The University of Eindhoven has taken the top award in the Education category

Heralded as the world’s most sustainable education building, the Atlas building at the University of Eindhoven has taken the top award in the Education category at the 2017 BREEAM Awards. The project achieved a BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ rating and the highest ever BREEAM score for an educational building with 93.86%.



o meet the need for more space and accommodation due to significant growth in student and staff numbers, Eindhoven University of Technology’s (TU/e) high sustainability ambitions have been recognised for the design to renovate its main building ‘Atlas’, an inspiring example of sustainable and innovative building in line with the principles of the City of Tomorrow.

Built between 1959 and 1963, the Atlas building had become very outdated in terms of aesthetics, furnishings and technology. As part of the university’s City of Tomorrow experiment, that will demonstrate the viability of sustainability and comfort within an existing building, the newly-renovated 16-storey building features innovative solutions in terms of energy, smart mobility and health.

In a country where 15% of office buildings are vacant, the Atlas building perfectly demonstrates how renovation really does pay off.

Healthy, comfortable building

The renovation of the Atlas building is founded on creating the healthiest and most comfortable indoor environment possible for users while, at the same time, minimising the environmental impact of the building and its use. To ensure that this combination of sustainability and comfort would succeed, various innovative solutions were applied, including a high-tech, smart facade and Smart Energy-Saving Lighting (SEL).

The new glass membrane facade has windows containing triple anti-glare glazing with internal sun screens. By using state-of-the-art materials, such as a heat-reflecting coating on both the windows and the screen, this simple membrane facade matches the insulation values of a double-skin facade. At night, the internal blinds can be lowered so that the insulation value of the facade is equivalent to that of an insulated cavity wall.

Having been dispensed with a gas connection, all the heating and cooling comes from the campus-wide geothermal system (the largest in Europe) that stores heat and cold separately in the subsurface and accesses it whenever the buildings need to be heated or cooled. In addition, the power requirements of the building are provided by solar panels that supply 500 megawatt hours per year.

Initiatives such as the building’s ‘night flush’ – floor-high windows slide outward to cool the building and clean the air in the summer months – along with smart, economical LED lighting and climate control systems which can be adjusted by users with an app, will together reduce the CO2 emission of the building by around 80%, even though the number of residents of the building will more than double.

Other sustainable measures include the economical reuse of materials, an efficient layout geared to a high level of occupancy and flexibility, energy-efficient elevators, water-saving measures and bicycle storage facilities. To enhance biodiversity, there are special facilities on and around the Atlas building including a bee hotel and nesting boxes for bats, swifts and house sparrows.

Inspiring future talent

When it is completed in 2018, the 41,500m² Atlas building will house two faculties (Industrial Design and Industrial Engineering alongside Innovation Sciences). It will also accommodate the Executive Board, many of the service departments of TU/e and the Eindhoven School of Education, as well as offer various facilities such as centralised lecture rooms, workspaces, a restaurant, safety and security offices and a central reception area with exhibition space.

This project demonstrates that renovation offers real opportunities to convert old, outdated premises into high-quality, innovative and sustainable modern buildings with the most healthy and comfortable indoor environment possible and the least possible environmental impact.

“The use of BREEAM enables the sustainability of the Atlas building to be a source of inspiration for the students, occupants and visitors that will form and create the society of the future,” said TU/e Executive Board President, Jan Mengelers. In addition to the highest BREEAM score ever for an educational building, the project has achieved the highest score for a renovated building in the Netherlands.

BREEAM is the internationally-recognised measure of sustainability for buildings and communities. More than 530,000 certificates have been issued under BREEAM on more than 24,000 projects around the world, and over 2.2 million buildings and communities are registered for certification. BREEAM is used in more than 70 countries.

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