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Top Ten Ecologically Sound Greenscrapers

News Posted On: 20 March 2013

Over the last few decades, green issues have moved from being the concern of people in Birkenstocks and woolly hats to centre stage. What was once laughable eccentricity is now taught in schools: recycling, once a hippyish fad, is now compulsory, and as the amount of newsprint about global warming and peak oil threatens to make its own contribution to the greenhouse effect hardnosed corporate types are giving their design companies new briefs. Words like ‘carbon-neutral’ and ‘energy-efficient,’ ‘zero-energy’ and ‘sustainable,’ once found on the sales tags to yurts, are now the language on international architecture’s brightest and best. Below, we’ll see how they have risen to the challenge of designing and constructing buildings that combine quality and style with energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.

10: The Urban Cactus

The Urban Cactus

The Urban Cactus is a housing project in the Vuurplaat section of Rotterdam by UCX Architects/ Ben Huygen and Jasper Jaegers. The building offers 98 residential units on 19 floors, using the patterns of outdoor spaces to determine the overall appearance. Close up, the building resembles an overgrown water feature; further back, it’s easy to see how it got its name.

A softened geometric shape is repeated up and down the building, but always at an angle so that each protruding ‘corner’ has a double headspace. Consequently, each unit receives far more sunlight than a typically arranged stack of homes.


9: 340 on the Park, Chicago

340 on the Park, Chicago

The second-largest all-residential building in Chicago, the 340 in the Park development was designed by Solomon Cordwell Buenz and built by Magellan Development. It’s conspicuous for its use of sustainable materials throughout – except for the penthouses, all the units are floored with bamboo rather than wood, for instance, and an 11,000 gallon rooftop rainwater tank for watering the landscaping, as well as plants on the roof to reduce rainwater runoff. Special glass was also used to reduce heat loss from the building. As a result of these measures, 340 on the Park was the first residential high-rise in Chicago to meet the silver LEED standards set by the US Green Building Council.



8: Waugh Thistleton Residential Tower, London

Waugh Thistleton Residential Tower

This unique project sadly still languishes on the drawing board, but when built it will be the world’s tallest timber tower. Waugh Thistleton has agreed to build the nine-storey development in London’s Hackney district for Telford Homes.

In a statement, Waugh Thistleton said the building would be somewhat shorter than the 13-storey dRMM tower in Norway, but that the dRMM has a concrete core. The Residential Tower will be ‘the first building in the world of the height to construct not only load-bearing walls and floor slabs but also stair and lift cores entirely from timber.’ The building will also incorporate wind turbines and will get more than 15% of its energy needs from these.

7: The Burj al-Taqa, Dubai

The Burj al-Taqa, Dubai

Proving that even oil-rich nations are heeding the green clarion, the Burj al-Taqa, or ‘energy tower,’ hopes to continue its home country’s run of giant buildings by becoming the tallest green skyscraper in the world. It will house a 200-foot wind turbine on the top, which will put the Burj at number 22 on the ‘world’s tallest buildings’ list – if it gets the green light.

The Burj will also have 161, 459 square feet of solar panels covering a chain of artificial islands connected to the building, and seawater will play its part in powering the building too.

6: The Hearst Tower, New York City

The Hearst Tower, NYC

The Hearst Tower became the first skyscraper in New York to achieve LEED Gold status from the USGBC when it opened. Built of 80% recycled steel, the floors and ceilings are also of recycled materials and the building was built of diamond pattern frames, achieving greater rigidity with less materials. Rainwater is collected on the roof and funnelled into a 14,000 gallon tank in the basement, and half of the tower’s water usage is accounted for in this way. The rainwater is also used in the building’s cooling system and the innovative lobby water sculpture.



5: The CIS Tower, Manchester

The CIS Tower, Manchester

The CIS Tower, in Manchester, is a grade II listed building, completed in 1962, and refurbished extensively in 2004, when the building was covered with a new skin of building-integrated photovoltaic cells, allowing solar energy to begin feeding energy into the National Grid in 2005. There are also 24 wind turbines hidden on the roof, supplying 10% of the tower’s electricity.




4: The Lightwing Tower, Dubai

The The Lightwing Tower, Dubai

Dubai’s next contribution to the greenscraper race is the Lightwing Tower, otherwise known as the International Finance Tower. Built to supply its own energy needs via a set of photovoltaic cells on the south-facing façade, the building also features a set of wind turbines on the roof. Conceptualized by Atkins Middle East, the tower was designed to serve the world between Western Europe and the Far East, and the project aimed for a LEED Platinum rating. The DIFC has worked to encourage other coporations to engage in more environmentally friendly practices.



3: Bank of America Tower, New York City

The Bank of America Tower, New York City

Designed by Cook + Fox Architects, the Bank Of America Tower was also aimed squarely at achieving a Platinum LEED certificate from its inception, and has since achieved the coveted accolade. The building uses rainwater capture, floor-to-ceiling windows for extra natural lighting, but also incorporates natural gas fuel cells to create on-site electricity, and sunlight-sensing LED lights for maximal efficiency.

The 55-story block, with 2.2 million square feet of space within, contains an Urban Garden and green roof spaces, intended to bring some of nature into city life. The building uses innovative efficiency measures such as waterless urinals, greywater recycling, and rainwater harvesting systems, as well as a thermal ice-storage tank that produces ice at night to reduce peak demand on the city’s power grid. The combined 4.6 megawatt cogeneration plant powers 70% of the building’s needs.


2: Pearl River Tower, Guangzhou

The Pearl River Tower, Guangzhou

Pearl River Tower will harness wind to reduce its carbon footprint and energy requirements. Designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the building was completed in March of 2011. The office tower holds several global cachets including the largest radiant cooled office building in the world, the most energy-efficient supertall building in the world, and it stands as a symbol of China;s intentions to drive down its CO2 emmissions per unit of GDP by 40-45%, as compared to 2005 levels. Since China is well on track to become the world’s largest economy, this is highly important.

Pearl River Tower was intended to produce more energy than it consumes, by picking up what it can from the surrounding natural environment and passive forces at work around the building.

Among its features are wind turbines powering the HVAC system, solar energy collection systems, and a rainwater harvesting system that is partially solar heated. The building features three wind tunnels built in between the floors and airflow is channelled into these to power turbines, simultaneously reducing the building’s wind drag.

1: The Bahrain World Trade Centre Towers, Kingdom of Bahrain

The  Bahrain World Trade Centre Towers, Kingdom of Bahrain

Three 96-foot propellers suspended between the towers will supply the 42-storey building with over 1100 megawats per year – about 15% of the building’s energy use. The building has been designed so that its shape creates an accelerated airflow towards the giant blades.

The tower has been held up as an example of sustainable technology since its completion, and it’s a sustainable destination that has it all, including legendary views of the Persian Gulf.

Written by writer on Overseas Real Estate

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