Sustainability Week on WCN: The world’s greenest buildings

Vania Goncalves 14 Oct 2016 GLOBAL EQUIPMENT & TECHNOLOGY

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

One Angel Square was officially opened by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2013.

The facility is the head office and support centre of retailer the Co-op and accommodates 3,000 employees.

It was declared the most environmentally-friendly building in the world when it opened, being rated by the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) as outstanding — with a score of 95.16%.

The 15-storey building’s green features include:

•    a twin skin façade that acts as a ‘duvet’ to insulate the offices in the winter and ventilate it in the summer;
•    a combined heat and power (CHP) plant that generates heat and power;
•    a soaring atrium that inundates the building with natural sunlight, reducing the artificial lighting requirement by almost half;
•    heat recovery from the IT system;
•    rainwater recycling systems for toilet flushing and irrigation.

The Bank of America Tower, USA

The Bank of America Tower was the first skyscraper in North America to achieve LEED Platinum certification and is one of the most ‘environmentally advanced skyscrapers in the world’, according to its developer Durst Organization.

The 218,000sq m, 51-storey office tower features an urban garden room, a 4.6MW combined heat and power plant, an ice cooling system, a water reclamation system and green roofs that utilise compost from tenant cafeteria waste.

It also includes CO2 monitors, waterless urinals and LED lighting.

The Shanghai Tower, China

Not only is the Shanghai Tower China’s tallest building — and the second tallest building in the world — but it is also one of the greenest.

The 632m-high skyscraper — which includes shops, offices, hotels and an observatory deck — has achieved LEED Platinum certification for core and shell and the China Green Building Three Star rating.

The tower has 270 wind turbines — producing 350,000kWh of electricity — and a combined cooling and heating power system. It also collects rainwater and reuses waste water.
The building’s sustainable strategies are able to reduce its carbon footprint by 34,000t annually.

Additionally, a third of the site is green space, according to the building’s architects, Gensler Shanghai.

Manitoba Hydro Place, Canada

The Manitoba Hydro Place in Winnipeg has received LEED Platinum certification in 2012.

Manitoba Hydro — the building’s owner — has said that the building is the most energy-efficient office tower in North America and the only one in Canada to achieve LEED Platinum certification.

The 22-storey building uses 70% less energy than a comparable office building of conventional design — savings over $500,000 in energy annually.  

It features south-facing winter gardens to capture solar energy during the winter months and a solar chimney to provide ventilation with minimum energy usage.

The tower also includes a geothermal system consisting of 280 wells — each 122m deep — for heating and cooling the building, natural ventilation via rising floors and energy efficient lighting, pumps and drives.
Taipei 101, Taiwan

Taipei 101 was completed in 2004 with over 185,800sq m of space across 101 floors.

The office building wasn’t designed to meet any environmental standards when built — as its design was done before the release of LEED and Taiwan’s own green building rating system (EEWH).

However, that didn’t prevent it from becoming one of the greenest buildings in the world today — the facility was upgraded to meet eco-friendly and energy-saving requirements.

The building’s low-flow water fixtures and dedicated water management systems reduce water usage by at least 30% when compared to an average building consumption —saving about 28M litres of potable water annually.

Low-mercury and no-mercury lamp fixtures were also installed in the building to reduce exposure levels and potentially toxic pollution — the current baseline permits a maximum of 90 pictograms of mercury per lumen-hour, but Taipei 101’s are as low as 58.5 pictograms in sourced lamps.

Its energy consumption was reduced by 33.41M kWh annually, saving more than US$2M a year.

Taipei 101 has achieved LEED Platinum certification in 2011.

The Crystal, UK

The Crystal is one of the world’s most sustainable buildings, having achieved Outstanding BREEAM and Platinum Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) — the highest classification in both certifications.

The building — designed by Wilkinson Eyre architects — was inspired in the many sides of a crystal.

It is an all-electric building which uses solar power and a heat pump to generate its own electricity. Other eco-friendly features include rainwater harvesting, black water treatment, and automated building management systems.

BMW Welt, Germany

BMW Welt is a multi-use centre used for meetings and promotional events and a vehicle delivery centre in Munich.

Its distinctiveness comes not only from its impressive structure, but also from its eco-friendly and energy-efficient features.

The building’s 16,000sq m cloud roof, which is supported by a structure of only twelve socketed columns, has 3,660 solar modules installed. This extraordinary array, manufactured by Dolarwatt and installed by SunStrom, produces a minimum of 824KWhp (kilowatt-peak) of energy.

The solar energy passing through the roof and facades increases the heating in the building, and its large walled areas contribute to its ventilation. The glass envelopes help to maintain the building’s surface temperature at a pleasant level.

Furthermore, outside greenery bind dust and generate a cooling effect.

Pixel, Australia

Pixel, designed and built as the ‘Future Office’, has achieved the highest Green Star score by Australia’s Green Building Council (GBCA) and is LEED Platinum and BREEAM certified.

The office building — developed by Grocon and designed by Studio55 — is Australia’s first carbon neutral building.

Its distinctive ‘pixilated sunshade system’ enables daylight to enter the office space and protects it from glare and heat gain, in the summer.

Pixel’s energy-efficient design includes double-glazed windows, day lighting and natural ventilation.

Its native-planted green roof harvests and collects all the water the building need — making it water neutral as well.

The building also features a vacuum toilet system, an anaerobic digestion system and reduced car parking.

Additionally, solar panels and vertical axis wind turbines on the roof generate enough energy to balance the building’s electricity use.

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