The world had resounded the idea of sustainability since decades ago when climate change became a widespread concern. In the architecture world, sustainability means limiting the environmental impact of buildings by implementing energy efficiency, using sustainable building materials and establishing proper waste management. The main objective is to lower the risk of detrimental effects in the long run. Below are nine examples of sustainable architecture projects across the globe.
Opened in 2013 on Earth Day, this office located in Seattle, Washington, is infamous for being zero-energy building. The entirety of its energy consumption is fully covered by the 575 solar panels that harvest more than it uses in a year. So yes, the claim is definitely bona fide—this Miller Hull-designed six-storey building has even got a Living Building Certificate.
The Edge is an app-controlled green building situated in Amsterdam. Designed by PLP Architecture firm, this office refrains traditional electric lights and embraces LED technology powered by what they called “digital ceiling”. It’s basically a sensor system connected by computer cables, pre-empting lighting needs instead of running at a fixed rate. It is estimated to save 80% energy compared to traditional lighting. Window blinds are flexible to adjust with the app.
Outside, the building exterior is clad with solar panels to generate electricity. Temperatures inside are controlled by pumping cooler and warmer water from different altitudes in an aquifer. No wonder this building got 98.3% in British rating system Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology (BREEAM)—the highest score to date.
CopenHill is an eco-friendly power plant that incinerates waste to generate electricity. Opened just a few years back in 2017, the multipurpose project was commissioned to Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), where genius young architect Bjarke Ingels is the founding partner and creative director. The 16,000 sqm structure is designed to convert 400,000 tons of waste per year into scads of clean energy, enough to power over 100,000 homes within the region, emitting zero toxins in the process to the atmosphere’s advantage.
As outstanding it is as a waste-to-energy plant, CopenHill is also a superb sports facility. Capped by over 500 metres ski slopes design, visitors could use it for hiking trails, snowboarding, playground, trail running, wall climbing, and skiing. The last one is what locals are most thankful for, because even though Denmark receives heaps of snow in the winter, it is a generally geographically flat, preventing it from being ideal terrain for ski and snowboard enthusiasts.
Taipei 101 (then Taipei World Financial Center) is a super-tall skyscraper designed by CY Lee. Standing proudly over 509 metres high, the architecture is deemed as the world’s tallest green building by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards back in summer 2011. Its double-pane windows block external heat by 50%. It uses low-flow water system that effectively lessens its water consumption by 30%, saving roughly 7.4 million gallons of water each year. It is also expected to save over 14 million kWh of electricity, equivalent to approximately $1.2 million each year.
One Angel Square
Award-winning architecture practice 3DReid had flexibility in mind when they designed One Angel Square. The structure of the office building located in Manchester is convenient and open to reorganization so tenants could easily rearrange the space as they see fit. This ultimately saves the energy and cost needed to refit the whole system. The building’s façade is designed to be double-skinned, reducing cooling and heating costs. Underground concrete tubes were installed to bring in cool air via a heat exchanger. Inside, the stylish furniture are made of recycled waste pallets. For the whole system, it got a BREAAM score of 95.16%.
One must say, Apple’s latest HQ is the ultimate architectural achievement for how the campus of a visionary company should be designed. Designed by Foster + Partners firm, the 708,200 sqm complex was Steve Jobs’ vision that he got when he walked through London’s Hyde Park. The campus includes a central, ring-shaped building that runs completely on sustainable energy harvested by the solar panels that capped the spaceship-like megastructure. Canopies are installed between each floor to protect staffs from the intense California sun. Each canopy is further equipped with a ventilation system that dispenses air in and out of the building. All in all, this is a sustainable architecture that actually breathes.
Eden Project Cornwall
A megaproject envisioned to make a better life for all, Eden Project is a public attraction situated in Cornwall, UK. Nestled in a huge crater, this Nicholas Grimshaw-designed complex consists of two massive enclosures that house thousands of plant species in adjoining domes, simulating rainforest and Mediterranean environment respectively.
All water used to create the humid conditions of the rainforest biome and to provide the toilet facilities are sanitized rainwater, while main water from public infrastructure is used for handwashing and cooking. For electricity, Eden Project uses renewable energy from adjacent wind turbines. At the end of 2010, the Eden Project was granted permission to build a geothermal electricity plant. It is estimated to generate 4MWe, sufficient to supply Eden and approximately five thousand households.
Most people recognized Burj Khalifa as the tallest building in the world at the moment. Little did they know that the building at the second place is nothing to be overlooked. Standing at 632 metre high, Shanghai Tower is both an architectural wonder as well as a sustainable one. Opened in 2015, the Gensler-designed office, hotel and retail complex is clad with transparent second skin, creating a buffer of captured air for natural ventilation, automatically reducing energy costs. Its exterior lights are powered by 270 wind turbines that incorporated into the façade. Thanks to these measures, the tower receives a platinum LEED certification for using significantly less power than most skyscrapers would.
Bahrain World Trade Center
Reaching a staggering 239 metres, the futuristic twin towers of Bahrain World Trade Center are strategically positioned to capitalize on the nation’s desert winds. Everything is planned thoroughly to ensure the structure’s sustainability. Three sky bridges linking the two buildings are each mounted with a turbine to generate electricity, supplying about 15% of the total energy needed to operate the whole complex. The towers’ overall shape, which reminisces Arab dhow sailing ships, further helps funnel strong breezes from the nearby Persian Gulf to said turbines. Being the first skyscraper to integrate wind turbines into its design, Bahrain WTC has received multiple awards for sustainability since its grand opening in 2008.