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Groundbreaking Work
@University of Groningen
Groundbreaking Work Projects Energy Academy Europe

Sustainable solutions

Harvesting and saving energy
Harvesting and saving energy

This building is going to be an icon of sustainability. Its smart design will reduce energy consumption and, moreover, enable it to produce more energy than it consumes. As a result, the design has the highest BREAAM-NL rating – ‘Outstanding’ – indicating that it meets exceptionally high sustainability standards. It will be without equal among education-related buildings in the Netherlands.

The energy roof has an optimal orientation towards the south
The energy roof has an optimal orientation towards the south

Zero emissions (after 40 years, incl. construction)
BREEAM-NL Outstanding (the only education-related building with this rating in the Netherlands)
EPC = 0 or less
51 kWh/m2 per year (which is extremely low for an education-related building)

Solar panel roof with windows for daylight
Solar panel roof with windows for daylight

In order to meet these challenging energy performance standards:
use of mechanical installations must be kept to a minimum
energy consumption must be kept to a minimum
maximum use must be made of natural energy

Extraordinary energy roof

In order to achieve these highly ambitious sustainability objectives, the building has an unusual design with a large, slanted solar panel roof of approximately 4,000 m2. The roof, facing south for optimum performance, will be fitted with around 2,000 solar panels.

Solar roof

The panels will be arranged in triangles (133 in total) so that they cover 100% of the roof surface. At the same time, the design allows daylight to pass through, making it effectively a 150% energy roof.
The façade also allows daylight in, while its wooden fins prevent the building from heating up too much in the sun. These features provide the building’s outer shell with excellent insulation, keeping both heat and cold outside and protecting against sunlight if necessary.
Such a striking exterior leaves no room for doubt: the building is a place with innovative energy efficiency.

150% energy roof
Air from outside is heated or cooled with geothermal energy in an underground labyrinth before it enters the building through the winter garden.
Air from outside is heated or cooled with geothermal energy in an underground labyrinth before it enters the building through the winter garden.

Natural ventilation

In order to make use of natural ventilation, staff should keep their windows open as much as possible. Another, more unusual way of heating or cooling air inside the building takes place in the underground labyrinth. This 200-meter-long air duct heats or cools air from outside with geothermal energy, providing a pleasant indoor climate without the need for mechanical ventilation. The fresh air is distributed through large air ducts, corridors and the atrium.

The building does not have to rely on natural ventilation alone, however; if the weather conditions are not good enough, the mechanical ventilation system will step in. This hybrid ventilation system ensures a pleasant working climate at all times.

Solar chimney
The north side (the highest point of the building) will sport a solar chimney, which stimulates the airflow using solar energy. The chimney also controls the flow of the return air out of the building.

Underfloor heating: concrete core activation

In addition, the building will be heated and cooled through concrete core activation. Long pipes, installed underneath the floors, transfer heat or cold to the floor surface. This, too, contributes to a comfortable indoor climate.

Thermal energy storage
The concrete core activation system goes hand in hand with thermal energy storage (TES). A deep well will be dug near the building, which – just like the labyrinth – will use geothermal energy to keep the building at a comfortable temperature.


Rainwater will be collected in a grey water tank and used to flush toilets.

Energy Saving Solutions
Energy Saving Solutions
Groundbreaking Work

@University of Groningen

Last modified:11 October 2019 10.55 a.m.
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