Top 8 Green Buildings

Top 8 Green Buildings

22 July, 2015
Eco Architecture
These 8 stunning buildings showcase both forward-thinking design and eco-friendly features

There are a huge number of environmentally conscious structures cropping up in skylines all over the globe. The following selection may vary in usage, appearance and age, but there’s a common characteristic that binds these buildings: they all demonstrate how inventive design techniques can be built into a blueprint to minimise waste and extract energy from renewable sources in the surrounding environment. 
Location Miami, Florida, USA
Opened Not open yet
Function COR is a mixed-use condominium with shops, offices, residential flats and fitness facilities
Eco features The 122-metre building extracts power from its environment via the wind turbines integrated to the exterior design, as well as solar from its photovoltaic surface panels. The exoskeleton also provides thermal mass insulation, natural cooling and enclosures for terraces. There are other environmentally friendly touches found throughout, such as green roofs on top of penthouse units, abundant bicycle parking, and waterless urinals.
Renewable material such as bamboo and recycled glass is integral to the architecture, and local stones and materials have been added to accent them.
Location London, England, UK
Opened 2012
Function An exhibition centre dedicated to sustainable future cities
Eco features The Crystal was the first building ever to achieve both BREEAM Outstanding and LEED Platinum status. It is entirely electric, generating 20% of that energy from solar panels. Ground source heat pumps supply almost all the heating and cooling of the building. Solar glass is used in the windows to allow 70% of natural light in, while simultaneously collecting 70 per cent of the solar energy. Sensors dim or turn off the sparse LED and fluorescent lighting according to natural illumination levels in the room. Rainwater is collected, filtered and recycled. Blackwater, meanwhile, is used for irrigation and toilet flushing.
Location Monterrey, Mexico
Opened 2012
Function Centre for industrial automotive manufacturing
Eco features The dramatic design features an angled, saw-toothed roof and perforated aluminium exterior. This allows for multifunctional energy-saving techniques. The large north-facing skylight windows and the numerous holes in the exterior allow maximum natural light to stream in, while the south-facing roof slopes carry photovoltaic panels to absorb solar energy and generate electricity. The perforated metal, meanwhile, also provides shade and prevents the interior from overheating. Abundant natural light is normally not a common feature of warehouses and design labs ¬due to the need for visual security to protect trade secrets, but Metalsa is an industrial building of bright ideas. The building also has a natural bioswale garden outside, allowing wastewater to flow into the surrounding water reclamation wetland.
Location San Francisco, California, USA
Opened 2008
Function A museum of natural science
Eco features This building is so environmentally friendly that it has been awarded two platinum LEED certifications. Its iconic and interesting design incorporates a green roof that is critical to the building’s heating and cooling, with soil working as insulation and the foliage absorbing rainwater, as well as working as an ecosystem for local bird, insect and butterfly species. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow plenty of natural light, and the building is ventilated through the large circular skylights that open and close automatically to regulate internal temperatures. There’s also radiant floor heating to supplement this. Inside, there’s an array of fantastic exhibits teaching future generations about rainforest, ocean and other ecosystems – so extra environmental credits are due for that!
Location Manama, Bahrain
Opened 2008
Function It contains office space, a Sheraton Hotel and a shopping mall
Eco features The two 44-storey, sail-shaped towers are located on Manama waterfront, and are designed to harness the onshore breeze from the Arabian Gulf and convert it into energy. It was one of the first skyscrapers to incorporate large-scale wind turbines into its design. The three 68-tonne turbines generate 15% of the building’s energy needs. In parallel to this there are also many eco-friendly features that facilitate cooling of the building, such as reflection pools at the entrances to provide local evaporative cooling, and solar glass windows with low shading co-efficient. Energy efficient lighting and water recycling systems are also in place throughout. The building received a Leading European Architects Forum (LEAF) award for its groundbreaking design in 2006, an Edie Award for Environmental Excellence in 2008 as well as seven eco awards in the year it opened and two since.
Location Carlton, Melbourne, Australia
Opened 2010
Function Office space
Eco features This structure is so energy efficient it doubles as a renewable energy power plant! The solar panels on the roof and wind turbines integrated into the design actually capture and produce more power than the building requires to function. This means that eventually, the carbon used in its construction will be offset by the energy it has generated back into the general grid. Hence it is a carbon neutral building ¬– and one of Australia’s greenest to boot. It achieved the highest ever Green Star rating, with a perfect score of 100 from the Green Building Council, as well as being one of the highest-scoring LEED platinum rated buildings. It also features a reed bed system and green roof that captures and uses all rainwater, as well as colourful and characteristic daylight glare control panels.
Location Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, SAR China
Opened 2012
Function A mixed-use office and mall complex
Eco features This was Hong Kong’s first building to be awarded the LEED highest platinum level, as well as several other sustainability awards. It maintains a healthy microclimate and biodiversity with its urban farm, green spaces and artificial wetland on the 16th floor that recycles grey water from the office floors of the building. There’s also a rainwater harvesting system, which collects rainwater on the roof, exterior walls and ground levels and reuses it for irrigation and air-conditioning. On the South and East sides of the feature light shelves that direct natural light as deep into each office floor as possible. The North and West facades, meanwhile, have specially designed low-angle solar shading installed on them. This pioneering mall has really set the standard in one of Asia’s busiest metropolises ¬– proving that consumption and conservation can coexist.

Location Glen Jean, West Virginia, USA
Opened 2013
Function A living classroom
Eco features This educational treehouse is built almost 40 metres above ground, in a forest canopy. The structure itself is made from a combination of recycled-content steel and locally harvested wood. Not only is it a sustainable building with a 6,450-watt solar panel array, two 4,000-watt wind turbines, and a 1,000-gallon cistern and water cleansing system, but it also provides another environmental dynamic: engaging and teaching future generations about the importance of conservation. The multiple indoor and outdoor platforms allow visitors to learn about the forest first-hand, and experience how sustainable technologies work through the many interactive exhibits.

By: Alex Andersson


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