Located in Amsterdam’s financial center and home to Deloitte’s new Netherlands office, The Edge is the world’s greenest office building and has been inspiring the green community since its doors opened in 2015.
Among its many accolades are some particularly prestigious nods from BREEAM, an institution known for its large-scale environmental assessment method. The Edge not only pocketed the BREEAM Office New Construction Award in 2016, but also came close to maxing out the system’s 100-point scale with a record-breaking score of 98.36 percent.
In the months that followed, press and industry affiliates alike hailed The Edge as the world’s greenest, most sustainable and most intelligent office building. Although Geelen Counterflow’s Haalen-based workspace officially surpassed The Edge’s BREEAM score last April, it didn’t generate a comparable amount of buzz.
So it seems there’s something about The Edge that sets it apart from buildings with similar origins — but what?
The Blueprint of the World’s Greenest Office Building
Many of The Edge’s structural and mechanical features will sound familiar to even the most casual followers of the green building movement.
What’s really remarkable, though, is just how deeply those features are interconnected. Nearly every inch of the building’s 430,000 square feet is outfitted for energy efficiency. Systems harmonize with each other and with the surrounding environment in equal measure.
Ron Bakker, the architect who masterminded design and construction of The Edge, told Eco-Business more about the ethos that underpinned his blueprints.
“The principle is, you use the available space as intensively as possible, as efficiently as possible,” said Bakker. “If you don’t need it, don’t build it.”
It’s no wonder The Edge uses 70 percent less electricity than your average office next door. Below are just a few of the parts that make up its symphonic whole as the world’s greenest office building:
- The south wall’s solar panels power building occupants’ phones, computers and electric cars.
- Aquifer thermal energy storage works conjointly with passive heating mechanisms to keep indoor temperatures comfortable.
- Rainwater collection doubles as a means of keeping toilets low-flow and and irrigating outside greenery.
- More than 500 bicycle parking spaces are available on site, and public transport is well within reach.
Even light itself is bent and broken to suit The Edge’s purposes. In fact, the building’s very orientation in space is geometrically fitted to the sun’s movements, catching daylight in a roomy atrium and impeding the entry of excess glare.
Despite these features, The Edge still wouldn’t see the energy and cost savings it does if an integrative apparatus didn’t exist to tie everything together. That’s where the building’s intelligence comes in.
The Best of Both Worlds
Is the world’s greenest office building also the smartest? While that superlative is debatable, The Edge undoubtedly deserves a medal for its powers of perception alone.
Throughout the building, a grand total of 30,000 sensors are distributed across 15 smart systems. Calibrated to pick up on fluctuations in human and environmental activity, these multifunctional measuring devices work to make The Edge both more attentive and more responsive to occupant needs.
The sensors also reduce electricity consumption. They log everything from light and motion to temperature and humidity, amassing data that then funnels into The Edge’s far-reaching networks. Power thereby travels relative to demand, rather than coursing through systems indiscriminately.
Further connecting The Edge is Deloitte’s very own smartphone app. By wiring user preferences to a central dashboard, the app is able to synchronize the direct, day-to-day inputs of employees with pre-programmed building functions.
Through the app, water cooler machinery and on-site exercise equipment can store coffee preferences and personal fitness progress, resulting in a sort of individuation that’s rarely associated with office life.
Then again, does anything about The Edge even begin to recall the sterility of corporate stereotypes? On the contrary, a fundamentally opposite force seems to be at work — that of human want and connection.
Bakker believes that the relationship between the sustainability of a space and its occupants needn’t be one-sided. It can — and must — be symbiotic.
“My main message is that yes, sustainability is important,” he explained to Eco-Business, “but it has to make places better; it’s to do with people and enjoyment and prosperity.”
Josephine is Content Manager at Poplar Network. She is currently earning her B.A. in International Relations and Journalism with a concentration in Science, Technology, and the Environment at the University of Texas in Austin. She is deeply interested in the politics of climate change and sustainability.