Written by Ysbrand Visser, Duurzaam Gebouwd
Taking into account the many interested young people too, CFP Green Buildings recently hit the bullseye again with the CFP Innovation Day. Alongside a range of familiar sustainability issues, newer products were also presented. These included housing construction on pontoons and a label for healthy buildings.
Of course, it has been known for some time that we can also fit coloured solar panels on our buildings. Even so, brothers Roelof and Lourens van Dijk won the 2021 Ambition Prize with their Soluxa panels as part of the Jan Terlouw Innovation Prize. The duo’s attractive panels are given the desired colour in their own factory with an ultra-thin coating. The darker they are, the higher the yield, which also depends on the quality and the external manufacturer of the panels. On a roof, those colours don’t really come into their own or it would have to be on a listed building, which explains why these coloured panels are especially recommended for outer walls. They can even be used in balustrades.
Green roofs and façades are not new either. But what Cloud Garden shows with their green walls, like those at the Floriade horticultural exhibition, appeals to almost everyone. And even now after the Floriade has ended, the Aeres University of Applied Sciences façade (photo below) can still be admired in Almere. The company will have experienced an explosion in demand not only for this reason, as nature-inclusive construction, with aspects such as water storage, cooling and water retention, is increasingly higher on the various construction agendas.
Remeha came up with a new solution for apartment buildings at this innovation event. In the case of apartments, it is difficult to install heat pumps for individual households, because where do you put all the outdoor units? Remeha solves that problem with a centralised hybrid heat pump system and decentralised distribution sets. Just like district heating. For very cold days, there is still a boiler in the system, with individual billing not being a problem. Given climate change, that boiler will only be needed for ‘emergencies’, says Rick Bruins (Remeha). ‘Moreover, the distribution set is also prepared for all-electric.’
The Wezoo app for highly flexible office space rental and Joulz’s smart energy management systems were also of special interest. They provide an integrated energy infrastructure for business parks, so that the peaks and troughs caused by current congestion episodes are far better matched to individual needs. With a properly integrated solution, a reduction of more than half of current gas consumption is on the cards.
Laurens de Lange has already pointed out on the Duurzaam Gebouwd sustainability platform for the real estate sector that pigs have been subject to the Dutch Animal Health and Welfare Act since 1992. This was followed by the Dutch Low Ammonia Emission Animal Housing Systems Decree (dating from 2015), which was further tightened on 1 January 2020. This legislation includes strict requirements to ensure the welfare of, for instance, pigs. This is in marked contrast to the rules on human health in buildings.
This explains why Han Vrijmoed, after a thorough training in building biology in Germany, is taking the Dutch market by storm with the Healthy Building Label (Gezonde Woning Keur.). This contains aspects that go far beyond the familiar ‘healthy’ labels, not to mention the limited requirements in the Dutch Buildings Decree. We have now had to deal with COVID-19, ventilation is very much in the spotlight and we also know that a healthy building significantly improves cognitive performance.
Properly ventilated and cooled buildings are far from commonplace in 2023, and what about the toxic substances in floors, walls and ceilings? For example, how does underfloor heating affect the plasticisers in the floor? And what do building managers know about air ventilation, mould and electromagnetic fields? Vrijmoed reveals a whole host of pollutants in buildings. Ranging from different types of formaldehyde than are measured within the BREEAM and WELL labels, to pesticides and volatile organic compounds you would rather not have in your body.
The focus on healthy buildings is not only widening rapidly, but mandatory reports (imposed by the EU) are increasingly forcing us to consider and take action against the harmful consequences in our environment and our buildings. High time, then, for the Healthy Building Label?
Finally, we will discuss seafarer Willem Jan Landman’s Vloat concept (Circular Floating Districts). He has discovered a niche in the market consisting of derelict pontoons and dry docks. The industry sometimes writes off pontoons within five to ten years, even though they are still fully seaworthy. Moreover, they are used to transporting huge volumes, so a simple house and even a modest residential district poses no problem. And so it is simply a matter of an appropriate architectural design, a suitable mooring with permit, and another housing problem is solved.
Vloat’s sketches are futuristic, but its creators are very down to earth. For example, with circular, self-sufficient and climate-proof housing, they are clearly opting for a sustainable path and want to offer the houses purely in the social rental segment. This is also because the vessel has to be overhauled every fifteen years (steel maintenance) and the lease will then expire. By choosing CLT’s modular concept homes, Landman aims to contribute to the carbon reduction the planet so desperately craves. It also includes preventing the disposal of a massive pile of steel scrap, which would otherwise have to be laboriously disposed.
‘Yes, we believe we can change the world in this way’, says Landman. ‘And these plans are not all that utopian, as dredging companies have creating housing on pontoons before.’ He also adds that the vessels do not pose any problem, as they are significantly oversized. The largest version, measuring 97 by 30 metres, can accommodate 60 to 140 homes!
Anyone who thought we were dealing here with rather far-fetched ideas is underestimating the current partners of Circular Floating Districts. From rock-solid Dutch housing associations to interested clients from Ireland, the UK and Sweden, they all see potential in this exceptional innovation.
If you can’t wait for more inspiration regarding innovative solutions, we will be organising another innovation day soon. You will be very welcome!