leak detection system is installed so that possible leaks are detected as quickly as possible.
Even during the construction phase, attention was already paid to energy and water consumption. Priorities were set based on values from comparable construction sites in the past and then greatly reduced. These values were closely monitored and not exceeded. In addition to the energy and water consumption, the CO2 emissions resulting from transport were also monitored.
A lot of attention was paid to waste during the construction. The amount of waste was reduced as much as possible by, among other things, limiting the packaging material. The waste that was nevertheless 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.
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