Green Office 2015 is a concept that originated in the Netherlands for a multi-functional office building – one that combines a spacious interior for a comfortable work environment with plenty of green space outside for recreation. Designed for a site with existing infrastructure, this green office integrates sustainable transportation and incorporates photovoltaic cells and wind turbines.
RAU Architects is in charge of the concept. Green Office 2015 mixes and stacks functions, affording an impressive, seven-fold activation of the site’s footprint. It’s built on top of infrastructure and forms a park-like link between various areas. It encompasses a host of facilities relating to work, living, and recreation – restaurants, cafés, sports facilities, and daycare are all provided.
Green Office 2015 is a multi-functional building that will perform to satisfaction for decades, functioning not only as an office building, but also as a hotel or a parking garage. It will be developed in accordance with the “open building principle,” meaning that the user determines the layout and content.
Green Office 2015 generates more sustainable energy than it consumes, and doesn’t make concessions when it comes to comfort. This flexible building design fulfills various functions over time, and it earns the highest BREEAM, GreenCalc, and LEED ratings.
In this design, energy efficiency is achieved in three ways:
1. Efficient insulation.
2. Converting kinetic energy into electrical energy.
3. Clean energy production through the use of photovoltaic cells and wind turbines.
Energy requirements are kept low, and the energy available inside the building is retained as much as possible. Building users’ kinetic energy is collected and converted into electrical energy, and sewage water, refuse, and old paper are chemically converted into energy and integrated into the energetic circulation of the building complex. Any additional energy is generated via solar cells integrated into the building; small, noiseless wind turbines; and algae that are converted to biogas.
A Focus on End Users
User needs are the central focus of Green Office 2015. To achieve this, project team members were divided into three groups:
- Development Group, which is concerned with innovation, low-energy concepts and technologies, and the flexible use of space.
- Realization Group, which investigates the possibilities for “open building,” the realization of an energy-producing building, and the life-cycle of the building, financing, and operation.
- Innovation Group, which examines innovative technologies and concepts relating to energy, sustainable materials, maintenance minimization, and flexible work arrangements.
First, the project team assessed possible building users. They created personas (fictitious people with names, photos, and individual working styles) to represent groups of possible users. The team members also examined the use of the office in the future. They realized that, to a growing extent, offices are serving as meeting places. Also, they discovered that it’s becoming more desirable to end users to have access to the buildings and surrounding space beyond traditional office hours.
This integrated design concept saves time and cuts failure costs because all parties cooperate interactively throughout the design process. Decisions are thoroughly underpinned, conflicts of interest are carefully considered, and problems become evident early on. Moreover, material, energy, and maintenance costs are also much lower, which makes the operation of Green Office 2015 far cheaper than conventional developments on a comparative scale.
The project team also makes use of BIM. Using open file formats, all data can be combined and linked. As a result, highly advanced analyses can be made at a very early stage (energy consumption and level-of-comfort calculations, building material quantities, cabling and infrastructure dimensions, etc.). BIM also helped the team decide whether to opt for a glass roof. While it offers a nice work environment, cooling a building topped by a glass roof takes a huge amount of energy.
With BIM, the building can also be “turned” virtually to assess whether the yield improves. As soon as a party changes the data in any way, this is incorporated integrally into the design.
Green Office 2015 is constructed mainly from steel, which is a material that’s easily melted down and reused in the future.
Inside, flexible workplaces are provided with a fully demand-driven hybrid ventilation system, including an air treatment system that uses outdoor air to achieve the desired indoor climate at individual workplace levels. The system establishes a basic climate in core areas and, in office areas, provides for a microclimate that can adjust to individual needs within minutes. This is ideal when fresh air is desired, but opening windows leads to drafts or noise. Sensor technology is also applied, allowing office furniture, lighting, and software to be adjusted as required. Office users can log in everywhere, complete with digital photograph frames and a digital bulletin board.
OLED illumination is another innovation being used in Green Office 2015 – surface lighting that provides a more even light, emits no heat, and is suitable for numerous purposes, from workplace lighting to location exits.
Leah B. Garris is managing editor for ARCHI-TECH.