Earth Day may come only once a year, but environment-friendly design is here to stay as a year- round art in building construction.
The American Institute of Architects picked a few green projects as the topmost ones in the world. These green buildings ranged from residential and office spaces to research facilities and medical centres.
These buildings used various strategies like optimising stormwater management, day-lighting and natural ventilation. As for external savings, these buildings have good access to transit facilities, walking and bicycle paths. This discourages use of single passenger car travel which is the norm in American cities.
A good example of such a building is the Bullitt Center in Seattle, Washington. Spread over 52,000 square feet, it has been labelled as the ‘living building’. This is a certification assigned by the Living Building Challenge which is a rigorous international sustainable building certification programme based on prior performance rather than just projections.
The Canmet Materials Technology Laboratory in Ontario is probably the most impressive structure. This building optimises radiant heating and cooling and also maximises solar collection. These features helped the 174,300 square feet achieve a 70% energy reduction — a monumental and significant achievement for a building of this size.
The Collaborative Life Services Building in Portland, Oregon has used energy-efficient initiatives such as light pollution reduction, stormwater management, and non-potable water for flushing and heat-recovery for its soaring atrium. Since the building is 650,000 square feet, such features are responsible for quite a bit of savings.
When one sees how these sustainable buildings are conserving energy on such a huge scale, one wonders why all buildings are not mandated to follow such standards. After all, we could benefit greatly from such features.