With arising worries about the environment, global warming and pollution, skyscrapers, office towers and even mosques are increasingly incorporating green and eco-friendly design and features. Here, as part of the sustainability week on WCN, we look at some of the world’s greenest buildings.One Angel Square, UK
‘Living walls’, green façades, vertical farming or roof gardens are increasingly featuring in the design-concept of buildings.
Recycling has never been more popular, with people encouraged to set aside paper, food, glass, plastic and more. But what about recycling our roads? Roads deteriorate over time, and rehabilitating works have to be carried out regularly — road signs warning about roadworks are a common sight. To make this rehabilitation more efficient, a time-saving and new environmentally-friendly technology has been introduced into the UK this year — having already been widely established in North America, Europe and China. The cold recycling technology involves the milling and granulation of damaged asphalt layers, which are then rebound, placed again and compacted. The cold recyclers — the machinery used in the process — recycle the underlying layers of the road. The old surface material is churned up with new binder in the machine’s mixing-chamber, before laying down the new, recycled mix immediately on the road behind. Mike Reay, managing director at Lane Rental Services which owns and operates the first UK cold recycler, says: “The recycling layer is the layer beneath the surface. Following the recycling a brand new surface course is installed — first a new structural re-strengthen layer is provided by the recycler and then a brand new layer, running surface, is provided straight after that’s been completed.”The cold recycler when operating in the project’s site needs the assistance of a second machine in order to complete the resurfacing work. “A final surfacing, after the recycling process, is always done with an asphalt paver,” says Martin Diekmann, Wirtgen’s recycling product manager. “This means that an average 4cm hot mix asphalt layer as a wearing course is paved on top of the recycled layer.”Wirtgen — the market leader in cold recycling technology — has sold 1,000 cold recycler machines worldwide so far, according to Diekmann, and this number is expected to grow.The cold recyclers can be used for thin asphalt layers or minor roads, as well as for thick asphalt or heavily-trafficked motorways. A UK firstThe first UK cold recycler made its way into the country three months ago. “I was aware of the machinery used in the States and also in Europe. I visited a site near Toulouse in France in 2015 and was impressed with the equipment,” says Reay.He adds: “This equipment has been tried and tested in the USA and Europe, therefore we had the confidence to introduce it to the UK.” The cold recycling technology was first used in the UK on a Highways England project to resurface 1.6km of the A1 at Brownieside in Northumberland. “I discussed it with AOne+ [the project’s contractor] and, obviously mindful of Highways England delivery programme requirements, we jointly decided the time was appropriate for this introduction to the UK. We ordered the machine and some trials schemes were authorised and have now been carried out,” says Reay.The Wirtgen 3200 CR cold recycler is owned and operated by Lane Rental Services and was especially custom-made for the project. Reay adds: “It has been custom-made for the UK market, not only for the 2016 works. It will be the UK machine.” The 3200 CR differs from the standard Wirtgen 2200 CR and 3800 CR on its operating width. While the 3200 CR cuts on a 3.2m width, the other two machines cut at 2.2 and 3.8m widths, respectively.
What links novelty personalised figurines, prosthetic body parts, components for cars and fighter jets, jewellery, guitars — and now, houses?They’re all on the list of objects that have been created using 3D printing technology. And while some of those projects will probably prove to be passing fads — feel free to take a moment at this stage to Google the inexplicable Japanese trend of printing models of Hollywood actor Keanu Reeves looking sad, if you really must — the use of 3D printing to produce entire buildings is gathering momentum.A few years ago, 3D printing or additive manufacturing (AM) was used in the construction sector mainly to produce construction components and niche parts, such as interior-decorating features, lighting effects and furniture. In recent years construction companies and national governments raised the bar with ambitious projects to 3D-print bigger and bigger structures. The goal was set: 3D print entire buildings. The challenge was laid down and the industry could only wait for the first buildings to rise. And they did. In several countries 3D-printed projects have been initiated, and in some they have now been finished. That is the case in Dubai, where the world’s first 3D-printed office building has recently opened its doors. The 250sq m single-storey building has been built in just 17 days using a 20ft tall 3D printer and a special mix of concrete — fibre-reinforced plastic and glass fibre-reinforced gypsum. The gigantic printer was 120ft long and 40ft wide and ‘worked’ almost alone, as it only needed one staffer to make sure it was functioning properly. The rest of the 18-person construction crew consisted of installers, electricians and mechanical engineers who completed the project for just a mere $140,000 in construction and labour costs, about half price of a comparable structure built using conventional methods. The building is set to have a practical use as the temporary headquarters for the Dubai Future Foundation, becoming home of Dubai’s Museum of the Future next year. The opening follows the launch of the ‘Dubai 3D Printing Strategy’ and the forecast that a quarter of buildings in Dubai will have 3D-printed elements by 2030.