When it came time to build a new facility for the Netherlands Institute of Ecology, the leaders were adamant that it should support their mission of protecting the environment. Inspired by the sustainable, no waste Cradle-to-Cradle philosophy, the offices and laboratories are designed with simple materials that can be recycled or reused, a solar array that generates power, and a waste water filtration system that eliminates sewage. Designed by Claus En Kaan Architecten, the new Institute of Ecology is a living laboratory to test out new concepts and technologies to improve green building strategies.
Situated on the edge of Wageningen University, the Netherlands Institute of Ecology is carefully located to take advantage of a green center of knowledge. The goal was to design and build the most sustainable building in the country and incorporate the zero waste principals of Cradle-to-Cradle design. At the same time, the building had to allow for flexibility with regards to changes in research inside the institute as well as the ability to change out systems and improve sustainability as technology advances.
The three story eco laboratory is located in a wetlands area that doubles as a water filtration bioswale for grey water from the building. Black water is treated separately and processed into biogas and fertilizer. An innovative solar array on the roof produces electricity and hot water used inside the facility and greenhouses. A green roof soaks up rainwater and works as a test bed to support biodiversity in the area. Materials were selected based on renewability, durability, and recyclability and are natural and simple. Daylighting provides much of the illumination needed during the day, but tracking motion sensors turn on energy efficient lights when needed. Lastly, the design of both the the building and the layout ensure maximum interconnectivity by encouraging chance meetings between people.
Images ©Sebastian van Damme/Claus En Kaan Architecten