CEU Campus Design Wins BREEAM Environmental Certification, First University in CEE

Central European University's new campus design has been granted “Very Good” status by BREEAM standards, the world's leading assessment method for sustainable buildings. CEU is the second higher education institution in continental Europe and the first in Central and Eastern Europe to receive this distinction. 

"CEU is not only a center of academic excellence, but of innovation, and sustainability is an area of innovation that is important to our future," CEU President  and Rector John Shattuck said at the awards ceremony July 10. "What a team effort this has been. This brings our entire community together. We are proud to be at the forefront of a movement to build sustainable buildings in which great activities can be done."


CEU President and Rector John Shattuck. Photo: CEU/Daniel Vegel.

Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) is administered by Britain’s Building Research Establishment (BRE). BREEAM standards were used in the design in order to support CEU’s commitment to sustainability.

"This project was unique for BREEAM," said Zsombor Barta, BREEAM assessor who collaborated with CEU's campus redevelopment team, architects, environmental consultants, contractors and others to compile and review assessments of the project design. The project combines protected building elements, new construction elements, and renovation, and is located in a UNESCO World Heritage buffer zone. Today's award is the result of a two-year cooperation that involved BRE and CEU developed a project-specific, or bespoke, certification scheme. "It has been a great honor for me to have collaborated with Hungarian, Irish and British partners on this certification."

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, director of the campus redevelopment project.


Sustainability Officer Logan Strenchock,Campus Project Officer Zofia Pazitna, CEU President John Shattuck, BREEAM Assessor Zsombor Barta, Campus Project Director Pal Baross, Architects Brian Barber and Mate Hidasnemeti, Market-Strabag's Tamas Krenn.

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 concept is to maintain comfort in work environments through the seasons," said CEU Sustainability Officer Logan Strenchock. "We have a robust outside structure enabling fresh air circulation in summer and keeping heat in in winter. We will also have a complex system of measurement so we know how much energy and water are used, floor by floor. We'll be able to use this data to set building management strategies to reach new goals."

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 - the latter offered a solution to environmental challenges as well. 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.

"The courtyards offer zones outside the extreme heat and cold," said O'Donnell & Tuomey Architect Brian Barber at the July 10 event. "These are large spaces that are naturally lit."

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.


A rendering of the new roof garden planned for Nador utca 13 and 15.

"We'll plant native species on the roof garden, ones that are beneficial to birds and bees, and keep our green life green because rainwater will be collected and circulated in an irrigation system," said Strenchock. "There will be outdoor space for musical events, film or presentation screenings, and, closest to my heart, an edible garden with organic vegetables for us to eat. We look to capitalize on the whole project to promote sustainable building by hosting events in our new space."

Background information

O'Donnell & Tuomey work in tandem with Hungarian partner M-Teampannon with project construction being undertaken by the MARKET-STRABAG consortium of companies. The €34 million project involves renovation and new construction of approximately 35,000 square meters at the downtown campus.

For more information on CEU's Campus Redevelopment project including renderings, visit: http://www.ceu.edu/redevelopment. O'Donnell and Tuomey were recently named the 2015 recipients of the Royal Gold Medal, the world’s most prestigious architecture award.

For more on BREEAM certification: http://www.breeam.org/