The world is going greener by the day and sustainable buildings are the future. We discover some of the greenest buildings in the world.
The world today has become highly sensitive, and rightly so, to the energy crunch that is becoming a grave concern all over the globe. There has been an intense focus on sustainability and green building in the last few decades.
Essentially sustainable design and construction refers to making the most of the available resources and enabling more energy-efficient green homes and lifestyle.
There is an emphasis on leaving a lighter footprint on the environment by way of conserving resources and using energy-efficient, green products. Sustainable design fundamentally means holding building construction in tandem with sustainable environment.
But sustainable design is much more than just installing solar panels to a building that is essentially inefficient and keeping it at that.
We also need to consider the materials used in the building construction, if its water management is efficient and whether it is energy efficient.
This drive towards sustainable design is making designers and architects scramble to create the most innovative green buildings. But how many of those are also novel in their appeal? Here’s a short list of what we think are the most sustainable buildings from around the world.
Shanghai Tower, China
Shanghai Tower is not only the second-tallest building after the iconic Burj Khalifa in Dubai, it is also the planet’s greenest tall building. Created by the firm Gensler, the super skyscraper has wind turbines installed at its top that provides enough power to cover the building’s exterior lighting as well as park areas.
The building has a transparent second skin or a double-glass façade that works towards reducing the building’s carbon footprint substantially by 34,000 tonnes per year. The skin also helps insulate and enables natural light to flood into the building, thus reducing energy use.
Shanghai Tower’s sleek spiral shape with a tapering top is designed keeping sustainability in mind. The building accomplishes a 120-degree twist. According to the architects at Gensler, this is an optimal rotation for minimising wind loads.
The building has also installed sky gardens in its structure, along with a host of cafés and shops for workers and residents.
Waste House, UK
The Waste House is literally made from discarded waste, almost exclusively so. Installed at the University of Brighton, UK, about 90% of material that went into its construction was obtained from household and construction waste. This includes toothbrushes, DVD cases, denim jeans, floppy discs and carpet tiles, the latter of which was used as weather proof cladding for the façade.
Recycled wood has been used to construct the frame and floors of the Waste House. The house consists of a rammed-earth wall that has been made from compacted chalk waste and clay, which only add to the structure’s energy-efficiency and sustainability due to its 35 cm thickness and thermal properties.
The Brighton Waste House, designed by a team of undergraduate students and apprentices led by BBM Architects Director and senior lecturer Duncan Baker-Brown, is now an open design research studio and permanent design workshop centred on sustainable development.
Tata Consultancy Services Technopark, India
India has undergone a ferocious green revolution over the last few years. One among the increasing number of sustainable buildings is Tata Consultancy Services Technopark in Chennai, designed by Uruguayan architectural firm Carlos Ott Architects in association with Carlos Ponce de León Architects.
The corporate office, green right from the conceptual stage itself, has been designed to optimise energy, water and natural resources, furnish the site with healthy indoor spaces and endeavour to improve the microclimate.
Some of its green features include high performance double glazed glass, rooftop shading fins and sun louvers to decrease solar transmission and increase natural light transmission.
Its efforts towards water conservation are impressive and consist of a rain water storage pond that not only improves the microclimate, but also provides backup water storage for as long as three months. The greenery planted is irrigated through drip irrigation system which further helps reduce water consumption. There is also an onsite Sewage Treatment Plant that generates recycled water, and an RO system that is used for landscape irrigation and the AC plant.
ACROS Fukuoka Foundation Building, Japan
Designed by Emilio Ambasz & Associates, the ACROS Fukuoka Foundation Building in Japan is a sight for sore eyes amidst the concrete jungle of the city. One side of the structure looks like a regular office building, but it is the other side that makes it so distinct, containing a large terraced roof that merges with a park. This building epitomises the wonderful fusion of native greenery and architectural concept that is sometimes referred to as eco-architecture.
The garden terraces host about 35,000 plants representing 76 species. This green roof helps to reduce the building’s energy consumption by keeping the internal temperature stable and comfortable. The interior of the building consists of a huge atrium that floods the entire space with natural light, thus helping in this endeavour.
The side of the structure that has a staircase-shaped garden consists of a systematized design of water drainage that mimics that of a mountain. It allows natural irrigation to take place when the water flows from the peak of the building and waters the vegetation on its journey downwards.
Sustainable design, therefore, need not be all about technicality and efficient functionality. As these few buildings establish, it can push the limits for creativity and innovation while at the same time staying true to the idea of green design and sustainability.
Text by Tasneem S. Pocketwala