Warm Sweater Day: the most cheerful climate campaign is now also taking place at THUAS

Which warm sweater will you be wearing on 5 February? If you’re planning to go to THUAS on 5 February, you’ll definitely need to put on a sweater. That’s because the heating will be turned down a degree across all of THUAS’ sites for national Warm Sweater Day 2021. More and more Dutch people are getting involved with this campaign each year. THUAS is taking part for the first time. Gerard Willemse, team leader of the Management and Maintenance department, is the person who will be adjusting the heating boiler. “This initiative fits in nicely with everything we have already been doing on sustainable management and maintenance.”

Warm Sweater Day – the most cheerful and the largest climate campaign in the Netherlands, was set up by the Netherlands’ Climate Alliance (Klimaatverbond Nederland) to persuade people that everyone can have an impact on the climate. We can achieve a lot together. By wearing a warm sweater and putting the heating down by 1 degree, we will emit 6 per cent less CO2 and save the same percentage of energy. If we all do that together as Dutch citizens, on that one day we will be able to save the energy used by 3 of the Wadden Islands. So now you know why you have to get a sweater from your wardrobe for some extra warmth, whether you are at THUAS or at home. After all, even if you are working from home that day, you will also naturally set the thermostat a degree lower on 5 February.

Windmills at sea

Let us firmly underline that this kind of campaign is entirely in keeping with the sustainability policy at THUAS. Gerard Willemse: “People are still largely in the dark about that policy. We are continually in the top 4 of the sustainability classifications of Dutch universities of applied sciences. However, if you take a look at the most recent National Student Survey, we do not get such a great score on this point. Many students apparently have the impression that we do little as a university of applied sciences in this area. It is true that we have not fitted solar panels to the roofs at THUAS, and we do not have windmills on our campuses. However, we have achieved a lot of sustainability benefits, for instance by switching from standard lights to LED lamps, and by replacing old air treatment units with modern, sustainable alternatives. We purchase so much green energy each year, there must be a windmill somewhere in the North Sea spinning around just for THUAS. However, people are not very aware of these things. So if the Warm Sweater Day can get the conversation started, then that is something I celebrate.”

‘With the new air treatment units, we recover 70 per cent of heat;
we only recovered 35 per cent with the old ones.

– Gerard Willemse

The light switch by the door

THUAS controls its climate management centrally. Gerard: “That’s a nice development, but there is a point that needs to be made here. Staff members and students just think that it’s not their responsibility to turn down the heating or switch off the lights when they are the last to leave the classroom. This is a tendency you mainly see in large buildings, as people think that the lights go off automatically. But it doesn’t work like that. You can always control the heating using the thermostat control. There is still a light switch by the door in each classroom, and often an air vent by the window.”
If this is the case, will someone be able to turn up the heating for themselves on 5 February? Gerard: “Yes, that’s possible. But on 5 February, it will not have much of an effect. That’s because we will be controlling the heating centrally, which means the supply temperature of the heating will be slightly lower. So even if you set the thermostat control to 5, it will still be around 1 degree cooler than usual.”

Lightly dressed in the middle of winter?

Does Gerard have a favourite sweater that he’ll be wearing on the day? “Yes, sure. It’s a lambswool sweater. It’s not itchy, and it is extremely comfortable, even if the room gets a little warmer. It’s a truly natural product.”
For Gerard, it’s just one small step from his lambswool sweater to the ‘Trias Energetica’ concept, that he uses as guideline for the management and maintenance of the buildings. “When it’s cold outside, the first thing you do is put on a warm sweater. Then you will warm up using your own energy. That is the ‘Trias Energetica’ concept: insulate first, then adjust the heating, not the other way around. The same also applies to our buildings – you limit the demand for energy by insulating them. Next you look at how much energy you still need to heat the building, for instance by using green energy. Finally, you absorb the peaks of extreme cold with fossil fuels. Basically, when someone comes into THUAS in the middle of winter dressed in their summer clothes, it goes against the Trias Energetica concept.”

‘By replacing conventional lighting with LED lights, and by moving from Laan van Poot to the Sports Campus, we have saved a total of 9.3 terajoules. This is the same amount of energy that is used by 807 households in an entire year.’

– Gerard Willemse

Cold fingers and lots of fun

As the team leader of the Management and Maintenance department, Gerard manages a single project that is extremely broad, namely making all of THUAS’ buildings sustainable, and that takes a very long time. “I’m currently developing a road map in line with the Paris Climate Agreement for a portfolio of energy neutral buildings in 2050, or as soon as our ambition permits. Under the Climate Agreement, by that year all buildings, so also THUAS’ buildings, will have to be as good as energy neutral. We have reached an advanced stage at our new sites, the Zuiderpark Sports Campus and the Delft site. The Delft design was more about how we could keep the building cool during summer rather than warm in winter, as that site has such a high insulation value. For the high-rise building, our oldest site, we are looking closely with consultants at how we can also make that enormous building almost energy neutral by 2040. There are 2 options: either we will do more with our heat storage, or we create a smart grid with our neighbours. This is a network in which we will exchange energy, namely heat and cold.” We are researching this in close consultation with the Municipality of The Hague.

Apart from some cold fingers, Warm Sweater Day on 5 February will also be lots of fun. There will certainly be lot of strange and wonderful sweaters on show. Climate change? Sustainability? We can do something about this ourselves. If anyone would like to know more about the Trias Energetica concept at THUAS, just pay Gerald Willemse a visit. He will be more than pleased to tell you all about it. “Sustainability is completely integrated into the planning, but requires thorough preparation. That is why we have the road map.”