There are many ways to measure the size of a building, whether by measuring its height, comparing architectural styles or dissecting its history. But in an era of climate change, there is a growing emphasis on the ‘green’ credentials of buildings. With environmental impact dominating the design, construction and operation, CNN Style has collected green buildings from around the world and in this article we share eight green buildings from around the world that are worth learning from.
The Pixel Building
When it opened ten years ago, the Pixel Building was Australia’s first carbon-neutral office building, generating all its own electricity and water on site. Its energy efficient features include colourful, striking panels that provide shade and maximise daylight for as long as needed, a roof that supports the treatment of waste water and collects rainwater, and a series of vertical wind turbines. The building meets 105 environmental requirements and the building is self-sufficient in water and energy supply. The building’s colourful exterior skin is a system of fixed shading louvers that are unforgettable and it is backed by double-glazed windows. In addition, the building is equipped with solar panels. The building has achieved 102 requirements under the US LEED standard, the highest LEED score in the world to date.
Sydney Vertical Gardens
The Vertical Garden in Sydney’s Central Park consists of two interconnected towers. The building was designed by Ateliers Jean Nouvel in conjunction with PTW Architects for residential use. This central park is covered with 250 species of Australian plants and flowers, herbaceous, woody and vine species that wrap around the building, creating a green vegetative wall that seems to extend up from the surrounding greenery, giving the residents a sense of nature. At the same time, the vegetation absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen through photosynthesis, reducing energy consumption and blocking out heat more effectively than traditional shade coverings. The hovering cantilevers supporting the most luxurious penthouses of the higher towers are a design marvel. It consumes 25% less energy than a conventional building of the same size.
Brazil’s Museum of Tomorrow
The Brazil Museum of Tomorrow was inspired by the bromeliads of the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Gardens. The unique overhanging roof, reflective pools and skeletal structure are the best expression of the sci-fi, unconventional nature of Rio de Janeiro’s Museum of Tomorrow. The building’s form has a typical Calatrava style. Its sustainable design features include adjustable finned solar panels, which also reflect the building’s neo-futuristic aesthetic, and the regulation also includes a pumping system that draws cold water from the bottom of nearby Guanabara Bay for the air conditioning system.
Vancouver Convention Centre
The Vancouver Convention Centre is the first building of its kind to achieve double LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification. With its unique six-acre green roof, it is the largest non-industrial roof in Canada. So what’s drawing attention to it? Firstly, it is the home of the European Honey Bee Hive, four hives of European bees mounted on the roof to pollinate plants and grasses, which helps to reduce heat build-up in the summer and retain it in the winter. Most importantly, the sloping shape of the roof also helps with drainage and seed distribution. However, not all of the activity takes place on the roof. Some projects are built on piles (posts) over water to help support the marine ecosystem including native crabs, salmon and shellfish.
Shanghai Centre Tower
At 2073 feet, the Shanghai Centre Tower is the second tallest architectural marvel in the world, the tallest building in Asia and a sustainable architectural marvel. The building’s innovative two separate curtain wall design acts as two skins for the building, with a transparent second skin wrapping around the building creating an air buffer that acts as a natural ventilation, reducing energy costs, and 270 wind turbines on the façade powering the exterior lighting. The building also has an energy centre to explore intelligent operation management systems for multiple energy sources to achieve energy savings of 10-20%. In this building, a different energy supply mix is activated in summer or autumn, in the morning or at noon.
Shanghai Centre Tower has also become the first green supertall building in China to receive dual certification, with the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development awarding it a three-star Green Building Design Label and the US Green Building Council awarding it a LEED Gold pre-certification.
CopenHill, also known as Amager Bakke, is a Copenhagen-based thermal and waste-to-energy plant designed by the Bjarke Ingels Group and completed in 2017. It is also a place for local people to visit and it has launched its latest attraction: an artificial ski and snowboard slope. So it’s both a power plant that burns waste to generate electricity and a sporting facility where you can take on one of the world’s tallest rock climbing towers. Under the winter fun, 440,000 tonnes of waste are converted into clean electricity and heating for 150,000 nearby homes each year through furnaces, steam and turbines, according to Architect Magazine. Denmark has cold winters, but no mountains – so adding a ski area to the area doesn’t bring some topographical diversity to the country either. This power plant burns waste that is not fossil fuel, in line with Copenhagen’s goal of becoming the first carbon neutral capital by 2025. Bjarke Ingels, founder of the Bjarke Ingels Group, said in a statement on the opening day:- “CopenHill is the cleanest waste-to-energy power plant in the world.”
Vertical Forest in Milan
Architect Stefano Boeri designed this luxury flat in the sky in Milan, Italy, which is what architect Stefano Boeri sees as a ‘future utopian’ building. The building has plenty of space for large, mature trees, various ground cover plants and shrubs. According to the Skyscrapercenter.com website, the result is “one of the densest green building facades ever achieved”. All this greenery helps to improve the air quality of Bosco Verticale and the city as a whole. The benefits claimed by this garden architecture go beyond aesthetics. The greenery in the flats provides shade for the flats and homes for wildlife. “It is an ecological architecture that rejects rigid mechanical techniques and is in line with environmental sustainability.” Boeri Studio had this to say in a statement.
At 807 feet tall, Torre Reforma (Tower of Reforma) is taller than any other building in the Mexican capital and stands out in terms of energy efficiency measures. Arup, the engineering firm responsible for the project, says the tower’s lightness maximises the entry of natural light, thereby reducing the need for electric lighting; when weather permits, the controller can automatically open windows before dawn to let in cool air as a form of natural ventilation. The tower has been awarded LEED Platinum certification.
The building can withstand major earthquakes, a crucial consideration in cities prone to earthquakes. “Today in Asia, more and more residential towers are going up, and the international trend of bigger and bigger high-rise mixed-use projects has been ruling urban construction for years. The Torre Reforma office building is unique in that it takes its cue from traditional office architecture. But the architects did not simply go back to the old days, in fact the project only resembles those classic high-rise buildings in terms of the layout of the functions used. Mexico City is a city prone to earthquakes, and this 246 metre high office building not only has a unique appearance, but is also innovative in its design of the supporting structure. The Torre Reforma office building designed by architect L. Benjamín Romano is a new landmark in Mexico City, the capital of Mexico, and is noted worldwide.”