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research building free university amsterdam breeam-excellent certified


The design for the new beta-medical research building of the Free University (VU) in Amsterdam received a BREEAM-NL Excellent certification for its sustainability! Given the special research facilities among other things, an Excellent certification was not self-evident. Nevertheless, the design team with architectural office cepezed, structural engineer Pieters Bouwtechniek and MEP/HVAC engineer DWA managed to realize a high overall score.

special functions

Among other things, the new building will house sophisticated measuring equipment that must function absolutely vibration-free. This while the environment generates a lot of vibrations: the immediate surroundings include tram and train routes as well as Amsterdam’s southern ring road. Some of the facilities also generate a high floor load for example, while the laboratories demand additional climate treatment.

lots of material

The special functions require a lot of material and specific constructions. For example, it takes a lot of piles and thick concrete dam walls up to 20 meters deep to render the building completely vibration-free. The floors are also thick and many installations are required for the extra climate treatment. Within BREEAM, the building therefore earns fewer points in the ‘materials’ section than our other buildings.

generous compensation

A whole series of measures and solutions compensates for the lower score on ‘materials’. In terms of ‘management’, ‘health and comfort’, ‘energy’, ‘transport’, ‘water’, ‘waste’ and ‘land use and ecology’, the building performs well to excellent. Plenty of daylight, ionization of the air, solar panels, LED lighting, energy-efficient equipment and elevators, presence detection and an aquifer thermal energy storage (ATES) contribute to this just as well as water-saving sanitary facilities, good options for garbage separation, bat boxes and a green roof with bee hotels. In order to be able to make the best possible choices in every area, an extensive analysis of the lifecycle costs associated with various options was performed.

sustainable and social campus

With the new beta-medical building, the Free University invests in the sustainable development of its campus. Following the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, it aims, among other things, to be 100% gas free by 2035 and to use only 100% sustainably generated electricity. The new research building makes an important contribution to that objective.

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