Smart Solutions for Sustainability on CEU’s New Campus

Smart technologies and intelligent design that significantly lower energy consumption will be implemented on CEU’s new campus – this was the topic of the business forum “Invisible Building Intelligence” co-hosted by CEU Business School and the Embassy of Ireland on April 26.

Irish Ambassador Pat Kelly at the business forum Invisible Building Intelligence. Image credit: CEU / Daniel Vegel
Irish Ambassador Pat Kelly at the business forum Invisible Building Intelligence. Image credit: CEU / Daniel Vegel

“We have been greatly inspired by the ongoing development of CEU’s campus here in historic Pest. Though I am a layman in terms of construction I can fully appreciate the importance of sustainability in construction and operation”, said Pat Kelly, Ambassador of Ireland to Hungary, adding that he is pleased that CEU’s partners in creating such sustainable buildings are award-winning Irish architects Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomey.

The idea behind intelligent design is not merely that technology enables it – climate change necessitates it, participants said. Urban buildings are one of the major sources of greenhouse emissions. The global population is expected to swell to 9 billion by 2050, with 7 billion people living in cities.

"This means that we have a serious responsibility towards the planet to make our buildings more energy efficient, and technology can help us with that,” said Achilles Georgiu, director of the MSc in IT Management program and adjunct professor at CEU Business School.

Mel Horwitch, Dean of CEU Business School. CEU / Daniel Vegel
Mel Horwitch, Dean of CEU Business School. CEU / Daniel Vegel

As interconnected sensors become more affordable, and people use more and more smart devices, an immense amount of data is available that can be used to improve the efficiency of energy use, among other things. One of the most successful and popular ways of analyzing sensor data and suggesting efficient solutions is Waze, a navigation application that uses the GPS data of its users to map congested roads, and helping them to avoid these sections through optimized routes.

In a university context, the heating system and its heat sensors could be linked to the booking system, thereby heating rooms just before they are to be used, and switching heating off after the event. The data also enables predictive analytics, i.e. observing the patterns of how and when the building’s inhabitants use its facilities.

Achilles Georgiu talks about how smart technologies can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions of buildings. Image credit: CEU / Daniel Vegel
Achilles Georgiu talks about how smart technologies can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions of buildings. Image credit: CEU / Daniel Vegel

“A system is rendered intelligent by strategies that optimize and innovate,” said John Tuomey of O’Donnell and Tuomey, the architectural firm that designed CEU’s renewed campus. To create an intelligent building, the architects first explored the context, and they found that courtyards are not only centerpieces of the buildings housing CEU, but also of the whole downtown Budapest area.

“The buildings of CEU were adjacent, but not connected, they almost did not know about each other,” said Tuomey. The architects aimed to remove the barriers and connect the buildings and the courtyards within. In addition to encouraging social interaction and creating a visually more transparent and navigable space, connecting and opening up the courtyards is also a key factor in sustainability.

John Tuomey talks about the significance of courtyards in CEU's campus redevelopment project. Image credit: CEU / Daniel Vegel
John Tuomey talks about the significance of courtyards in CEU's campus redevelopment project. Image credit: CEU / Daniel Vegel

“We covered the courtyards with intelligent roofs in different angles and shapes, taking into account the orientation of the buildings, the movement of air and the use of the buildings," said O'Donnell and Tuomey partner Sheila O'Donnell. "Using intelligent roofs, the buildings can adapt to the different conditions throughout the year, which in the case of Budapest are quite extreme.”

Sustainability also requires a certain level of compromise from the users of the building. According to O’Donnell, temperatures in CEU spaces will have to be slightly lower in winter and slightly higher in the summer than is currently the case.

“We give life to old buildings and allow them to continue for future centuries by transforming them so they can adapt to contemporary uses," O'Donnell said.