Newly Designed CEU Becomes First BREEAM Certified Higher Education Institution in CEE

Budapest, July 8, 2015 – Central European University's new campus design has been granted “Very Good” status by BREEAM officials, making it the second higher education institution in continental Europe and the first in Central and Eastern Europe to receive this distinction. BREEAM principles – the world's leading design and assessment method for sustainable buildings – were used in the design in order to support CEU’s commitment to sustainability. Press are invited for the certificate handover ceremony and a tour of the construction site on Friday, July 10 at 10 a.m. in CEU's Oktober Hall, Oktober utca 7, ground floor.

"The new design will reduce overall energy consumption by one-third, significantly lowering the environmental impact of CEU's buildings. We are also looking at saving close to €1 million per year thanks to energy efficiency, prudent management of the space and increased user consciousness regarding sustainable practices,” said Liviu Matei, CEU's provost and pro-rector. “We have a core of students, faculty, and staff who are dedicated to these causes and we decided we wanted to achieve very high environmental standards."

The Campus Redevelopment project is the result of detailed consultations and analysis with members of the University community, experts in sustainable building and construction practices, and local heritage authorities. It was of utmost importance to award-winning architects Sheila O'Donnell and John Tuomey to acknowledge the way people work and study in the space while delivering a comfortable and functional campus environment. The architects have designed a number of BREEAM certified campus buildings in urban environments, corresponding to the profile of CEU's needs.

“This certificate is the result of over three years of collaborative work, combining the determination of the University leadership with the single-minded project management and a design team aspiration to create an environmentally sustainable new campus,” said Pal Baross, FRICS, the director of the Campus Redevelopment Project.

O'Donnell and Tuomey's “green” CEU design incorporates eco-friendly elements, a key factor in blending new construction into the existing built environment. In addition to energy-efficient equipment and building management systems, and the added ecological value of a rooftop garden of native species that will span two buildings, CEU received a 100 percent BREEAM transportation rating for providing plentiful cycle racks and showers for bike commuters. The architects also carefully considered how natural light and shading can be managed with architectural elements and building controls to positively impact the working conditions within the campus. Further aiding in energy conservation, the new campus will rely less on mechanical heating, cooling and lighting systems to provide ideal internal conditions, and instead capitalize on natural lighting and shading elements, and a robust building fabric to maintain a high quality work environment.

“The new CEU design is a 'bespoke' or customized assessment. It is complex as the evaluation has to take into account existing buildings and structures, some of them historic. Another feature that makes the project special is the management's efforts to work with the surrounding community which has a vested interest in the University,” said CEU's BREEAM certifier Zsombor Barta. “And, finally, what's truly unique to Hungary is the commitment to implementing international best practices during the construction – to monitor air quality, reduce dust and communicate with workers in their native languages.”

CEU is working with the Market Strabag Consortium to maintain prudent sustainable site management practices during the construction period and to assure BREEAM certification for the construction stage of the project.

The architects were inspired by the city of Budapest and its elegant courtyards. They believe that respect for legacy is a very important part of design, which is imperative as CEU dwells in downtown Budapest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site buffer zone.

"A connected campus is the first principle of our work – connected to the city and connected within itself," Tuomey said. "As it was, the walls between the buildings were too strong. In the design, there is a focus toward the courtyards – ways of making interconnections between the buildings, not only on the ground floor, but on the upper levels. This is the tradition of Budapest: a city of courtyards and passages."

The pitched roofs with windows to the sky in these courtyards will give a feeling of openness and they will enhance social and academic spaces. The planned rooftop garden, which will have spectacular views of both St. Stephen's Basilica and the Hungarian Parliament, will provide a campus atmosphere in addition to valuable green space.

"We want the new campus to feel like it's made for Budapest and that it's part of the inherited cultural landscape of this city," Tuomey emphasized.


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