A textbook example of energy saving

Surely it can't be as simple as replacing a light bulb. “Well, it is. OK, it was far from simple, but renewing the lighting is exactly what we did in the Cambridgelaan Car Park” says Jos de VriesMaintenance Project Manager at the Facility Service Centre. Preparations for the Cambridgelaan Car Park project took six years but in the end it achieved exactly what was aimed for: enormous energy savings.

Energy saving projects in maintenance are easily underestimated, but are often extremely valuable in the transition to an energy-efficient, energy-generating university. De Vries knows all about that. He and his team carried out several maintenance projects in 2019. “Energy saving plays a major role in our projects. We are always looking to see whether and how things can be more sustainable,” says de Vries.

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Lighting in the Cambridgelaan Car Park before and after

And there was light

To achieve this in the Cambridgelaan Car Park involved major maintenance: a new lighting plan, an expansion of light sources and smart LED lighting. The car park not only needed to be more economical, but also more well-lit, as de Vries states: "public safety is very important; you want to avoid dark corners”. Spooky corners and energy-guzzling fluorescent tubes are now a thing of the past, and the savings figures speak for themselves: “We are saving 16,500 kWh a month in this car park compared to before, that amounts to 200,000 kWh annually. This is comparable to the total annual power supply of 70 households.”

Cambridgelaan Car Park’s energy consumption before and after

The Ruppert building

As we walk from the concrete car park we approach more concrete in the shape of a municipal monument; this is the Ruppert building, the iconic first building of Utrecht Science Park. However, classics like these require quite a lot of maintenance. The roof of The Ruppert building was thoroughly overhauled in 2019 and equipped with new thermal insulation material. “We are now interpreting the savings figures,” says de Vries. “When Real Estate & Campus saw the initial figures, they couldn’t believe their eyes; such large savings were not possible to them,” de Vries mentions as he laughs. “We'll see,” he says. In addition to this maintenance, the elongated roof is also being prepared for an even more sustainable future. After all, the roof’s design makes it extremely suitable for solar panels.

Plans for 2020 - 2021

De Vries has an impressive list of maintenance projects planned for the coming year. There's plenty to do. One of the largest energy consumers of Utrecht Science Park for example, the University Library (UBU), is in need of major maintenance. Work at the UBU started in 2019, but will take about two to three years in total. “We are now working on an analysis to improve the indoor climate at various places in the UBU, saving energy is essential” and so the UBU will steadily become more energy efficient as the maintenance work continues.

Some results can already be measured. For example, replacing two large ventilators in the library will save approximately 220,000 kWh. That's more than the savings we saw in the car park! Furthermore, the last bit of single glazing in the Ruppert building will be replaced by insulating glass in 2020. Single glazing, can you believe it? “Yes... it's about time,” agrees de Vries.


An energy-efficient, energy-generating future: De Vries is hopeful that this future will come to pass. He generates his own electricity at home with solar panels on his roof. De Vries is also a clear believer in do-it-yourself sustainability: “You have to look at what you can do across the board. I do like to travel, though...”


If you are curious about the whole energy scheme, you will find information about the university's energy consumption and emissions in the focus chapter energy.

The series 'green stories' aims to give a view into the work by some of the researchers, students and employees that, in various ways, commit themselves to driving sustainable change; in the world and at Utrecht University. #groenverhaal

Would you like to know what else is going on at the UU with regards to sustainability? Take a look at the Sustainability Monitor.