BREEAM (short for Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology) is an approach for assessing and rating the sustainability of buildings. It is licensed for use by independent assessors around the world and is claimed to be "the world's foremost environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings." Among the criteria considered during a building's assessment are energy and water use, transport links, materials used, waste and management processes.
According to the building's designers PLP Architecture, The Edge is the second largest building to ever achieve BREEAM's Outstanding certification. The building covers 40,000 sq m (430,000 sq ft), and features a mix of passive temperature control and energy-efficient design, and generates its own electricity, too.
The building's south façade is covered with solar panels on all surfaces that aren't windows. In order to generate enough electricity to meet its level of consumption, though, developers OVG partnered with the University of Amsterdam and the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences to install a further 4,100 sq m (44,100 sq ft) of solar panels on the rooftops of the schools.
The heating and cooling of the building is catered for in part by orienting it to benefit passively from the path of the sun and also by using an aquifer thermal energy storage system. Such systems use one well to provide heating during the cool periods and another to provide cooling during warm periods. When it is warm, water is extracted from one well, pumped through a heat exchange and pumped back into the well for storage until a cooler time when it can be used to heat the building. The second well is used in reverse to provide cooling when it is warm.
Among its other features, OVG says The Edge was the first building to make use of Philips’ Ethernet-powered LED connected lighting for offices, which we detailed back in July. As well as providing power to the lighting, the system is able to transmit data. As such, lights can be paired with sensors and used to monitor aspects like movement, light and temperature throughout the building, helping to inform energy management.
Elsewhere, rainwater is collected for use flushing the building's toilets and watering its green areas. There is good access to public transport links and the local cycle route network, with 500 bicycle parking spaces on-site.
The video below provides an overview of some of the innovative technologies used by The Edge.