Feature

Sustainable construction: 10 ground-breaking buildings


James Addison

A look at 10 of the most impressive sustainable builds in the world, with a view to exploring how sustainable architecture initiatives could make a zero carbon 2016 more achievable.

Over time, buildings can cause damage to the environment unless they’re designed and constructed with eco-friendly initiatives at the forefront. With the principles of sustainable influencing various aspects of every build, a forward-thinking approach to residential architecture is becoming increasingly important. Following is a look at 10 notable examples of sustainable buildings across the globe: 

1. PricewaterhouseCoopers Building, London. The PricewaterhouseCoopers building is the most environmentally friendly building in London. Sustainable design is evident from the very foundations of the building - which uses 80% recycled materials, and continues through to the control of the building’s temperature by using recycled waste heat. The property also allows workers to control the light and temperature of their work area, guaranteeing that no unnecessary energy is wasted.

2. Cherokee Studios, Los Angeles. Cherokee Studios is situated in the heart of Los Angeles and is ranked among the most eco-friendly buildings in America. The property gained its title thanks to its passive cooling system and daytime lighting, reducing the need for electricity during the day. Cherokee Studios pride themselves on being highly energy efficient, stating that, “from lower energy bills to a smaller environmental footprint, no single detail was overlooked in the green design of this building.”

3. The Sustainability Treehouse, West Virginia. This unique piece of innovative architecture is situated in the forest at Summit Bechtel Reserve, West Virginia — and houses a range of educational activities. The Sustainability Treehouse is designed with performance in mind and is renowned for ‘going green.’ In an effort to minimise energy wastage, the original interior building size was reduced from 20,000 square feet to just 3,360 square feet — instead using the outdoor site to provide much of its activity area.

4. Robert Redford Building, Santa Monica. The Robert Redford Building is home to the National Resources Defense Council and was the first structure in the US to achieve the illustrious accolade of being a LEED Version 2 Platinum green building. The building uses a remarkable 60% less water than similar structures, by capturing and filtering all water and using it to complete energy sapping tasks like flushing toilets. The building’s electricity consumption is also reduced by at least 60%, thanks to its use of natural rather than electric light.

5. Clinton Presidential Library, Arkansas. According to the US Green Buildings Council, the Clinton Presidential Library is one of the most environmentally conscious places to work in America. Thanks to its increase in recycling and source reduction for essential materials, the building received a platinum rating in the LEED for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB) Green Building rating system.

6. Lance Armstrong Foundation, Austin, Texas. Built on the premises of an old warehouse, the Lance Armstrong Foundation was adapted into a multifunctional and spectacularly sustainable building. The new build implemented north-facing windows to optimise natural daylight and also reused 88% of the original building's materials in its construction.

7. Marco Polo Tower, Germany. Situated in Hamburg, Germany, the Marco Polo Tower combines aesthetic impact with an ecological design to create a high-class residential building that keeps sustainable initiatives at the forefront. Standing 55 metres high, the tower implements the use of solar panelling to produce significant amounts of renewable energy — power used to cool rooms throughout the building.

8. Arizona State University, Arizona. Once known for its inefficient approach to energy saving, Arizona State University’s Health Services Building’s new design approach has earned it LEED Platinum status - and it’s now known as being one of the top energy performers on the university’s campus. The redesigned, more sustainable structure places an emphasis on the relationship between students and teachers and the natural environment.

9. Marsh House, Nottingham. Home to architect Julian Marsh and wife Judy Liebert, Marsh House was built as a testament to their passion for low-energy living, with many of the materials used throughout the build eventually becoming part of the finished product. The couple take their green lifestyle seriously, opting to store their food in ventilated larders rather than an energy-guzzling fridge.

10. The Blooming Bamboo, Vietnam. The Blooming Bamboo is a Vietnamese prototype home which will eventually provide an affordable housing option to the country’s citizens. The structure is built on stilts designed to make it flood-proof, and constructed entirely from locally sourced materials. With bamboo, coconut leaves and fiberboard providing the basics of the build, the homes are predicted to cost just $2,500.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James Addison of Unit One Architects. From exploring sustainable design initiatives for an existing property to helping clients develop an eco-friendly property from scratch, the experts at Unit One Architects know what it takes to create an extraordinary sustainable space.
 

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Energy efficiency  •  Geothermal  •  Green building  •  Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Solar electricity

 

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