Publication date: 22 February 2021 - 08:00

The Rijksmuseum has been awarded a BREEAM-NL In-Use sustainability certificate with a five-star ‘outstanding’ rating, making it the first museum in the world to achieve the highest possible score for the management of an existing building.

It’s great that the Rijksmuseum has received this recognition, but for us it doesn’t stop there – we are committed to contributing to a sustainable world in the coming years.

Taco Dibbits, director of the Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum has achieved this rating in the Management category thanks to its exceptionally high scores in the areas of water, energy and waste management. Previously, in 2017, the Rijksmuseum was the first museum in the world to receive a four-star ‘excellent’ ranking for sustainable management. This year the Rijksmuseum also scored better than three years ago in two other sections: Assets and Use.


The focus in 2021 will be on reducing energy consumption, recycling water (particularly rainwater), reducing the quantity of waste, and increasing sustainability awareness among staff. The Rijksmuseum has drastically reduced its energy consumption in recent years. In 2019, for example, the museum used over 16 per cent less gas than the previous year, and we intend to be operating completely gas-free by 2030. In the coming years, the Rijksmuseum will endeavour to reduce its annual energy consumption by at least 2 per cent. Water consumption per visitor has fallen by 13 per cent since 2019.

Surplus heat

The museum’s thermal energy storage is currently connected to adjacent buildings, so excess heat from the main building can be used to warm them.


Wherever possible, the Rijksmuseum purchases sustainable materials that can be reused – whether by us or our suppliers. Increasingly, our exhibitions are ‘circular’. For example, all the materials used for our Caravaggio-Bernini. Baroque in Rome exhibition – from the display cases to the fabrics on the partitions – went on to have a second life.


The Rijksmuseum Gardens play a crucial role in making the museum sustainable. This verdant urban oasis is home to increasing numbers of indigenous plant varieties. We are working together with an ecological consultancy to explore ways of modifying the garden to offer greater opportunities for threatened animal species. As part of this process we have already hung up ‘insect hotels’ and bat boxes, and last year we also installed nest boxes for the pair of peregrine falcons that spend time near the museum.


The Rijksmuseum has developed a special educational programme to raise children’s awareness of plants that contain dyes. At the Rijksmuseum’s Education Centre children learn how to make paint from the roots, leaves and flowers of various plant species growing in the Rijksmuseum Gardens. This year the Rijksmuseum also joined forces with the municipality of Amsterdam to start the School Gardens Centenary project through which children from an Amsterdam primary school will grow vegetables, fruits and flowers in the Rijksmuseum Gardens, with professional support. This project will be carried through into 2021.

International quality mark for sustainability

BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) is an international certification method used in more than 80 countries that was first developed by the Building Research Establishment (BRE). The Dutch Green Building Council made the method suitable for use in the Netherlands, which gave rise to the adapted name BREEAM-NL. There are four quality marks, one for existing buildings, one for newbuilds and renovation projects, one for demolition projects, and one for entire areas. The Rijksmuseum was assessed for the quality mark for existing, or ‘In-Use’ buildings. The design of the recently completed Netherlands Collection Centre (CC NL) in Amersfoort, where the Rijksmuseum and three partner institutions manage part of the national collection, was rated outstanding in the BREEAM-NL Newbuild and Renovation category.



foto: Paul Deelman