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Aug 2014

Creating Carbon-Neutral Buildings

22 August 2014 | Posted by Zachary

As I noted earlier, reducing energy use through energy-efficient technologies and systems has become the norm. Real leaders, however, are now creating carbon-neutral and positive-energy buildings. 2012 Zayed Future Energy Prize winner Schneider Electric is one definite leader in this realm. Earlier today, I highlighted the world’s largest positive-energy building, located in France. Below is information regarding another one of Europe’s most sustainable buildings, TNT Centre, the headquarters of TNT Express in Hoofddorp, the Netherlands.

TNT Centre

The 5-story building is 17,000 m2 in size. “As a transport company, TNT Express is keenly aware of its environmental impact. They acknowledge that their business—transporting goods by trucks and airplane—makes them a key contributor to harmful CO2 emissions. But being a good corporate citizen, TNT wants to do more than just reduce its environmental impact —it wants to become the world's first zero-emission transport company,” Schneider Electric writes.

That’s an impressive target. I look forward to seeing its progress on that front. What it has done with its headquarters is a good start.

Aside from the green targets, TNT was also intent on making its headquarters cost-competitive with conventional buildings of the type and size. Indeed, the idea that green buildings need to cost more is outdated, and TNT was wise to include that point in its planning. Actually, TNT Centre ended up performing better than its target. On a total cost of ownership (TCO) basis, the headquarters actually ended up 10% cheaper than a conventional building would have been.

Some fun facts about the building, other than it being carbon neutral and 10% cheaper than a conventional alternative, include: 1) 60% more energy efficient than building codes required; 2) 1.5% improved workforce productivity; and 3) within the Netherlands, in the top 5% of sustainable buildings.

Some of the technologies Schneider Electric provided for this project included renewable energy generation technology (e.g., solar power), lighting control solutions, and HVAC control solutions.

“The building faces the sun and has as many windows as possible to let in the maximum daylight. Solar cells and collectors on the roof convert sunlight into energy; water pumped from the ground provides heating and cooling,” a 2008 report wrote.

It looks like TNT Express succeeded with flying colors with this one, and there’s no denying that Schneider Electric was a big part of that.

"In our opinion Schneider Electric is the world's number one in innovations. They really observe the market. That is obvious.... in their tender they even looked ten years ahead; that is what their quality was based on. They were the only company to do so," said Coen van Oostrom, CEO & Founder of OVG, the property developer.

Photo by Oliver Schuh via TNT

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