The buildings of the University of Twente need to be vibrant and inspiring meeting places for students, staff, companies and other visitors. However, most of the energy that our university uses is used in our buildings. Therefore, we work to optimize the energy efficiency of our existing buildings, while ensuring that new buildings are sustainable. The goal is to reduce our building emissions by at least 49% in 2030, and 95% in 2050. At the same time, we try to use sustainably sourced materials in our buildings where possible.

Buildings at a glance
  • Through Multi-Year agreements, the UT has been working on making its buildings more sustainable since 2005
  • The UT has developed a roadmap to reach the goal of 95% less emissions from our buildings in 2050, that will be used in our long-term housing strategy
  • Our buildings are heated through a sustainable heat network, and cooled with our own innovative cooling circle


Planning Buildings

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Rob Nengerman: building a sustainable campus

Rob Nengerman is a construction project manager at the University of Twente. “That means I supervise large-scale building projects like Technohal and now Langezijds from start to finish”, he says. "Sustainability is a huge part of that process.”

Read the interview

Long-term strategy for housing

The University of Twente has developed a long-term strategy for housing to ensure that the buildings on our campus are future-proof. Making our buildings energy-efficient and sustainable is a major part of that strategy.

read more on the LTSH website

Campus warmed by district heating

The buildings on our campus are connected to the heat network (district heating) of Twence, a regional waste processor, and energy company Ennatuurlijk. The excess heat generated by the processor is used to warm the UT and large parts of the city of Enschede.

Read more (in Dutch)


One outcome of the Dutch climate agreement is a tailor-made roadmap that will be developed for social real estate, such as buildings of educational institutions. The UT has drawn up a UT specific energy roadmap for its buildings. This energy roadmap shows the state of all buildings: which measures can still be taken to improve energy usage, what energy savings can be achieved and what the associated costs are. This way, a roadmap is created that indicates the steps the UT can take to achieve the goals set out in the climate agreement.

  • Read more about the building roadmap

    The Netherlands is facing a major challenge to substantially reduce the use of primary energy. For this reason, the government has drawn up targets which are set out in a climate agreement. The aim is to reduce CO2 emissions with 49% by 2030 compared to 1990 and 95% by 2050. For the built environment this means a greenhouse gas reduction of 3.4 Mton by 2030 (3.4 billion kilograms of CO2. Other greenhouse gases are converted to their CO2 equivalent). In addition, the goal is to generate all electricity in a CO2 neutral manner by 2050. 

    On behalf of all universities, the VSNU has committed itself to mapping out the energy consumption of universities’ buildings - based on a selection of buildings - through a model developed by Royal Haskoning DHV. The UT has followed up this initial step by drawing up a more detailed energy roadmap for 42 UT buildings, also with Royal Haskoning DHV.   For each building, data is collected such as the building's function, year of construction, previous renovations, operating hours and the presence or absence of PV panels. In addition, specific information is entered about the insulating value of the building's shell (floors, walls, windows, doors and roofs) and energy and gas consumption for cooling, heating, ventilation, water heating, lighting and equipment.

    The model  then calculates the various energy saving measures required to achieve the desired result. Examples of these measures include: roof, facade and floor insulation; replacing existing windows with double and triple highly efficient insulating glass; applying PV panels; realizing district heating system; heat recovery ventilation systems; installing presence detection; selecting energy-efficient devices and installations; installing LED; and making buildings including its devices energy demand controlled.

    Besides the calculation of potential CO2 emissions also budget estimates are included. Please note that these estimates are based on current best available techniques and 2020 prices.

    The next steps

    The energy roadmap will need to be integrated into the Long-Term Strategy for Housing (LTSH) and the Multi-Year Maintenance Planning (MJOP) which are part of the Real Estate & Maintenance department (from Campus & Facility Management).

    The dilemma here is that not all the suggested measures can be covered by the current budget of the Long Term Strategy for Housing programme. The budget allocated to this, is based on financial parameters for sound financial management of the UT. In 2022, the ten-year LTSH strategy will be revised providing the opportunity to integrate the Energy roadmap further. Until then, the annual LTSH plans will address sustainability and for each building project plan the measures contributing to reducing energy consumption proposed in the Roadmap will be reviewed and this will be reported on through the SEE Programme.

    To make sure UT takes advantage of innovations and new best practices, the Roadmap will be regularly reviewed and updated (~2 years).

    More information on sustainability in building projects can be found the Campus Development webpage.

Heat network and The Cool Circle

Most buildings on the campus of the University of Twente are connected to the regional heat network of Twence. Through this heat network these buildings are heated in a sustainable manner with residual heat from waste processing.

The Cool Circle is a large basin measuring 10 meters deep and 36 meters wide that holds 10 million litres of cold water, which is used during the day to cool the connected buildings and research equipment. The chillers mainly cool the water at night, because the water temperature is naturally colder then, which saves a lot of energy.

  • Read more about The Cool Circle

    On top of that, it also saves costs, because the night rate for energy is lower than the day rate. The cool nighttime climate and air-cooled chillers join forces to cool the water down to approximately 8 to 10 degrees Celsius. The cold water is heavier and is added to the bottom of the basin, whereas water that has been pumped through the buildings returns with a temperature of about 18 degrees Celsius and is added to the top of the basin. The large temperature difference creates a so-called ‘thermocline’, which means that the warm and cold layers remain separate and that the warm water insulates the cold layer of water, as it were. The cold circulation system has a cooling capacity of 11 MegaWatts, which is equivalent to more than 70,000 refrigerators. The cold circulation system also acts as a storage buffer in the event of a major fire. Currently, de Horst, Carré, the Nanolab, the Waaier, the Ravelijn, Hal B, the Zilverling, the High-pressure lab, the Seinhuis and the Teehuis are connected to the cooling circle. 

    The system contains more than 10 million litres of water, which has to be treated in order to prevent corrosion and deposits on the cooling system, which we do by means of a helophyte filter. A helophyte filter uses helophytes to treat wastewater up to a point at which it is no longer harmful to the environment. Helophytes are plants that grow above water but take root in very wet soil, and they are capable of transporting oxygen to their roots themselves. 

    Behind the Horst, there are two fields that have been covered in gravel, sand and anti-root foil, on which we have planted reed plants. The dirty water flows onto the field on one side, before sinking through the gravel. In the soil, the waste materials are converted into nutrients for the plants in the filter. When it leaves the filter, the water is clean enough to return to the cold circulation system.