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Public debate

The public debate on the sustainability of the built environment has gathered pace in recent years. Institutions such as the UvA are being directly addressed, and not making a contribution is an untenable position to take in society today. This was emphasised in a call issued by academics, which included calls to decrease energy consumption and invest in sustainable energy (
Since sustainable and energy-conscious construction is desirable from both a societal and financial perspective (in the longer term), this forms an important point for attention with regard to the development of the UvA's open city campuses, both during construction and afterwards.

Sustainability framework

The following form the most important aspects of the sustainability framework for University Quarter development, and have been embedded in these objectives:
1.    Adopting the principle of almost energy-neutral buildings (i.e. BENG: bijna energieneutrale gebouwen), with the intention of later growing towards becoming an energy-neutral and subsequently energy-providing building;
2.    Avoiding using natural gas, becoming all-electric;
3.    Creating healthy indoor spaces, in line with the Frisse Scholen (Fresh Schools) concept;
4.    Using sustainably produced materials;
5.    Preventing the depletion of raw materials and natural resources in building construction and exploitation;
6.    Instilling sustainable water use and management.

Energy and water use

The aim is for buildings to become energy-neutral at area level by strongly reducing building energy consumption and generating sustainable energy to cover the demand. These projects will be realised without connecting to the gas network. A subsequent ambition is to become energy-positive, entailing generating more energy than is consumed. In addition, the UvA and the City of Amsterdam would like to investigate together with local stakeholders (e.g. hotels, De Key and local residents) how the energy management of all of the property in the University Quarter can be made future proof, and whether synergy benefits can be gained from tackling this together.

Sustainability means more than achieving energy objectives. In the plan development for the buildings, ways to reduce water use are being studied, including looking at whether grey water (e.g. rainwater) can be used for certain purposes, such as for flushing toilets.

Circular and sustainable construction

Circularity has become an important term in the construction and renovation of the University Quarter. This entails maximising the re-use of raw materials and products in the design and exploitation of the buildings. With regard to buildings, this not only entails looking at construction materials, but also at extending its service life by making it as flexible as possible to use. Construction material passports are currently being drawn up for all of the existing buildings, so any parties creating designs will know at the beginning of the design process what materials are available in the area.

Sustainability also has an important role to play in the construction process itself. Of course, any nuisance caused to those in the area must be kept to a minimum, which the UvA intends to achieve with such measures as using smaller, electric vehicles and transporting materials by canal.

Sustainability at building level

At building level, the degree to which sustainability aspects can be implemented and incorporated into buildings currently undergoing renovation is being investigated. The new University Library project is now undergoing this process.