A pioneering cooling and heating system for a school in the town of Cuijk in Brabant has won the Vernufteling prize for 2018. Nelissen Engineers were awarded the prize for the most innovative engineering project.  

The award was presented last Tuesday evening at the New Year's reception of Koninklijke NLingenieurs, the branch association for engineering firms. The jury assessed the submitted projects according to four criteria: innovativeness, economic value, technological quality and social significance. 

Meuse water

In the Merlet college in Cuijk, completed late 2017, water extracted from the Meuse river is used for cooling and heating purposes. This was the first time that such a system, combining river water and heat pumps, had been used at a school.

And so, in the jury's opinion, the project complied perfectly with the criteria. Economic value was created through the use of the Meuse. The Meuse water pump results in a 30 to 40% energy saving versus a standard air heat pump. Last but not least, this is an example of a practical, innovative project, according to the jury, whose technology is also very applicable elsewhere. 

The Merlet college uses Meuse water to heat or cool the building as necessary, all year round. 


Public prize

The public prize was awarded to the Tauw advisory and engineering firm. They were responsible for transforming the provincial N470 road in the province of Zuid-Holland into an 'energy road', with solar panels in the noise barriers, a battery for energy storage, smart road lighting and other CO2-saving measures. 

The Vernufteling prize is awarded annually to a project by a Netherlands-based engineering firm. It is an initiative by the Koninklijke NLingenieurs branch organisation and De Ingenieur technology magazine. Director Jacolien Eijer of Koninklijke NLingenieurs was excited about the entrants. 'This year again, the companies have proven that they attach great importance to innovation and sustainability. All these projects are admirable because they're simply effective, they offer a solution and they're upscalable.'

Read more about the winners here and all the other nominees.

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