The Netherlands Institute of Ecology: Raising the Bar with Cradle-to-Cradle Design | Yan's Earth |

The Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO) is a truly innovative green laboratory.


From NIOO director Louise Vet: ”Ecologists... do high-level research on genomes and biodiversity, and I wanted the building to express this.” Thus, she chose Claus en Kaan Architecten, a Dutch architectural practice with a track record in laboratory design and challenged the architects to design a building that embodied cradle-to-cradle principles.


Claua en Kaan rose to the challenge with a variety of sustainable strategies. The linear building, 335 feet by 100 feet, has west-facing, sealed laboratories that manage heat gain via a deep brise-soleil. Windows on the east side are operable, allowing daylight and views of the surrounding environment, populated with native plants.

Vertical light-wells span two floors; a core of support labs not requiring daylight occupies the center of the building. The building’s columns were spaced in such a way as to allow for flexibility in future renovation, which is likely to prove a key factor in its longevity, and a green roof shares space with a roof deck.

Heating and cooling is handled via underground storage, making use of deep vertical pipes that store heat from solar arrays and the building at 984 feet below ground. A radiant, in-floor system circulates the warmed water through the concrete floors.

Additionally, the building treats all of its own greywater on site, and releases it into the surrounding landscape.

The architects here are to be commended on this design, as green laboratories are notoriously hard to design. By embodying cradle-to-cradle principles — as well as tailored green build strategies — the Netherlands Institute of Ecology raises the bar.

Via Lauren Moss