Every year many firms and institutions face a tricky dilemma. What should we do: go for demolition and build something new? Or should we renovate our present, outdated business premises up to modern standards? Siemens Nederland decided on a thorough renovation of their head office in The Hague, which dated from 1972. They opted consciously for sustainability, so that the office became one of the few buildings in the Netherlands to achieve an LEED Gold label.
The large Siemens head office is a familiar landmark in The Hague’s Beatrix district. During the first round of renovation, back in the nineties, a new building (K/R) was added to the complex. In 2014, builders gathered once again to start work, this time on a complete makeover as the office complex no longer complied with the high standards the technology firm currently sets for a sustainable, comfortable working environment for its staff members. When the last builders left in May 2016, they had produced a complex that is certainly a match for the most modern new builds in every way: a paragon of sustainability and comfort, fully equipped for the New World of Work.
Technology Ensures Savings
It’s mainly the solutions provided by the MEP system that raise the building to the LEED Gold standard. Henk Dijkstra, Project Manager at Deerns: ‘The challenge we faced was to ensure the required energy savings and the desired levels of climate comfort by adjusting and optimising the MEP system while keeping the facades intact.’ In the new concept for the MEP system, most of the energy is saved by heating at lower temperatures and cooling at higher temperatures, and by replacing the radiators with ventilation units in the ceilings. The connection to the district heating grid and the existing cooling units were left untouched. Dijkstra: ‘The higher energy efficiency was thus mainly achieved by temperature transmission and by using new, extremely low-energy lighting fixtures.’
LEED certification not only imposes energy-saving demands, but also sustainability aspects, such as water saving, perception, the use and reuse of materials, waste management, interior climate and air quality. These requirements have been met in the head office, for example by decorating the walls with bamboo, by reusing ceilings and carpet tiles, by separating waste strictly during the operations, by making minimal use of paintwork and adhesives with volatile materials, and by keeping the MEP systems spotlessly clean. A score of sixty points would have sufficed to gain the label. Paula Batist of Siemens Real Estate: ‘But no one in the renovation team was satisfied with that. Everyone went for the maximum result.’ This joint effort led to a score of 72 points. Henk Dijkstra: ‘So not content with just scraping through, but a great big LEED Gold.’
From Energy Label G to B
The drastic upgrade was certainly effective. Air quality inside the head office has improved enormously. Jan Bessels (Siemens Real Estate): ‘The air is now extremely clean; in fact, it’s cleaner than the air outside!” Everyone is also very happy with the 35 percent energy savings that have been achieved, from energy label G to B. ‘In theory it would have been possible to make the building completely energy-neutral,’ says Dijkstra. ‘It’s already quite a feat that a 45-year-old building has been awarded a LEED Gold certification, which proves we have achieved a considerable sustainability target.’
Users have now had six months to become accustomed to their completely altered working environment. Satisfaction all round, reports Jan Bessels. ‘This renovation shows what can be achieved with such an outmoded building.’