FutureStructure

Say Hello to the World's Greenest Office Building

Deloitte's Amsterdam office is so efficient it produces more power than it uses — and an app connects employees with the space they work in.

by / October 2, 2015

The world’s greenest office building is a living creature that finds you parking spots, knows your calendar and assigns you a new desk every day.

Not the building, exactly — more like the app. Deloitte, a consulting firm that occupies the Amsterdam building called “The Edge,” has an app for its employees that does all of the above and more. According to a feature in Bloomberg Business, you can tell the app what temperature you prefer and the building will adjust accordingly. You can let it know how you like your coffee, and its coffee stations will have that information.

The desk assignment part is wrapped up in a philosophy called “hot desking,” where employees are encouraged to work in new spaces every day, which introduces them to new people and experiences. Each employee gets a locker — also new each day — and access to a gym, where the energy from workouts is used to generate some of the building’s electricity.

That’s the other thing about The Edge: It produces more power than it uses. According to the office building’s website, The Edge got the highest score ever, 98.36 percent, from the Building Research Establishment, which assigns sustainability ratings to office spaces around the world. The building, largely transparent, offers plenty of natural light.

“Large floor plates arranged around a north-facing atrium allow daylight to permeate the majority of workspaces, while load-bearing structure with smaller openings provides thermal mass and shade to the sunlit faces of the building,” said Ron Bakker, a partner of the building’s design firm PLP Architecture, in a press release from BRE.

The electricity it does consume is used efficiently; the lights are all high-efficiency, and much of its power comes from more than 44,000 square feet of solar panels. Heating and cooling comes from an aquifer thermal energy storage system underground. According to the Bloomberg article, it collects rainwater from the roof to use in toilets and gardening.

The building’s website lists its energy consumption at -0.3 kilowatt hours per meter per year.

Most of the features built into the big glass box and the app that came with it are meant to give employees the power of customization. The app allows users to customize the light in whatever part of the building they happen to be working in that day. Workers can find meal recipes and use the app to order the right ingredients, then have them delivered and ready when the work day is done.

But there are also administrative uses. The app collects data on usage so that Deloitte can know which features are used more than others, or which ones aren’t being used as much. Sensors keep track of how many people are drying their hands in which bathrooms so that it can alert cleaning staff when a bathroom likely needs cleaning.

OVG Real Estate, which owns The Edge and worked with Deloitte in developing it, has pursued several similar projects in the past. In June, construction was completed on the OVG office building HumboldtHafenEins in Berlin — an office space that the company boasts is Berlin’s greenest. With the accounting consultancy PriceWaterhouseCoopers as its anchor tenant, the building has a ventilation system that recovers 75 percent of its heat and an onsite “cogeneration plant."