News, Newsletter Article | GRC Study Tour Dispatches | 06.15.16

GRC Study Tour Dispatch: The Edge

The Edge, Photo courtesy David Cash

The Edge, Photo courtesy David Cash

When you step into The Edge in Amsterdam, you step into the future…and the future is now.

The Edge is arguably the most energy efficient, sustainable, internet-of- things office building in the world. With a genius combination of low tech and high tech solutions, the developers, architects and engineers create a work environment that minimizes environmental impact while maximizing worker comfort, productivity, and happiness.

The fourteen story building is oriented to optimize the sun’s heat in the winter and minimize exposure in the summer. Passive air-flow systems reduce the need for energy intensive heating and cooling. Daylighting reaches most office spaces through glass walls and an atrium ceiling. Attention to detail ranges from solar panels integrated into the siding of the building to the fitness centers where electricity is generated by running on the treadmills and spinning on stationary bikes. Rainwater that falls on the building and property is stored and used for toilet flushing and other grey water uses.

The largest tenant is Deloitte, a global consulting and analytic firm. Each staffer has a comprehensive app that schedules people in the open layout to rooms each day that best fits their needs (e.g., a quiet room to review a contract, a conference room for a meeting, or the inspiring brainstorm room with smart boards, huge touch screens, standing conference tables and couches, and automated espresso machines (that are also internetted so if they malfunction, facilities staff know and can fix the problem.)

Lights go off in rooms that are vacant, and a safety bot glides through the building in the evening (in a beta test) and even will suggest to a lone staff member on floor four that if she moves to floor three, the lights and other systems can be fully shut off on floor three.

The spaces in the building are open and airy and light and clean and the spaces support collaboration, and clear-headed thinking, and already, managers are finding that they can out-compete other consulting firms for the best candidates because people want to work in such a smart building.

We are in Amsterdam on a tour of clean energy and climate friendly technologies, but we could just as easily be in Singapore or Nairobi or Delhi or Ho Chi Min City or Sao Paulo or Mexico City or Sydney or Charlotte or Boston. When these cities, and their countries, put in place innovative building codes, energy efficiency regulations, incentives for utilities and forward-looking training, office buildings throughout the world will also be on the cutting edge of the clean energy future.

David Cash,  Dean of McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts, Boston

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