In an effort to better the planet and limit climate change, many architects are incorporating sustainable elements into their designs. A few have gone above and beyond to create some of the most energy-efficient and sustainable buildings in the world. Check out where you can find these amazing buildings and what special features make them particularly eco-friendly.
ENERGY STAR and LEED
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To understand the impact these sustainable buildings have, it’s important to know a few things about building certifications. In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awards the ENERGY STAR label to commercial buildings that meet strict energy-efficiency specifications. On average, these buildings use 35 percent less energy and produce 35 percent less carbon monoxide compared to typical buildings.
Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system is used to certify buildings that meet environmentally responsible standards for design, construction, operation, and maintenance. Many people also seek this certification for homes since it typically increases the market value significantly.
Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies
Located on the campus of Oberlin College in Ohio, the Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies utilizes a variety of energy-saving strategies to lessen its impact on the environment. Students at this college can get a first-hand look at how solar panels, sustainable water treatment systems, geothermal wells and other environmentally friendly practices work since the building uses each of them. It has also won a number of important honors, including Architect Magazine’s Progressive Architecture Award for the most important green building constructed in the past 30 years.
Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre
Sustainability takes center stage at the Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre in Hyderabad, India, where the Confederation of Indian Industry offers advisory services in the area of green practices. Leaders from all kinds of industries visit this LEED Platinum-rated building to learn about energy efficiency, water management, renewable energy and, of course, green buildings. Thanks to its sustainable design, the building saves 50 percent in energy use and 35 percent in water consumption. Additionally, 80 percent of the materials used here are recycled or recyclable.
Robert Redford Building
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Located in Santa Monica, California, the Robert Redford Building is the National Resources Defense Council headquarters. Given this group’s focus on environmental advocacy, it seems only fitting that their building is one of the most energy-efficient in the world. It actually uses 60 percent less water than a building of comparable size by filtering rain, shower and sink water.
Additionally, the Robert Redford Building uses 60 to 75 percent less electricity by employing various strategies, including natural light, occupancy sensors, and ENERGY STAR-certified products. The biggest reduction in electricity consumption comes from energy-saving solar panels that meet 20 percent of the building’s electricity needs. Plus, only recycled or recyclable materials are used in this structure. Due to these and other environmentally responsible efforts, this was the first structure in the U.S. to earn the LEED Version 2 Platinum green building rating, which is the highest possible level of sustainable design.
This office building located in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, features some of the latest technologies in energy efficiency and sustainable design. In order to meet strict standards, designers incorporated over $10 million in upgraded specifications. Some of the key sustainable design features include high-performance double-glazing on windows, exterior sun shading, and state-of-the-art ventilation systems. Solar panels supply the majority of the building’s electricity needs.
Though the investment to develop and include these sustainable features was substantial, the building continues to save a significant amount on operation costs through low energy and electricity use. Santos Place has also earned a 6-Star Green Star and a 5.5 Star NABERS energy rating in Australia.
While countries like the U.S., Australia, and India are leading the way in sustainable building design, others are following suit. Exceptionally green buildings can now be found in places all over the world, from Dubai to Hamburg to Budapest, marking an important shift that will provide long-term benefits for the environment.