World’s smartest buildings: The Edge, Amsterdam

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Alice Cruickshank

From comprehensive recycling facilities to lights operated by sensors, most offices these days are working to reduce their carbon footprint.

But one office space is leading the way in environmental sustainability: The Edge in Amsterdam. The Edge is the result of a close partnership between OVG Real Estate and Deloitte, the building’s principal occupier. The Edge is proud recipient of BREEAM’s highest ever sustainability score, at 98.36%. The building’s work in sustainability and smart building tech has won The Edge and OVG Real Estate numerous awards.

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The striking exterior of The Edge. Image: Ronald Tilleman

New level of sustainability

The Edge was designed by London-based PLP Architecture with energy efficiency and sustainability at the heart of its design. The building’s orientation is based on the sun’s movement throughout the day, with the intention of generating maximum energy savings. The building’s atrium provides northern daylight, while the solar panels on the southern facade shield the workspaces from the sun. Load bearing walls to the south, east and west have smaller openings to provide shading and ventilation. Window blinds are designed according to sun angles and provide additional shade for the office spaces and reduce solar heat gain.

The Edge actually produces more energy than it consumes. The building’s 65,000 sq ft of solar panels provide enough sustainable electricity to power all smartphones, laptops and electric cars at the site. Water waste is also reduced through the building’s design. Rainwater is collected on the roof, which is then used to flush toilets and irrigate garden areas.

A low-emission LED lighting system co-designed by Philips is in use across all office spaces in The Edge. The system uses nearly 6,500 connected LED luminaires throughout the building’s 15 stories. Sensors collect anonymous data on occupancy and light that is fed into a central dashboard, which captures, stores, shares and distributes information about the building’s lighting usage. The Philips lighting system has resulted in an annual reduction of €100,000 in energy costs.

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The Edge spans 15 floors with a central atrium. Image: Ronald Tilleman

Connected workspace

Sensors throughout The Edge provide anonymous insight into the presence of people in the building. This means heating, cooling, fresh air and lighting are fully IoT integrated, controlled per 200 sq ft based on occupancy – with zero occupancy there is next-to-zero energy use. This occupancy data can also be used to reduce food waste by predicting cafeteria usage numbers, and also save on cleaning resources by advising which unused rooms can be skipped.

All employees can regulate the temperature and light over their individual workplaces by means of an app on their smartphone, and the building’s facility managers then use this information to regulate the temperature in all the various rooms. Facility managers also use the connected office technology to be alerted to lights that need replacing, or if printers need more paper.

Blueprint for workspaces of the future

The Edge has thoroughly earned its sustainability stripes. The building-wide use of sensors demonstrates exactly how IoT technology can benefit commercial real estate, while the immense solar power generated by the roof panels proves even a large, busy office building can be self-sufficient in its energy consumption. As building managers face the challenge of cutting costs and meeting energy targets, The Edge is an admirable showcase of how it’s done.

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