World's Greenest Buildings Zero Carbon Buildings

A zero carbon building is an energy efficient building that consumes no coal, oil or electricity, and whose energy consumption is provided by renewable energy generated at the site throughout the year. Zero carbon buildings are remarkably energy efficient and are the best example of the concept of energy efficiency. Today, Little Works is here to introduce you to six zero carbon energy efficient building designs.

California Zero-Carbon Buildings – Yin and Yang Homes

Designed by Brooks+Scarpa Architects, this is a yin-yang residence, a zero-carbon building in a California community designed to create living space for an extended family. The home unfolds around a series of courtyards and outdoor spaces, resulting in an interplay of indoor and outdoor spaces.

The space on the street-facing side is solid, but behind the steel entry is a transition between indoor and outdoor spaces, the courtyard. This feeling of solidity is also softened by a steel line that rises and falls, bringing the building closer to the interaction with the outdoors.

Tianjin Zero Carbon Building – Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city Public Housing Exhibition Centre

The Tianjin Eco-city Public Housing Exhibition Centre incorporates a number of advanced environmental technologies, such as solar photovoltaic panels on the roof to provide sufficient electricity, a ventilation system based on the chimney effect for indoor and outdoor air circulation, the use of light guides to refract and reflect sunlight for indoor lighting, and a ground source heat pump for heating and cooling inside the building, etc. The building is 3,467 square meters in size, and is the first zero-carbon building in Tianjin. The entire building covers an area of 3,467 square meters and is the first zero-carbon building in Tianjin, achieving zero carbon emissions through the application of advanced building technology and various renewable energy sources.

The diamond-shaped building structure fully absorbs the sunlight.

The entire public housing display center is an oversized rhombus-shaped two-story building, not traditionally facing south, but 15° south-east. “The angle was chosen based on the local sunlight hours and intensity in Tianjin, more fully considering the time it takes for the photovoltaic panels to absorb the sun’s rays.” The original, public housing exhibition center roof of a large area laid solar photovoltaic panels, even if the building is in the middle of the forward protruding eaves of the building have become photovoltaic panels “pedestal”.

It is understood that the entire building solar photovoltaic panels area of 2600 square meters, the annual power generation of 240,000kWh, and public housing exhibition center a year of electricity consumption of about 210,000kWh, the intensity of sunlight throughout the day, for which there are a large number of underground batteries, photovoltaic panels produce electricity reserves when there is a surplus of electricity, insufficient power generation.

World's Greenest Buildings Zero Carbon Buildings

Geothermal Energy and Ventilation for Physical Comfort

The central lobby of the public housing display centre leads to the roof of the building, and instead of reinforced steel and concrete walls, there are glass windows on the two-storey façade above the two-storey building on either side. “This is a high side window, on the one hand to ensure the natural lighting of the hall, on the other hand, is also part of the building ventilation system.” Hu Yudan describes. In the public housing display centre, there is a ventilation system based on the chimney effect. Through an underground pipe network, the display centre is connected to an outdoor air intake shaft. Fresh air enters the display center from the outdoor air intake well and the network of pipes, and then the air flow inside the building is achieved through the side height windows and the interior windows of the office. The air conditioner can be turned on less when the outdoor temperature is appropriate, saving electricity.

The windows themselves are Low-E (low-e) glass, with an additional layer of film on top of the glass to ensure light transmission and provide better insulation. The tilted design makes the sunlight shine directly on the window sill, while the upper layer of the sill is made of glossy material, which refracts the sunlight, but only reflects the light but is not anti-heat, controlling the indoor temperature dissipation to the maximum extent. In this way, when the air conditioner is turned on in summer, no more heat is inhaled, and when the heating is turned on in winter, no heat is emitted, thus saving energy consumption.


In winter, it takes a lot of energy consumption to maintain the indoor temperature, but in the public housing showroom, a ground source heat pump heating and cooling system was designed to use geothermal energy to heat the building. Meanwhile, in the public housing showroom, a capillary network heating system has been designed and installed on the roof, which is an ultra-thin, low-load capillary network that effectively enhances heat transfer and reduces the impact of space renovation on the building.

The brightness of the lights is automatically adjusted by the luminosity of the room

The entire system regulates the luminosity of the fixtures through the room luminosity. Whether the lights are switched on in the office is determined solely by the natural light level and the system’s set room luminosity. In addition, the light guides in the lighting system use natural light directly. The headlamps on the roof, which emit strong light, are not electroluminescent, but are formed by refracting and reflecting sunlight. In this way, the luminosity is maintained even in halls with large spaces and poor lighting.

Finally, there is a control system that centrally manages the entire building. This system centrally monitors and manages the energy consumption of all equipment inside the building, thus further reducing energy consumption and conserving resources.

Zero Carbon Building UK – Beddington “Zero Carbon Community”

In the small town of Beddington, south of London, England, there is a unique looking community that stands out from the crowd, with rows of colorful chimney-like installations on the buildings, large solar photovoltaic panels on the south side of the roof, and a variety of colorful plants on the north side.

The community, known as “Beddington Zero Fossil Energy Development”, designed by world-renowned low carbon architect Bill Dunster, was completed in 2002 and has attracted around 100 residents, making it the largest low carbon sustainable community in the UK, and has become a benchmark pioneer in the world of low carbon construction. “The Zero Carbon Community is not completely free of carbon emissions, but rather free of traditional fossil fuels such as coal and oil through the use of solar energy and energy efficient buildings.

The community uses energy from two sources: solar photovoltaic panels installed on the roof and south side of the building, and a small cogeneration plant that generates electricity and hot water from materials such as wood scrap in the community. It is a natural ventilation device with special openings that rotate with the wind to bring fresh outside air into the house through pipes. In order to reduce the loss of heat during the ventilation process, special treatment is done to the inlet and outlet ducts so that the heat exchange between the cold outdoor air and the hot indoor air can take place in the ducts, thus saving the energy required for heating.

The small cogeneration plant in the community uses fuel from materials such as scrap wood and does not create an additional environmental burden. The heat emitted in the process of generating electricity is also used to produce hot water, which is piped to every home in the community. Each home is equipped with a hot water cylinder about 1m high, which, in addition to accessing hot water for domestic needs, automatically releases heat when the room temperature is low to assist in heating. With these measures in place, as long as there is no special demand, residents no longer need to install heating in their homes and the entire community does not have a central heating system, which reduces a large chunk of energy consumption.

World's Greenest Buildings Zero Carbon Buildings

Zero Carbon Building in Hong Kong – Zero Carbon World

This HK$240 million urban oasis, which includes a two-storey building with green technology and is surrounded by the first native forest landscape in Hong Kong, has successfully eliminated the building’s carbon footprint through green design and clean energy technology, while releasing excess electricity back into the city’s power grid.

Reducing energy dependency by adapting to local conditions

Dr. Kui-Yi Lee, Director of the Hong Kong Construction Industry Council’s Zero Carbon Building, tells us that one secret is passive building design – using as many natural resources as possible to reduce a building’s energy dependency at source.

For example, the building’s roof is high in the north and low in the south, with a horizontal elevation angle of 21°, allowing the solar panels on the roof to receive the maximum amount of light while increasing indoor lighting. The eaves extend low to create deep awnings that block direct sunlight and reduce energy consumption for air conditioning. The walls of the building are also clad in large low-e glass windows for natural light, which not only transmits light well, but also reduces heat transfer by up to 80% below the maximum allowable gross thermal value under Hong Kong regulations.

The building is roughly south-facing, facing into the wind, using natural breezes from the sea to ventilate the interior. The air supply vents, located on the interior floor, also serve as the building’s breathing apparatus. The air supply vents are connected to the outdoor air catchers. The natural air enters through the trap, passes underground, and then enters the room at a temperature 5°C lower than the original temperature.

Active system monitoring for energy efficiency

“Zero Carbon World emphasizes building design that is responsive to nature, and where passive building design cannot meet daily needs, active technology intervention is needed to assist and adjust the indoor environment.

“CarbonZero has an intelligent building management system. This “housekeeper” relies on 2,800 detectors located inside and outside the main building to monitor the indoor and outdoor temperature, humidity, light and carbon dioxide conditions. When the indoor temperature exceeds 28 ℃, the intelligent management system will order the floor air supply outlet output cold air. Li Guiyi introduction, will air supply outlet installed in the floor, cold air can be blown directly to the visitors, without blowing the whole space cold, so the cooling temperature does not have to be as low as the general air conditioning 12 to 14 degrees Celsius, only 16 to 18 ℃ can achieve the same effect.

Turning waste into use, sustainable construction and giving back to the city

In order to completely eliminate its carbon footprint, Zero Carbon World is generating its own power using solar energy and biodiesel. Located in the basement of the main building, the biodiesel power generation system contains 100% biodiesel extracted from waste cooking oil. The biodiesel generates electricity through special equipment, and the waste heat from the electricity generation is used for cooling, and the waste heat from the cooling is then used for dehumidification, thus forming a triple supply of electricity generation, cooling and heating, thus making full use of energy, with an energy utilization rate of 70%, while conventional power plants only have an energy utilization rate of about 40%.

Taiwan’s Zero Carbon Building – Green Magic School

On January 12, 2011, the Green Magic School, with a total floor area of 4,800 square meters, was officially inaugurated at the Lihang Campus of National Cheng Kung University. According to the sophisticated analysis of Cheng Kung University Architectural Research Institute, it is estimated that the building has an annual EUI of 43kWh/(m2.yr), saving 65% energy (compared to 125kWh/(m2.yr) for an office building of the same size), making it the first super green building in the world to save energy.

The Green Magic School employs 13 green building design techniques, including 5 soft energy saving techniques for the building itself and natural ventilation, 2 methods for equipment reduction, 5 energy saving techniques for equipment, and renewable energy techniques. The most exciting is the use of natural buoyancy ventilation, which allows a 300-seat international conference hall to be air-conditioned for four months in winter, saving 28% of energy; the use of air-conditioning and ceiling fans in the office area saves 76% of energy; and the use of secondary reflective lighting design with ceramic multi-metal lamps saves 40% of energy in the international conference hall.

To reveal its carbon footprint, the research team calculated the Green Magic School’s CO2 emissions and found that it emits 51.7% less carbon than a typical office building. Its total annual electricity consumption is 113,200kWh, which is equivalent to 71.3t of CO2 emissions per year. In order to further build it into a zero-carbon building, NCKU set aside 47,000 square meters of green space on campus to create a large subtropical rainforest, which can absorb all the 71.3t of carbon dioxide emissions, making the Green Magic School a true zero-carbon green building. This is not only the first building in Taiwan, but also the first in the world to achieve zero carbon building through the “carbon neutral measures” of afforestation.

World's Greenest Buildings Zero Carbon Buildings

Zero Carbon Building in Singapore – Building Construction Authority of Singapore (BCA) Office Tower


The BCA office building is the first zero carbon building in Singapore and was converted from an old building. This new building is now a model building in Singapore, incorporating green design and technologies such as lighting, ventilation, clean and renewable energy, greenery, etc. The zero carbon building has been designed to be the first of its kind in Singapore.


To effectively block and harness the sun’s rays, the zero-carbon building’s façade is fitted with sunshades and light guides at the appropriate light angles to prevent strong sunlight from entering the building through the glass, cooling it down and reflecting natural light deeper into the offices to increase brightness and reduce power usage.


The building has several patios with light pipes that reflect sunlight from each of them, and the brightness of this natural lighting can be adjusted manually. Unlike electric lighting, the natural lighting is soft. Although it lacks the illumination of a typical office, the light is so good that sitting at a desk does not interfere with work at all.


In addition, the entire building has become self-sustaining in terms of electricity. Solar panels on the roof of the building convert solar energy into electricity, which can also be fed into the public power grid during peak times, and the building can purchase electricity from the public grid during peak times. On a year-round basis, there is a slight balance in electricity generation.


The main features of zero carbon buildings, in addition to enhancing the passive energy-efficient design of the building envelope, are the ability to shift the building’s energy needs to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, shallow geothermal and biomass, finding the best solutions for the harmonious coexistence of humans, buildings and the environment.