The health and wellness of employees extend beyond creating greener, more sustainable business practises. Many of the recent advances in green building are also keeping employees healthier than ever before. Sustainable office buildings seem to be the wave of the future
With the alarming changes in global climate and the running out of non-renewable energy resources, sustainability in design has become an essential requirement and not just a design option. Architects from around the globe are now competing to design the most energy-efficient buildings and achieve the highest energy and green building rating scores.
Sustainable architecture has become very common, today, and the newly developed technologies to enhance it are in continuous and rapid development. So, here is a list of 10 of the world’s most sustainable office buildings and a brief on the techniques they have adopted to enhance performance, reduce energy consumption and provide a healthy working environment.
THE EDGE – AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS
This office building in the Zuidas business district was designed by London-based PLP Architecture. It features a 15-storey atrium, which connects its interior space to the outside world and reflects a contemporary working environment. The Edge happens to have achieved the highest BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method) rating ever. It particularly standouts for its rooftop solar panels, which cover a vast area of 4,100m2.
Its massive atrium, which faces the north, allows daylight to flood the building. And Ethernet-powered LED-connected lighting, which can be controlled from smartphones, is used for the offices. The building also has sensors to measure temperature and carbon dioxide levels. It is also provided with a rainwater harvesting system that utilises reserved water for toilet flushing and plant watering.
BULLITT CENTER – SEATTLE, USA
This 6-storey commercial office building was designed by Miller Hull Partnership for the Bullitt Foundation to be certified as a “Living Building”. It was provided with a rainwater harvesting system that is capable of collecting and filtering 56,000 gallons of water. It also has five aerobic composters that treat human waste efficiently and without releasing an unpleasant odor.
The building’s rooftop additionally carries photovoltaic cells which generate 230,000 kilowatt-hours a year, which is the needed amount to operate the building.
RB12 – RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
The Sao Paolo / Paris-based Triptyque designed the RB12 commercial building to reanimate downtown Rio while adopting positive energy and sustainable development strategies. The building produces its own needs of electricity via photovoltaic cells. It has a bioclimatic façade with windows that automatically control light intake, allowing for optimized daylight entry, and it carries gardens on its terraces which contribute to the cooling process of the interior spaces.
PIXEL – MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
Studio505 was assigned by Grocon Construction and Development Company to design a 6 Star Greenstar Carbon Neutral Development and Sales office building. The relatively small building integrates multiple environmental systems to enhance the overall building performance.
The systems include an extensive green roof and a rainwater collection system which might be capable of making the building self-sustainable regarding the water supply. It also features a quite remarkable façade that combines playfulness with functionality—it is composed of fixed shading louvers, double-glazed curtain walls, and solar panel shades. Pixel has managed to achieve a perfect 100 score under the Green Star rating system as well as a LEED platinum certificate.
1 ANGEL SQUARE – MANCHESTER, UK
This office building, designed by 3DReid, has the highest BREEAM rating in the United Kingdom, with a 50% reduction in energy consumption and an 80% reduction in carbon emission, compared to the city’s other commercial buildings. It is enveloped in a double-skinned façade and high thermal mass concrete to control the heating and cooling of the building.
The building is additionally provided with a rainwater harvesting system to lower water consumption, and it uses rapeseed from local farms to produce fuel for building operation. Moreover, the designers have prepared the building for possible future climatic changes, based on the predicted weather data for 2050. They have accounted, in their design for a possible rise in average temperature by 3 – 5 degrees during summer and increased rainfall by 30% during winter.
HEKIKAI SHIN-YO KINKO, NAGOYA, JAPAN
This 4,140sq/m office building (Kengo Kuma & Associates), serves for the bank and is situated at the center of Nagoya city. The building welcomes its users with a big green void placed at a point facing the intersection of the building. This volume is designed as a “cubic green” that joins the ground and the rooftop.
Kengo Kuma wraps office building with wooden lattice in Japan. The louvers applied at the façade of the theater are laid out diagonally and resonate with the wooden louvers for the exterior of the bank. Wooden louvers not only create a gentle rhythm to the streets but also take in foresty sunbeam inside the building.
CH2 MELBOURNE CITY COUNCIL HOUSE 2 – MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
The commercial office building was designed by DesingInc. to promote the interaction between the city and nature. Its façade is designed to control the indoor climate and its concrete structure minimizes variance in temperature. The building is 100% naturally ventilated via tapered ventilation ducts.
The air is changed every half an hour, providing a continuous supply of fresh air. Natural ventilation is combined with natural lighting to reduce energy consumption. Accordingly, the building managed to satisfy and exceed the 6-star energy rating system in Australia. It is expected to cover its innovation costs within 10 years from its completion date in 2013.
GENZYME CENTER – MASSACHUSETTS, USA
The office building, designed by Behnisch & Partner, is headquarters to a number of biotech companies. Its outstanding feature is its 12-story-high atrium which provides natural light to 75% of the building and refreshes the indoor air via stack effect. Numerous Hanging mirror panels reflect the light coming through the atrium to ensure its distribution throughout most of the building.
A concrete structure is used for the building because of its various applications and high thermal mass, and the building’s green roof collects rainwater for evaporative cooling towers. Genzyme center was capable of achieving the LEED Platinum certificate for Building Design and Construction.
ONE EMBANKMENT PLACE – LONDON, UK
The world’s second-highest BREEAMrated building, in London, operates on biofuel sourced from locally collected and refined waste vegetable oil. It features green walls and gardens and saves water by using low-flush toilets and waterless urinals.
It is, also, provided with sufficient staircases in the atria to be used instead of lifts for energy saving. The 25-year-old building was refitted by London-based TP Bennett, and it had the highest BREEAM rating of 96.31% before it was surpassed by The Edge in 2016 which could get a rating of 98.36%.