Science - March 19, 2009

FORUM II: TALLER, THINNER, MORE SUSTAINABLE…

And we’re calling it Orion. Or Agora. Or maybe just Forum II. We haven’t decided on a name yet. What is certain is that the new education building will be the tallest, the slimmest and the most sustainable building on the campus.

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To start with its appearance, Forum II will be the tallest in the family at 45 metres – nine metres taller than big brother Forum I. And that’s just the first phase. Options are left open to add a couple of floors to the currently planned ten. Forum II in all its glory will then be 55 meters high.
On the other hand, the new building will be a bit less plump than Forum I. Its ‘footprint’ will be fifteen by fifty metres, considerably less than Forum I’s seventy by seventy. However, there will be a striking family resemblance. Like the other central buildings on the campus, the new education building will be a ‘monolith’. In other words, a stark and angular block. But it will be a green block and it will stand head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to sustainability. That sustainability will be calculated using Greencalc, software with an index for measuring sustainability that was developed by the Government Buildings Agency. Forum II has to score at least 180: the absolute minimum required to get a yellow D label, familiar from household appliances.
But we’re aiming higher, says Jan Driesse, who is responsible for the building project within Facilities and Services. The aim is to score between 200 and 215, in line with Wageningen UR’s recently expressed ambition to take the lead when it comes to sustainability. With such a score, Forum II will get close to a green B label. For comparison: Alterra scores 173 (D: yellow), and Forum I scores 163 (E: orange).
However, it’s too soon to celebrate. Efforts to achieve sustainability do have to stay within the budget. What is more, investments in sustainability have to pay for themselves within ten years. The only exception is for investments needed to reach the lower limit of 180. How the sustainable goals are to be reached is still unclear, but energy use is sure to be a key issue. Eighty percent of the environmental tax on a building is based on its energy use. So that is where there is the most to be gained, says Driesse.
Forum II will definitely make use of thermal storage. It will also be smart in its use of orientation to the sun; this is one of the ideas of architects’ bureau Ector Hoogstad. The sun should give optimal light but not too much warmth, as it takes a lot of energy to cool overheated rooms. In July, Ector Hoogstad will come up with a provisional design based on these principles.

ORION, AGORA OR FORUM II

The name to go on the birth announcement card hasn’t been chosen yet. But a committee led by Education director Pim Brascamp has given it some thought and come up with three options: Orion, Agora and Forum II. This proposal has been with the project group for communication on building projects for a while now. They have not expressed a preference yet; opinions are divided. In the end the executive council will choose the name. / Albert Sikkema

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