At Deloitte’s office in Amsterdam, human-centric connected lighting is about more than energy savings
By Paul Tarricone
Calling The Edge the “greenest building in the world” is not hyperbole. The 15-story office building in Amsterdam has the grades to back up that claim. BREEAM—the global sustainability assessment method—gave The Edge a rating of “Outstanding,” its 2016 award for “Offices-New Construction” and a sustainability score of 98.36 percent, the highest ever awarded.
The 40,000-sq meter (430,000-sq ft) building has a host of sustainability features, which include solar panels, aquifer thermal energy storage for heating and cooling, and rainwater harvesting to flush the toilets and irrigate the gardens. Lighting is a crucial piece of the puzzle. Sensors integrated into the building’s Ethernet-powered LED system continuously measure occupancy, movement, lighting levels, humidity and temperature, allowing it to automatically adjust energy use.
What follows is a look at how Deloitte, developer OVG Real Estate, interior architect Fokkema & Partners and Philips Lighting have used connected lighting to craft both a sustainable and human-centric office at The Edge.
FIRST: THE VISION
The quantifiable metrics of sustainable design are just half the story at The Edge. The building’s main tenant, Deloitte, was adamant that sustainability act as a means to a better workplace, not just lower energy bills. BREEAM emphasized this point when announcing its award to The Edge: “No rating can fully convey the success of the project on a social level: happy, comfortable and healthy workers who are more productive because of the environment they work in.”
Deloitte sought an office that would breed collaboration and increase employee satisfaction, while reducing absenteeism. “Our aim,” says Erik Ubels, director of IT & workplace services, “was to make The Edge the best place to work.” A happy side effect turned out to be recruitment. Deloitte reports that professionals are applying for employment at the Netherlands branch because they want to work in the building.
Making an office interesting, inviting and, well, fun, required a different way of looking at space planning. Or as architect Fokkema & Partners described it, “the end of the desk as we know it.” Says Babette Bouman, “If you have an activity-related work environment, you can choose wherever you like to sit. I think the ‘office’ of the future will be meeting places, cafeterias and a place to meet colleagues to collaborate.” Much of that is embodied by The Edge.
SECOND: HOW IT WORKS
The linchpin of this smart building is a connected lighting system that uses nearly 6,500 LED luminaires distributed throughout the building’s 15 floors. Approximately 3,000 of these LED panels have integrated sensors (about 28,000 total) that capture and store data on building operations.
The sensors have also turned The Edge into a personalized space for Deloitte staff. Each employee is connected to the building via a smartphone app, which enables them to find a parking space, navigate the building and find a free desk. No one has an assigned desk; the company has 2,500 workers at The Edge, but less than half that number of desks. “Work spaces” include the sun-splashed atrium, sitting desks, standing desks, meeting rooms, balcony desks, work booths and concentration rooms, and are assigned based on an employee’s schedule for the day.
Employees then use the app to customize the light levels and temperature for their work area. The app can even track their progress in the company fitness center and alert the coffee machine to how an individual likes her coffee.
Just as satisfying as the perfect cup of coffee is the data culled from the sensors that show everything from occupancy patterns throughout the day, to areas where light levels, heating and cooling can be reduced, to unused rooms that can be skipped for cleaning. The analytics reveal trends—for instance, if the data shows no occupancy of a floor on a Friday afternoon over a period of months, the HVAC and lighting can be switched off.
Human-centric meets sustainability.