Overpopulation is one of the biggest stressors on our environment. Our planet is currently trying to support more than 7.8 billion people and according to the UN, that number is expected to go up to 8 billion by 2023. That means we’re not only overusing more of our precious resources but also using them faster than before. This is why it’s important for us to adapt to more sustainable methods of living and one of the most efficient places to start is by looking at the spaces we live in.
Sustainable architecture seeks to minimise the negative environmental impact of older, commercial projects by efficiently using natural raw materials, energy, and space and improving liveability for inhabitants through the implementation of appropriate technologies within the building.
Here are a few examples of this school of thought being implemented and the positive impact it has made on our planet.
Shanghai Tower (Shanghai, China)
The world’s second-tallest building at 2,073 feet, Shanghai Tower is an architectural wonder as well as a sustainable one.
A transparent second-skin wrapped around the building creates a buffer of captured air that serves as a natural form of ventilation, reducing energy usage by a big margin. The building also has 270 wind turbines incorporated into the facade that power its exterior lights.
CopenHill (Copenhagen, Denmark)
CopenHill, also called Amager Bakke, might be the ultimate mixed-use project.
It’s both a power plant that generates electricity by burning trash that can’t be recycled and also features amenities like a rooftop bar, fitness areas, and the world’s tallest artificial climbing wall. It also has a ski slope for some wintertime fun.
Photo Credit: snowmagazine.com
Marco Polo Tower (Hamburg, Germany)
Like its trailblazing namesake, Marco Polo Tower in Hamburg has dared to venture into space where only a few other buildings have gone before.
The spiralled stacking of the stories results from floors that are built one atop another offset by a few degrees. The recessed facades are protected from direct sun by the overhanging terraces above so that additional sunshades are not required.
Other green features include vacuum collectors on the roof, which use a heat exchanger to turn heat into a cooling system for the apartments and innovative sound-insulated air louvres that make natural ventilation possible without increased noise pollution from outside.
Photo Credit: commons.wikimedia.org
Baobab (Paris, France)
Baobab, named after the fabled tree found across Madagascar and the African savanna — is an all-wood skyscraper project proposed for Paris. What makes this project truly remarkable is that it is the first timber-framed project to include luxury and affordable housing, retail, community gardens, and a bus depot.
Just to put into perspective the environmental impact of “plyscrapers” – when built, Baobab will store an impressive 3,700 metric tons of carbon dioxide — the equivalent of removing 2,207 cars from French highways for a year or operating a home for 982 years.
Photo Credits: Michael Green Architecture
Suzlon One Earth (Pune, India)
Suzlon One Earth, the headquarters of the wind turbine supplier Suzlon, was built using only recycled and non-toxic materials. The design lets in fresh air and natural light to all parts of the campus.
The Suzlon One Earth campus has a LEED Platinum certification, awarded to the most energy-efficient and high-performance buildings, for generating some of its electrical needs on site — 80% of this power comes from wind and 20% from solar. The rest of its electricity comes from its off-site windmill farms, making it a net-zero energy building.
Photo Credits: Chaitanya products.com
Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (Hyderabad, India)
The structure of the airport is designed in such a way that it consumes less water, electricity, and conserves natural resources. Within the airport, there is a green belt of 273 hectares with numerous plants. In the last four years, RGIA has achieved energy saving pf nearly 3.97 million kWh from various energy conservation practices, reducing its carbon footprint by about 3331 tons per annum.
Credits: New Indian Express
The building construction industry produces the second-largest amount of demolition waste and greenhouse gases (35-40%). The major consumption of energy in buildings is during construction and later in lighting or air-conditioning systems.
However, these projects prove that the sustainable way doesn’t require you to sacrifice on aesthetics or luxury. Further reinforcing that this change in the industry is what we so desperately need.