It is our goal to structurally design buildings that we and the next generations of the world can live in. That means that we aim to put maximum effort into making each project a sustainable one. We have also made our new office energy-conserving. Energy concepts like geothermal heat pumps, double facades, and saving energy using a central atrium were
used in its development.
Designing a sustainable building is much more than prescribing sustainable materials and applying energy-efficient installations. A truly sustainable building can only be realised if we think long and hard about sustainability in all its aspects from the very beginning. Sustainably responsible choices include using FSC lumber, natural plaster and mortar with reduced bricks. But sustainable building is also in efficient design, preventing cold bridges, low-maintenance finishing, avoiding caulking seams etc. Structural connections can also be finished in such a way that they can be reused after demolition.
Efficient use of available construction materials and/or construction systems marks the first important step in realising a sustainable building. An almost even more important step following sparing and responsible use of materials is realising a building which will be usable for many years to come. User needs and concepts change over the years. It is therefore essential to construct a building based on a flexible design.
Part of efficient and flexible design is minimising structure components as it leads to reduced use of materials. Cores are made as small as possible and we try to use as few load-bearing walls as possible. In addition, mostly light floor systems are used (this includes hollow-core slabs, Bubbledeck and/or Slimline floors). Applying light floor systems results in less costly foundations. Reducing the column distance wherever possible in the facade can lead to smaller beam measurements and thus a more efficient design.
We contributed to OVG’s realisation of the TNT Head Office in Hoofddorp with architect Paul de Ruiter. That development received a LEED Platinum rating. The building, with a very open and flexible structure, is on a concrete foundation with 100% granulated main filler material. The Amstelkwartier Hotel, another development we worked on, also received a platinum rating.
We have extensive experience with BREEAM-nl as well: We did structural engineering work on 2 OVG offices in Hoofddorp (Asics Europe and Schneider Electric), developing Corio in the Vredenburg building in Utrecht and extensions on the RAI Convention Centre on Scheldeplein. We have a pending BREEAM certificate on all these projects. There are many ways to express sustainability, but the main point of the story remains the same in every case: designing a building with minimum energy and water consumption and flexible structures guaranteeing a long lifespan. Using existing structures as much as possible, applying sustainable materials and maximising recycling waste materials.
We notice more and more that we as structural engineers have a direct influence on the level of sustainability in buildings. Sustainability is achieved when this ambition is taken into account from the very first design.