A sustainable transition in Overvecht, Utrecht

With the Utrecht Science Park as its home base, knowledge and innovation agent Utrecht Sustainability Institute (USI) is carrying out research and innovation projects aimed at the sustainable use of energy, water and raw materials in the city and the region.

Inside out

Making buildings more sustainable is not only a crucial component of Utrecht University’s sustainable strategy, but also of the Dutch climate agreement. As part of the Inside Out project, the USI is investigating how energyguzzling, high-rise flats built in the 1960s can actually generate energy. To do this, the USI is collaborating with the Utrecht housing corporation Bo-Ex, residents, energy system analysts and behavioural researchers from Utrecht University and Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, architects and technical companies. The goal: to increase comfort, reduce energy costs and minimise disruption caused by work activities for the residents. The second phase of the project was completed in 2018. In this phase, a prototype flat was built on the top floor of a Bo-Ex building on Henriëttedreef. During this test phase, the resident herself was in control of the new features.

“It’s great to be involved in an innovative project. I’m the first in Europe, in an occupied flat. And it’s been tested in an existing building, not a new one. I think that’s fantastic!” Tineke van den Haselkamp, occupant of the pilot flat

“Residents are quite curious, especially about the fact that energy will be saved. That gets people interested. The less they have to pay, the more enthusiastic they become.” Wim Kleijssen, resident

Modular

In the test flat in the Utrecht neighbourhood of Overvecht, heating, ventilation, insulation, solar panels, blinds, piping and cables will be integrated into new multifunctional, prefabricated façade sections. The technology that is currently inside the flat will be on the outside: so, inside out. This means that a lot of sustainable technologies can be added to the building without inconveniencing the residents. The development of this Inside Out renovation system may prove to be a breakthrough for sustainable renovation and the implementation of the climate agreement.