A healthy living environment positively affects the quality of people's lives. The City of Utrecht aims to create such a 'healthy urban living' environment for its citizens by collaborating with different stakeholders and focusing on areas like innovation, health economy and infrastructure. Healthy Urban Living is also about creating an environment in which sustainable and innovative entrepreneurship can flourish and projects can emerge. These stories show what this is like in Utrecht.
Inspiring transformation: from an outdated building to the most sustainable office in the Netherlands
the 29 June 2016, assurance company A.S.R. opened the newly renovated
headquarters in Utrecht. The building originally opened its doors in the
1970s and needed some improvements after serving as headquarters of ASR
for 40 years. Therefore, it was completely renovated and turned into
one of the largest green and energy-efficient office complexes in the Netherlands.
But how did an old and outdated building become such an inspiring office
and a green and sustainable addition to Utrecht?
Before the renovation,
the building had the lowest energy label G, there was a lack of daylight, and
the technical and sewerage systems were outdated. Looking at both the costs and
sustainability considerations, A.S.R. found renovation a better option than
leaving behind an empty building.
A green headquarters
The main themes
during the renovation were increasing sustainability, saving energy, and to
become an inspiring workplace for employees and visitors. Now, the new
headquarters truly is a sustainable building. The once massive building has
opened and lightened up by the instalment of large glass facades. Daylight can
now reach the inner core of the building. Moreover, the office uses 56% less
energy than before the renovation, a savings comparable to the energy used by
850 households per year. A total of 1200 solar panels have been installed on
the rooftop and 98% of the waste and the rubble from the renovation has been
recycled. For both employees and visitors, A.S.R. offers a restaurant, sports
facilities, and has a seats2meet-place.
Outside the building
The renovation also paid attention to the
outside of the building and its surroundings. The garden now houses several (in
the Netherlands endangered) animal species such as bats, hedgehogs,
salamanders, insects, storks and grass snakes. Parts of the building’s walls
have been turned into green walls in order to filter the air and to provide
hives for swifts and sparrows. Furthermore, the new double-walled structure produces
warmth that is removed through mechanic systems, which regulates the
temperature inside the building. Additionally, the rooftops of the building
have been turned into gardens.
ASR School Challenge
To introduce children to
the topic of sustainability and to encourage secondary schools in Utrecht to
pay attention to the sustainability of their schools, ASR initiated the ASR
School Challenge in collaboration with the Municipality of Utrecht and the
Dutch Green Building Council (DGBC). The saved energy costs of the ASR
headquarters can be used to realise improvements in this area.