If the world wants to do something about global warming then we need to change more than just how we live, we need to change what we live in. There is endemic negligence and a multiplicity of inadequacies with regards sustainable living in our current mainstream architectural design practices. This lack of an environmentally-conscious approach to construction is evident in the huge contribution to the warming of our planet made by buildings.
It therefore stands to reason that if we really are serious about protecting the environment (and ultimately ourselves) then we must build green in the future, and ideally retrofit current structures with greener functionality. Here is a mixture of 15 current, in-construction and planned green architectural treasures from around the world. They all have one thing in common: sustainability.
Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park, New York
Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park: When it comes to green architecture they don’t get much greener than the Bank of America Tower in New York. This $1 billion, 54 storey, 1,200 foot tall tower will house 2.1 million square foot of office space. Cook + Fox designed the tower to be extremely efficient so that waste and rainwater is reused, heat from the sun is maximised and office space is flushed with natural daylight. Most of the raw materials used in the construction of the tower are from renewable and recycled sources within 500 miles of New York in line with the ideology of sustainable building practice. It should come as no surprise therefore that this tower has been accredited with US LEED Platinum status, the only skyscraper with the reward at the time of writing.
India Tower, Mumbai
India Tower: When first announced many commentators reacted with aghast to the renders of India Tower claiming it looked more like a stack of misaligned boxes than an intelligently designed building. I know there are similar towers around the world but I still quite like the India Tower, if only because it symbolises an environmental awareness in the world’s second most populous country. India Tower will be 74 storeys tall with 882,000 square foot of multi-use space when completed in 2010. Each rotated block in the tower will have a completely different use, ie. residential, office, retail, recreation etc. The design incorporates the use of solar shading, natural ventilation, daylighting, rainwater harvesting, and green interior finishes and materials to make this one of the greenest buildings in India. The India Tower has already achieved the US LEED Gold rating.
Residence Antilia, Mumbai
Residence Antilia: Believe it or not but this 70 storey, 803 foot tall tower is going to be the home for a single family, that of Indian property mogul Mukesh Ambani. The tower has been designed by Perkins + Will using traditional Vastu design, which means this will be the tallest living wall when completed and act as a large carbon sink in the heart of Mumbai, India. Not all of the floors will be occupied, some are going to be used exclusively as gardens in the sky. According to Vastu philosophy the central column of the building will angle upwards to symbolise enlightenment. The design is certainly innovative and should add at least some weight behind the whole idea of rooftop gardens and inner city farms that seems to be gaining some well-deserved traction.
Burj al-Taqa, UAE
Burj al-Taqa: Well it had to happen: it just wouldn’t be a post about green architectural and innovative construction without a mention of one of the emirates. The Burj al-Taqa is a totally self-sufficient office tower to be constructed in Dubai, Bahrain and Riyadh that will use wind, solar and water to produce all necessary energy with zero emissions. Designed by Gerber Architekten the 68 story “Energy Tower’ (as the name translates) will have an air conditioning system based on Iranian wind towers to draw air inside that gets pre-cooled with seawater before distribution round the tower. There will also be a 200 foot tall wind turbine with a Darrieus-type rotor on the roof of the 1,056 foot tall tower. The wind turbine will be accompanied by 2 rooftop solar arrays with another floating array offshore to augment power generation. If this building does prove to be totally carbon neutral when completed it will help usher in a new generation of super-green buildings.
San Francisco Civic Tower, SF
San Francisco Civic Tower: After a long time on the drawing board, the City of San Francisco finally gave the green light (no pun intended) to the 12 storey Civic Tower. The building incorporates a plethora of green design features including integrated solar panels on the building exterior and rooftop, a raised floor ventilation system, chilled ceilings, light shelves to increase the penetration of natural daylight into the workspace. In order to improve the quality of life for the workers KMD Architects also designed greenhouses on each floor. These features combined will help the Civic Tower consume 20% less power than required by Californian environmental law, which is why it has been accredited with a US LEED Silver rating. Admittedly not the coolest building, but a sign of things to come.
Masdar, Abu Dhabi
Masdar: Even the largest of green projects pale in comparison with the sheer scale and ambition of the Masdar Initiative. This 64,583,462 square foot development takes environmental design to a whole new level. Foster + Partners were commissioned for this mixed use, high density new walled city which promises zero emissions and no waste. Inhabitants in Masdar will never be any further than 200 meters from some form of public transport or personalised rapid transit, which will be useful considering the city will be car free. Carefully positioned wind turbines, solar arrays and plantations mean Masdar will be completely self sustaining. Awesome.
Khanty Mansiysk Tower, Siberia
Khanty Mansiysk: This 917 foot tall tower in Khanty Mansiysk is designed by Foster + Partners to be a multi use living and workspace capable of withstanding the hot and cold extremes of the Siberian climate. In the renderings provided it looks like a diamond on the hill thanks to the faceted glass Foster has used to maximise penetration of natural daylight, increase solar gain, provide insulation in winter and decrease the power needed for artificial lighting. OK, we’re Foaster fanboys … but who isn’t?
Crystal Island, Moscow
Crystal Island: OK, we know, it is another Foster project. But this one is more equal than others for Crystal Island will be the largest building in the world when completed. Crystal Island’s vital statistics are, well, huge. The volcano-shaped superstructure will be 1,500 foot tall with 26,909,776 foot squared of floor space, that’s enough room to house 30,000 people. As you would expect from a Foster + Partners project, the self-contained city within a city has energy conservation and eco-friendly energy management at the very heart of the design. Crystal Island will generate low carbon energy from solar arrays and wind turbines located on the building with vast atriums to regulate the internal air temperature during the extremes of the Russian summer and winter.
Transbay Tower, SF
Transbay Tower: The 1,200 foot tall obelisk-shaped Transbay Tower is set to joint the Transamerica Building and the Golden Gate Bridge as one of the most iconic structures in San Francisco. A new Transbay bus terminal will be constructed from glass with a rooftop park to absorb the C02 from buses. Transbay Tower will have wind turbines located on the roof, intelligent ventilation of 100% fresh air, lightshelves to control lighting and reduce energy demand, solid exterior panels near the floor to remove undesirable solar gain as well as sunshades to allow for solar control. This is a thoughtfully designed green building, we especially like the use of rooftop turbines.
CH2: Located in the center of Melbourne, the 10 storey Council House 2 aka CH2 is a United Nations award-winning building with sustainable design and energy efficiency at heart. It took AUD$50 million to construct CH2 but it has paid dividends in terms of the recognition it has bestowed on Melbourne. CH2 was the first purpose built office building in Australia to achieve the six Green Star certified rating. It ticks just about every box you can imagine: thermal mass cooling, photovoltaic cells, wind turbines, sewage recycling, chilled ceilings and an amazing tapestry of photovoltaic-powered recycled wooden louvers that track the sun and promote a healthier internal environment. The City of Melbourne expect these green features to pay for themselves inside 10 years, but the real benefit for the city has been the prestige heaped on them from around the world. There’s a message in there.
30 The Bond, Sydney
30 The Bond: When Lend Lease decided to move their headquarters to Sydney they consulted their staff with regards their priorities for the building. As a consequence Lend Lease came up with a design brief that put an emphasis on an improved internal environment, better water management, waste management, fewer emissions and pollutants. 30 The Bond has achieved a 5 star ABGR rating (the equivalent of Gold LEED) by using chilled beans for cooling, individually operated external shades to manage heat and solar gain, wintergarden rooms and rooftop gardens with drought resistant plants that increase biodiversity. Lend Lease say that 30 The Bond emits 30% less CO2 that a typical office building.
Cor: If ever there was an example of strikingly beautiful sustainable architectural design, this is it! Cor is a mixed use 25 storey tower in Miami’s design district costing $25 million to build and due for completion in 2009. Much of the expenditure will go towards the integration of photovoltaic panels, wind turbines and solar hot water generation with the innovative structural design. Cor’s exoskeleton will provide structural integrity, thermal mass for insulation, enclosure for terraces, armatures for turbines, shading for natural cooling and loggias for congregating on the ground. This unique exoskelton will enclose 20,100 square foot of office space, 5,400 square foot of retail units and 113 residential units.
BMW Welt, Munich
BMW Welt: The BMW Welt in Munich is one of the finest examples to date of German engineering at it’s best. The standout feature of the 785,000 square foot BMW Welt is without doubt the 157 foot wide Double Cone, which provides support for the roof (in a rather stunning manner). On the roof of the building there is a large photovoltaic array, also made in Germany by Solarwatt, to produce a minimum of 824kWp. The designers also installed a network of steel panels on the roof that helps to heat the building via solar gain. Solar gain is also encouraged through the materials on the external facade of the structure. It is somewhat ironic that a car manufacturer should spend so much on a building project like this, but if this is in any way demonstrative of where BMW are going with their vehicles then there is hope.
DuBiotech: Set amidst the skyscraper-sprawl that is modern Dubai, the new 22 storey headquarters of DuBiotech will be one of the largest green buildings on earth at 60,000 square foot when completed in 2009. The 2 connected buildings will house research laboratories and are designed as a representation of DNA migration in an agarose gel as seen during electrophoresis. DuBiotech will be oriented to maximise daylight, minimise solar gain and regulate the internal temperature in what is one of the hottest climates on earth. There will also be a 500,000 square foot nature reserve for the conservation of indigenous species.
Clinton Presidential Library, Little Rock
Clinton Presidential Library: The Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas was rated LEED Platinum in November, 2007 after it was reincarnated with bang-up-to-date green features. So what is it about this library that makes it so green? For starters they added a rooftop garden to absorb carbon, reduce rainwater runoff and regulate temperatures. Polsek, the architects who are responsible for the updates, also added increased recycling capabilities, green cleaning (green cleaning chemicals and increased recycled content for paper products), a reduction in the waste through local sourcing and carbon offsetting of all non-renewable energy used. It might have reached the highest level in terms of LEED ratings but we believe they could and should go further by implementing renewable energy production on-site with photovoltaics or wind turbines.