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Green building

Green building: features and famous examples

Recyclable materials, rainwater harvesting, use of energy from renewable sources: here are some examples of green buildings

It may seem like a trend of the moment, but the design of green buildings will soon become the standard for the construction of all types of buildings. From zero-energy buildings to passive ones, the objective is to reduce environmental impact with solutions ranging from tradition to innovation.

Let’s not be unprepared, therefore, and see what is meant by green buildings, what characteristics cannot be missing, and which famous examples we could take as inspiration.

Green buildings: what are they

Green buildings, also known as green buildings or sustainable buildings, are constructions designed and built with the aim of minimizing their impact on the environment and promoting sustainability throughout their life cycle, from design to demolition, to material recycling. These buildings are designed with the utmost attention to energy saving, responsible use of resources, and inhabitant comfort.

The design of a green building requires a series of special attentions to maximize energy efficiency, reduce environmental impact, and promote sustainability.

green buildings - Sustainable building techniques

Sustainable building techniques

Here are some key aspects considered during the design of a green building:

  • Orienting and passive design: the arrangement and orientation of the building can maximize the use of natural light and optimize summer and winter air conditioning. This may include the position and size of windows, the shape of the building, and the use of elements such as adjustable sunshades, green roofs, ventilation chimneys, ventilated facades, double skin, etc., to reduce solar heating and improve natural ventilation;
  • Energy efficiency: use of high-efficiency insulation materials, high-performance windows, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, and integration of technologies for automated control of energy systems;
  • Renewable energy sources: installation of systems for energy production from renewable sources such as solar panels, photovoltaics, wind turbines, or cogeneration systems can help reduce the use of energy from non-renewable sources. In the design phase, support from tools and photovoltaic software is necessary to size the plants for the production of electricity from renewable sources, evaluate the correct positioning to maximize performance, and optimize the return on investment times;
  • Sustainable materials: the use of low environmental impact building materials, recycled and recyclable, or from renewable sources can reduce the overall environmental impact of the building. This includes materials such as certified wood, recycled concrete, natural insulation, and low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paints;
  • Water management: implementation of systems for rainwater collection, graywater reuse, and wastewater management can reduce overall water consumption and promote the water sustainability of the building;
  • Indoor environmental quality: use of non-toxic and low VOC materials to ensure a healthy and comfortable indoor environment, along with solutions to maximize natural light and ventilation;
  • Waste management: integration of systems for separate waste collection during construction and use of the building, as well as planning for recycling and reuse of materials at the end of the building’s useful life;
  • Monitoring and optimization: installation of monitoring and control systems to assess and optimize energy efficiency, water consumption, and indoor environment of the building over time.

By integrating these aspects into the design of a building, it is possible to create structures that reduce environmental impact and promote long-term sustainability. To have valid support in the design of sustainable buildings, you can apply the BIM methodology, use software for energy calculation, and implement BIM management platforms for managing the entire life cycle of constructions in your daily workflow.

Famous examples of green buildings

In architecture, green buildings are now numerous and increasingly an example for large and small projects of the future. Here is a top ten list of the most famous sustainable buildings in the world.

  • One Central Park, Sydney, Australia – a residential complex known for its ecological design, which includes vertical green walls, rainwater recycling systems, and a high level of energy efficiency.
  • The Edge, Amsterdam, Netherlands – an office building characterized by a roof covered with solar panels, groundwater cooling systems, and sensors to optimize resource use.
  • The Crystal, London, United Kingdom – a multifunctional building designed to maximize energy efficiency and use of renewable sources, with innovative solutions such as a photovoltaic roof, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, and water management systems.
  • Bullitt Center, Seattle, United States – known as the “greenest building in the world,” the Bullitt Center was designed to achieve the highest sustainable building standards, using recyclable materials, solar energy, and innovative rainwater management.
  • The Change Initiative Building, Dubai, United Arab Emirates – this building was designed to be a model of sustainability in the desert, with architecture that maximizes energy efficiency and use of renewable resources, including solar energy and water recycling.
  • Manitoba Hydro Place, Winnipeg, Canada – an office building that ensures energy savings of 70% compared to similar structures of the same size. Design, materials, and exposure have been designed to make the most of natural light and heat sources to minimize energy use. Triple-glazed openings limit heat loss, a green roof and a geothermal system to heat or cool the building. Its flagship, however, is the ventilation system that uses its own design and systems to provide natural air to indoor environments.
  • Pixel Building, Melbourne, Australia – completed in 2010 and designed by Studio 505, it is considered the first Australian building with net zero carbon emissions. It represents a significant example of sustainable architecture thanks to the technological solutions adopted to reduce environmental impact. The building is equipped with panels made from recycled material, mounted on a metal structure, which provide not only a distinctive aesthetic but also internal lighting and sun protection. From an energy perspective, the building is self-sufficient thanks to a photovoltaic system on the roof and visible wind turbines on the facade. To reduce energy consumption, the building has advanced insulation, a green roof with rainwater collection and reuse system, and a natural ventilation system. Heating and cooling are managed through a water-ammonia absorption heat pump, with efficiency higher than conventional gas boilers. In the choice of materials, recycled and low environmental impact materials are preferred, such as low carbon concrete.
  • The Parkroyal on Pickering, Singapore – this hotel is famous for its ecological design, which includes vertical gardens, solar panels, and rainwater collection systems for irrigation and cooling.
  • Shanghai Tower, Shanghai, China – a skyscraper 632 meters tall, which illuminates the entire surrounding area through wind turbines placed on the roof; the real peculiarity lies in the monitoring of natural light, filtered through a transparent double skin, with an estimated saving of about $556,000.
  • The Dock, Dublin, Ireland – this office building was designed with special attention to sustainability and innovation, with solutions such as a green roof, energy-saving lighting systems, and a design that maximizes the use of natural light.

These are just a few examples, but the list is destined to grow and be continuously updated, given the increasing attention of designers to the theme of sustainability.