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

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

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

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

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

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

San Francisco Civic Tower

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 Tower

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

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

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, Melbourne

Transbay Tower

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

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, Miami

Cor

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

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, Dubai

DuBiotech

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

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.


42 Responses to “15 of The Greenest Buildings in The World”

  1. Overseas property investment on January 2, 2008 11:37 am

    A great list – and very hopeful for the future. Green is good :)

  2. Sergio on January 8, 2008 1:03 pm

    with all the new technology we need to see new modern buildings

  3. Mike Mazepa on January 8, 2008 1:21 pm

    Check out the new Manitoba Hydro building being built in Winnipeg, Canada. Its supposed to be one of the most environmentally friendly buildings in the world. Check it out http://canada.archiseek.com/news/2005/000213.html

  4. anon on January 8, 2008 1:23 pm

    You forgot the Manitoba Hydro office tower project.
    http://www.hydro.mb.ca/projects/downtown/vision.shtml
    Gold LEEDS certified, it will be the most energy efficient building in a northern climate.

  5. Concerned Activist on January 8, 2008 1:23 pm

    I feel “Residence Antilia” shouldn’t be on this list.

    Aside from the architecture and innovation involved in having a green building, the movement also emphasizes a downsizing of our excesses to a sustainable lifestyle that suits our needs.

    No human, not even an Indian propery mogul, needs a 70 story, 803 foot tall home. His motivation for building it seems less environmental, and more promotional.

  6. John Bechen on January 8, 2008 1:38 pm

    You should have included the Region 8 EPA headquarters building in Denver, CO

  7. puzzled on January 8, 2008 2:03 pm

    I can’t /imagine/ how you can consider the Residence Antilia a green building with the amount of resources needed to build a 70-story single family house….

    ?

  8. 15 of The Greenest Buildings in The World on January 8, 2008 2:03 pm

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  9. no thanks on January 8, 2008 2:06 pm

    BMW Welt is an amazing piece of work, something you have to see in person to appreciate!

  10. SoupNumber5 on January 8, 2008 2:23 pm

    Are those buildings made of weed and smokable?

  11. Yousaf on January 8, 2008 2:34 pm

    Residence Antilia: a 70 storey building to house a single family – sounds more like a grievous waste of space than a green initiative.

  12. 15 of The Greenest Buildings in The World on January 8, 2008 2:51 pm

    [...] 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. See All [...]

  13. 15 of The Greenest Buildings in The World | AnyNumberOfThings on January 8, 2008 2:58 pm

    [...] This list has been severely abridged. To read the full list, view the original post at it’s source: 15 of The Greenest Buildings in The World (GeekAbout) [...]

  14. jason keesee on January 8, 2008 3:16 pm

    they do use photovoltaics in the windows of the building. It’s two blocks from my home, and we see it in use every night because the energy they capture is used for the exterior lighting of the building

  15. jason keesee on January 8, 2008 3:21 pm

    You also failed to mention the Heifer Project International building on the same site, it was just selected as one of the greenest designs in the U.S.

  16. 15 of the Greenest Buildings in the World « Scott Middleton on January 8, 2008 3:22 pm

    [...] 15 of the Greenest Buildings in the World Take a look at 15 of the Greenest Buildings in the World. [...]

  17. none on January 8, 2008 3:52 pm

    you seemed to have chosen projects that are self-consciously/showily “green”, even when they actually aren’t truly green at all (a skyscraper for a family – that is the DEFINITION of material excess). there are many more projects out there that don’t broadcast their greenness but are in fact much more conservation-oriented than any of these. for example, adobe (the software co.) just retrofitted their office buildings in san jose, ca to be LEED platinum – the highest level. from the outside they still look like your standard-issue glass boxes but they are LEED platinum because of really important things like cutting down on energy use and waste in the first place (then you don’t need to cover your building in solar panels, or attach wind turbines at the top – though these are good things). there are many more examples like this, and a follow-up post on this topic would be great and allow you to get into the topic more fully.

  18. Logan on January 8, 2008 5:35 pm

    The Clinton library makes me laugh, he was at Sierra Nevada College in august 10th Anniversary Lake Tahoe Forum commenting on OUR new platinum-LEED environmental science building at the college and how his library is still silver rated but he will be catching up to us soon… 3 months later he went platinum.

  19. The Last Minute Blog » links for 2008-01-09 on January 8, 2008 9:20 pm

    [...] 15 of The Greenest Buildings in The World Not sure how this list was compiled… (tags: architecture article development environment green india sustainability list) [...]

  20. bobmarlee on January 8, 2008 9:49 pm

    Many of these don’t exist yet and therefore aren’t really buildings, let alone proven green.

  21. justine on January 9, 2008 12:11 am

    These are amazing,the future of houses will be great.

  22. Science Etcetera Mercuryday, 20080109 « ideonexus on January 9, 2008 2:09 am

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  23. Random Links for January 9th, 2008 | Rick Tech on January 9, 2008 9:47 am

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  24. Architect zoekt natuurliefhebber « ZeitGeisty on January 9, 2008 1:24 pm

    [...] De website GeekAbout.com stelde een lijst samen van 15 ontwerpen voor gebouwen in het stedelijke domein die slim omgaan met hun omgeving. Zo gaat het nieuwe filiaal van de Bank of America in New York, ontworpen door Cook+ Fox Architecten, voor de titel van ‘meest milieuvriendelijke wolkenkrabber ter wereld’. Geen druppel vocht valt op of in het gebouw (de toiletten) zonder te worden hergebruikt. Verterende voedselresten zal zullen gas leveren. [...]

  25. Champions of the Environment » 15 of the Greenest Buildings in the WORLD on January 10, 2008 7:38 pm

    [...] Link [...]

  26.   15 of The Greenest Buildings in The World by jammit on January 13, 2008 8:05 am

    [...] My three favourites out of these are the Masdar Inititiative, Crystal Island and BMW Welt. addthis_url = location.href; addthis_title = document.title; addthis_pub = ‘jammit’; [...]

  27. Matchu on January 15, 2008 9:53 am

    Some really fantastic buildings in there, however, its bitterly disappointing that there is not a single entry from the UK in there.

  28. Water from the Fissures - Water Conservation and Skyscrapers « Water For The Ages on January 19, 2008 11:30 pm

    [...] One Bryant Park is not the only superstructure implementing “green-building” techniques. This informative web-blog post, 15 Greenest Buildings in the World, on Geek About highlights fourteen others. There are many quick contenders around the world including the India Tower and the Residence Antilla in Mumbai. [...]

  29. Doug L on January 22, 2008 9:02 pm

    Great list. I think that the vertical residence in Mumbai is the most intriquing in concept. Verticality offers the most opportunity for creating the unfilled craving for natural space in the urban setting (though Foster’s Crystal Island offers much also in creating the environment that humans crave). I can imagine the vertical residence concept being modified for vertical farms making that potentially the most “green” in a real sense.

  30. 15 prédios verdes ao redor do mundo « EcoTecnologia on January 26, 2008 1:23 pm

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  31. abdul bilal diamondwala on January 28, 2008 12:22 am

    This is in respect to the much vaunted and discussed so called India Tower. I would like to avail of this opportunity to brief readers, pertaining to a brief background of the area, where the proposed tower is supposed to be built. Contruction has not as yet commenced as there are residential pockets existing who have not signed any agreement with Neelkamal or Balwas-Dynamix( developers); for handing of the their premises. There are still legal petitions pending in court , in respect to the area, which hitherto has been known as Diamond Jubilee Compound. The Developers had mislead and duped the people of the above mentioned compound in acquiring the premises. They had promised to build an Educational institution , whereas in reality their intentions were in stark contrast to their professed statements . Balwas and Patel of Neelkamal have used professional ruffians(goondas) to get the land evicted of bonafide tenants, who had been residing in the area, for nearly 5 generations. They used criminal intimidation and strong arm tactics to get the land evicted of tentants. Both developers(Balwas and Neelkamal) time and again flaunted their political connections, in order to intimidate and subdue any opposition to their nefarious agenda. They time and again cited their affinity to Sharad Pawar and Goenka to force people to comply . I was a resident of the said compound, but was compelled to vacate, much against my wishes as Balwas and Patel used criminal intimdation against my family members, incuding ladies , to make me comply. Till date i havent signed any agreement with the Developers , pertaining to handing over of my premises and i am pursuing the matter through legal petitions in the courts. Readers please bear in mind that these Developers are no businessmen, but crooks and cronies of certain politicians of the worst order. Though ostensibly the Develepors are using the title of ‘Suresh Estate Pvt. LTD’ in reality it is Neelkamal and Balwas which is running the show. The above mentioned property also falls under the Charity Commissioner of Mumbai as it is ‘waqf land meaning land which has been gifted to local muslims by the Muslim Trust of Nakhuda Rogay Trust.

  32. Dito Web Design on February 2, 2008 9:26 pm

    3rd one, the ‘single family tower’ was my favorite of the bunch.

  33. zeniamai on February 17, 2008 10:36 pm

    wow. very nice building designs you got here… Nice list.. I hope to see these buildings in the near future… With architecture and IT combined the result is an entire different level of architectural designs.

  34. abdul hameed on April 26, 2008 7:41 am

    This is in respect to the much vaunted and discussed so called India Tower. I would like to avail of this opportunity to brief readers, pertaining to a brief background of the area, where the proposed tower is supposed to be built. Though contruction may have commenced , there are still some residential pockets existing who have not signed any agreement with Neelkamal or Balwas-Dynamix( developers); for handing of the their premises. There are still legal petitions pending in court , in respect to the area, which hitherto has been known as Diamond Jubilee Compound. The Developers namely Salim Balwa, Adil Patel and Nabil Patel have mislead and duped the people of the above mentioned compound in acquiring the premises. They had promised to build an Educational institution , whereas in reality their intentions were in stark contrast to their professed statements . Balwas and Patel of Neelkamal have used professional ruffians(goondas) to get the land evicted of bonafide tenants, who had been residing in the area, for nearly 5 generations. They used criminal intimidation and strong arm tactics to get the land evicted of tentants. Both developers(Balwas and Neelkamal) time and again flaunted their political connections, in order to intimidate and subdue any opposition to their nefarious agenda. They time and again cited their affinity to Sharad Pawar and Vinod Goenka to force people to comply . I was a resident of the said compound, but was compelled to vacate, much against my wishes as Salim Balwas and Nabil Patel used criminal intimdation against my family members, incuding ladies , to make me comply. Till date i havent signed any agreement with the Developers , pertaining to handing over of my premises and i am pursuing the matter through legal petitions in the courts. Readers please bear in mind that these Developers are no businessmen, but crooks and cronies of certain politicians of the worst order. Though ostensibly the Develepors are using the title of ‘Suresh Estate Pvt. LTD’ in reality it is Neelkamal and Balwas which is running the show. The above mentioned property also falls under the Charity Commissioner of Mumbai as it is ‘waqf land meaning land which has been gifted to local muslims by the Muslim Trust of Nakhuda Rogay Trust. Also, it should be noted that these developers have exaggerated the caret areas of residential pockets in the above mentioned compound, in order to additional F.S.I., which is in direct contravention of established muncipal laws. in the deed of conveyance as signed between Suresh Estates and Neelkamal , Dymamix Balwas groups, the later have grossly inflated and maipulated the available carpet area. for eg: with respect to Baakzaa House which occupied 4500 sq. feet carpet, in the deed of conveyance the above mentioned builders nee croosk, have mentioned an area of 9500 sq feet. Apart from this gross cheating and blatant manipulation, they had the temerity to submit totally bogus rent receipts and electricy bills of Baakza House, which will be presented for legal scrutiny as and when the time comes. We have sent e-mails in this connection to all reputed builders and government agencies in Maharashtra, so that they may be aware of the true colors of such developers of ill-repute, who are nothing but the scum of this earth.

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  37. anna on June 16, 2008 4:40 pm

    Those are not the greenest building out there.
    Those are 15 huge, expensive projects that are MARKETED ecological and green.
    There is no way a 70 floor mansion for one family is green enough to be listed, and all the millions of houses in the third world, without even being able to afford electricity in, would not be. Green is not always the most marketed, the biggest, and the most expensive – it is rather the smaller, and the ones that don’t waste resources. Even if that 70- storey high one family house was made of the traditional Indian building material (the cow.. product) it would still be exagerated.

  38. Elizabeth on September 23, 2008 1:41 pm

    What about the Applied Research and Design Building at Northern Arizona University. It’s rarely mentioned in these lists, but it recently was certified LEEDS Platinum and is one of the three greenest buildings in the world.

    http://www4.nau.edu/insidenau/bumps/2008/1_24_08/ard.htm

  39. M.K. schmidt on January 31, 2009 12:15 pm

    You have forgotten the building the US Green Building Council called “the greenest building in the world,” the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center in Wisconsin. The building houses offices and educational space for the foundation that carries the name of one of the nation’s greatest environmentalists, Aldo Leopold. More at http://www.aldoleopold.org. The new center was build by The Boldt Company, one of the leading green construction companies in the nation. It recieved a LEED Platinum designation and racked up more LEED point than any other building to date.

  40. The 10 Dumbest Green Buildings on Earth : Green Building Elements on February 16, 2009 10:28 am

    [...] this probably will not be LEED certified, it has been often mentioned as being one of the greenest building concepts on the planet. While it does look beautiful and will act as a giant carbon sink in the middle of the city, [...]

  41. BeMoreEco » The 10 Dumbest Green Buildings on Earth on February 28, 2009 7:31 am

    [...] this probably will not be LEED certified, it has been often mentioned as being one of the greenest building concepts on the planet. While it does look beautiful and will act as a giant carbon sink in the middle of the city, [...]

  42. McQuay PTAC Guy on March 3, 2009 1:10 pm

    Nice list. An added benefit of green, in most cases, is innovative design. These buildings overall are very attractive.

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Hi! I am a self-confessed geek with an insatiable appetite for gadgets and travel. Currently I own a MacBook Pro, 30GB iPod video and a big credit card balance.
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