All buildings will be supplied with energy as sustainably as possible. Where this has not yet happened, we will connect all buildings to heat pumps in the coming years and link them to the central energy system. This transition will require additional electricity. We wish to provide part of this by generating our own sustainable energy on the campus, for example by installing solar panels.
In addition to modifications to the buildings and installations, we are also reducing the consumption of fossil-fuel energy through our purchasing. The Dutch electricity mix features an excessively large share of coal. By means of its energy procurement, the UvA is trying to exert pressure on a developing energy market by receiving 100% wind energy from the energy supplier Vattenfall from 2022 onwards. From 2024 onwards, this is even intended to be an additional source of energy. This means that the UvA will be the first customer of new energy generation. In other words, the contract will stimulate the construction of new wind turbines. We will also offset our CO2 emissions related to our gas consumption until we are completely gas-free. Finally, the UvA has been purchasing Guarantees of Origin (GoO) since 2013. These are certificates that demonstrate the origin of energy.
At the Roeterseilandcampus, ground source heat pumps with seasonal thermal energy storage (STES) have been installed. STES is an underground system that stores heat for winter and cooling for summer. As a result, 900,000 m3 of gas has been saved in recent years. In 2022, gas consumption at the REC decreased by almost 60% (295,000 m3) compared to 2021, resulting in a reduction of approximately 50% (556 tons) in CO2 emissions. This reduction is equivalent to heating 197 average Dutch households for a year. The CO2 reduction will continue to increase as the emission factors decrease due to the increasing use of green energy in the Netherlands. REC is already expected to be virtually gas-free by 2025, which is 5 years earlier than expected.
Building F on Amsterdam Science Park was the UvA's largest energy consumer and one of our largest natural gas consumers. For the hot water supply and heating, it was dependent on a large boiler in building E. This boiler was active all year round, also in the summer. In order to set the system up more efficiently, (reused) electric boilers were installed to produce hot water. This means that the boiler can be switched off during summer. Building F was also connected to the central STES facility and other measures were taken, which proved to be effective. In 2022, gas consumption at the Science Park decreased by 19% compared to 2021. Read more about the sustainability efforts at Amsterdam Science Park here.
The majority of our natural gas is used in the University Quarter. Here, the foundations of a natural gas-free future have been laid by means of a Subsurface Energy Plan. As a first major step, the new university library with seasonal thermal energy storage (STES) is currently being built. After the renovation, natural gas will only be used for peak loads. Ultimately, the entire University Quarter will also be natural gas-free by 2040.
If you would like more information about efforts to make the UvA’s buildings sustainable.