Sustainability in TU Real Estate

Apart from the running track to reduce the carbon footprint for energy supply, much attention is being paid by the Green Office in collaboration with the Facility Management & Real Estate department to the sustainability aspects of new buildings and renovations. One of the Green Office staff members is dedicated for FMRE support to this end.

The new PULSE learning centre that will be delivered by the end of 2017 will comply with BREEAM excellent, will be energy neutral, and will be equipped with innovations like a direct current (DC) grid. A study is being performed to include circularity as an inherent part of building design, demolishment and so on.

Sustainable procurement

Large amounts of products, energy and services are procured by the university. The procurement of wind electricity has been an important step to reduce the carbon footprint of supplies. First collaboration projects of the Green Office with the procurement department have been launched, to develop a stronger sustainability focus in our procurement processes. 

CHP plant

The combined heat and power installation of the TU Delft central heat and power plant has been upgraded in 2014 to a power generation of 4 MWth and 4MWe, delivering approximately 30% of the universities heat and electricity demand in an energy efficient way. 

Food on campus

The TU Delft is reorganising food and beverage on the campus with a new formula that more explicitly addresses the variety of cultural backgrounds of our students and staff. FMRE selects new parties for food and beverage on campus after which FMRE along with the Green Office and the new parties will investigate how we can achieve a sustainable 'food program'.

Large renovation and construction projects offer great opportunities for a more sustainable TU campus

Waste on campus

A lot of waste of many kinds is generated daily on campus. This waste is separated partly already, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. The Green Office is analysing the waste streams within campus and supports students in finding methods to re-use waste as a material for new products.

Heating and thermal storage

The largest part of the TU Delft campus is heated by one central thermal power plant.  The Green Office wants to reduce the energy usage without compromising on the level of comfort in the buildings. The first goal is to optimise the control system, giving opportunities for reducing the temperature of the heated water and peak shaving. Other steps which are researched in order to reduce the energy use is the construction of a geothermal system, biomass gasification and also possibly a connection to the heat roundabout of the province of South Holland.

Delft Solar City

The TU Delft introduction of solar energy has been extended to the Delft Solar City project with the City of Delft, the student housing corporation Duwo and energy company Qurrent, that has been selected for 3 years in a row as the most sustainable energy company in the Netherlands. The intention is to speed up the introduction of solar energy in the city with student support. 

Energy monitoring TU campus

In order to save on university’s energy consumption, it’s prerequisite to know where and when electricity is actually used. That’s why the Green Office puts effort in researching ways to analyse the use of electricity. This led to the start of a new project at EWI on researching spectral analysis in order to determine where exactly the electricity is used for in a building. The Green Office is working as well on the monitoring itself on the campus.

Green Village

At the TU Delft campus, the Green Village is under development, as an inviting, interactive area that will host buildings and interacting installations with breakthrough technologies and services for sustainable development. It especially aims at interaction between innovative companies, authorities and TU Delft students and scientists.

The Dutch government reduced the regulations pressure for this area, so that new technologies that do not yet comply with regulations can be implemented nevertheless, enabling the preparation of new legislation for sustainable solutions.

Drinking water use

For the reduction of drinking water use, almost all the toilets of the TU Delft are equipped with two buttons, enabling the users to use a reduced water flow, if more is not necessary. But the most important measure is the use of surface water from the nearby Schie canal for filling our huge basins used for water research on flood control, ship design and so forth. Depending on the actual research requirements, 20-40% of the yearly water demand of the TU Delft is served with this water source. 

Campus waste

The TU Delft produces approximately 2300 tons of waste every year, that is collected in 14 separate streams. The separated waste streams have in 2015 been incorporated in the new waste contract with the waste collecting company – who is responsible for the sustainable waste handling. This way, further separation can be pursued as well checking the right procedures for waste separation at the source, and the stimulation of re-use and useful applications.

The 2015 numbers show a substantial reuse as raw material (900 tons) and the conversions to green (650 tons) and grey energy (540 tons). 65% is thus reused sustainably. If we add the conversion to grey energy, we end up with 89% reuse. Only 11% is dumped.

In 2016, the collection of disposable coffee cups was added to that. Computer hardware is collected for reuse in developing countries. 

The Green Office has launched a project to investigate innovative solutions for waste handling and reuse. Coffee grounds – roughly 20,000 kg are collected each year at the university – have been examined as raw material for producing hard materials e.g. as notebook covers. Although promising, it showed that investments in a production system for a still limited try-out were too high. The start-up company that collaborated in the project is looking for other opportunities. 

The TU Delft smart thermal campus grid

In collaboration with water research institute Deltares and private companies Deerns, Priva, van Beek and Kuijpers, the heat supply network and buildings have been modelled as part of the Dutch national IPIN program (Innovation Program on Intelligent Networks) for the optimal design and (predictive) control of the more sustainable heating strategy. By the end of 2016, all buildings connected to one of the 4 campus heating tracks will be supplied with heat at maximally 80˚C.

The newly developed control strategy with real-time simulations will be included, and 75 rooms in the Industrial Design faculty will be equipped with 5 sensors each to monitor the building internal climate effects, in combination with a (presence dependent) feed-back to local radiators. The latter should also be considered as an important first step to transform existing campus buildings into smart ones. 

Reducing the heat supply temperature at campus level

A traditional high-temperature heat network (100-130˚C) provides the campus buildings currently with heat. Sustainable sources however, generally operate at lower temperature levels. The (existing) campus buildings and heating infrastructure are therefore being prepared to enable the introduction of sustainable sources, such as geothermal heating. In major renovations, all buildings are being prepared for a maximum supply temperature of 80˚C. In 2016, the internal piping structure of the central heat and power plant was modified so that the 4 separate heating tracks within the heating network can be fed at different temperature levels and return flows can be collected separately as well. This enables a stepwise transition and a better use (“quick win”) of the combined heat and power units – reducing the university’s primary energy demand. An interesting side effect is that in the “per building” analyses, sub-optimal performance of existing installations and control strategies show daylight. Improvements might probably lead to around 10-15% savings in energy use of the HVAC systems.

Find a video explaining this project here.

A sustainable Dutch row house on the TU Delft campus: Prêt-à-loger

With the entry Prêt-à-Loger, Home with a skin, the team won at the 2014 Solar decathlon competition in Paris, the first prize for Sustainability and Communication &  Social Awareness  and the second prize for Energy Efficiency and Construction Management, Health & Safety. Prêt-à-Loger shows how the many existing Dutch row houses can be transformed to sustainable, energy neutral buildings with more comfort. “Improve your house, preserve your home”. The house has been transferred to the Green Village area on TU Delft campus and now serves as the meeting and working space for the Green Office. A hydrogen car producing electricity in times of few solar energy, is connected to the house. 

PV installation

In 2016, a large (1,1 MWp) PV-system was installed on the roofs of many of the TU Delft buildings, providing the university with 1 million kWh of sustainable electricity each year. As part of this project, a new scientific test centre for solar PV installations is now under construction, and experimental installations for car and (wireless) bike charging have been installed. 

Find here a nice video about the new station for solar bike charging next to the Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS) faculty. 

Campus transport

The TU Delft obtained a number 1 position for sustainable transport in the 2015 UI Greenmetric world university ranking, comparing 407 universities from all over the world. The major part of the campus has been made car-free, 250 bus stops serve the transport of 3,000-4,000 people every day, the campus is prepared for replacing bus by tram transport – without hazardous emissions, and 80-90% of the daily campus visitors use a bicycle.

It is not easy to make it even better, but the TU Delft campus strategy foresees for instance in transferring parking areas to the campus peripherals for further reducing automotive traffic in the campus area, and a serious extension of the number of electric charging points. A new Green Office project will commence in 2017 for new parcel delivery concepts. Especially deliveries privately ordered by individuals require many campus traffic movements by smaller and larger vans. 

Introduction of a geothermal well

The TU Delft aims to eliminate the use of natural gas for campus heating. The introduction of a 2 km deep geothermal well, providing heat at 70˚C will be an important measure to this end. The well will additionally be used as a national scientific infrastructure. In 2016, an important subsidy from the Dutch government has been acquired for achieving market conform heat prices. The expected well’s capacity will exceed the campus needs, and developing a heat market beyond the TU Delft campus building is a necessary step for a sound business case. Depending on the opportunities, a definite go/no go decision is expected early 2017. Geothermal energy does not reduce the primary energy demand, but lowers CO2 emissions. In addition to the previously mentioned initiatives of purchasing wind electricity and improving the CHP installation, this results in further reductions to around 70-80%, and is a prime measure for introducing sustainable energy generation at the campus.   

The campus attention on geothermal heating was initiated by the student lead Delft Aardwarmte Project, and reinforced scientific attention for this theme, among other things with the appointment of a professor on the new chair geothermal engineering.  

Energy monitoring

The TU Delft publishes its energy use on the energy monitor website. Here, per building and for the campus as a whole, historical, real data can be found for electricity, gas and heat use. Also production data from the combined heat and power plant are available.

To have a better understanding of the electricity use for the various functions, the Green Office initiated a new research project at the faculty for Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS) on spectral analysis of electricity supply cables. In principle, it should be possible to trace the switching of known devices in combination with changes in electricity demand this way, thus giving insight is the electricity demand of groups of appliances and lighting. 

Purchase of Dutch wind energy

In 2016, a contract was signed with Eneco to deliver wind energy from the Luchterduinen off-shore wind park nearby the Dutch coast for all purchased electricity starting January 1, 2017. This will reduce the campus CO2 emissions for energy supply with almost 60% and reduces the primary energy use with some 40%. In addition, it underscores TU Delft’s leading international position for science and education in wind energy.

Energy Saving

The overall campus development, in which demolition of older buildings and the establishment of new, energy-efficient buildings is prioritised over renovations, will play an important role for campus energy saving in the coming decade.

In the shorter term, two key areas for reducing the electricity demand have been defined: the campus wide introduction of LED lighting and reduction of the ICT energy use. We don’t know the exact electricity use of these two segments, but statistics for the higher education in the Netherlands suggest that it might range to 50-60% of the overall electricity use.

We are on track to have approximately 60% of the TU Delft floor space equipped with LED lighting in 2020.

A Green Office project showed that introducing software for quick transition to “hibernation mode” in a student PC room can reduce the electricity demand up to 40%. In 2017 we will try to introduce this strategy for the majority of the ICT work places, in cooperation with the TU Delft ICT department.

It is important to recognise that tracks like these require upfront investments that are not necessarily part of existing budgets. It requires a policy change to base investment decisions on the total cost of ownership, including energy, and probably maintenance savings over the equipment life time to find corresponding financing opportunities.