- Bill Starkey
4 of the Most Impressive Green Buildings in the World
Green building requires architects and construction companies to think outside the box; invent innovate and imagine new approaches to building; and create structures that have a positive rather than negative impact on their local environment. In addition to emphasizing sustainability, green buildings prioritize the health and wellbeing of their occupants.
A green building should incorporate natural light and air flow to create healthy spaces for people to work and live. Green building centers on design, construction, and operation of buildings with an emphasis on sustainability, from the raw materials used in construction, to the building’s water and energy consumption. Green building also focuses on the building’s impact on its surroundings, as well as addressing indoor environmental quality.
From Bahrain’s World Trade Center to the Pixel Building in Melbourne, Australia, this article looks at four innovative green builds around the world and the architects behind them.
1. Pixel Building (Melbourne, Australia)
When it opened in 2010, the Pixel Building made history as the first carbon-neutral office building in Australia, generating all of its own water onsite. The development’s energy-saving features include eye-catching panels that maximize daylight, providing shade as needed. It also incorporates a series of wind turbines and a roof that captures rainwater.
Located on a key urban site in the grounds of a former brewery, the Pixel Building was designed by Decibel Architecture as a prototype “Future Office." This innovative development pushed the boundaries of what is possible in terms of green construction. It incorporated a variety of new sustainable building technologies, including water usage reduction through vacuum toilets, thermal cooling, solar and wind harnessing, and a complex water capturing system.
2. Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (Yishun Central, Singapore)
A booming Southeast Asian economy, Singapore is one of the world’s most costly municipalities. The metropolis has earned an international reputation as an advocate of sustainable infrastructure. Khoo Teck Puat Hospital is an impressive example of green building, providing a consciously made green environment for patients to receive treatment and convalesce.
Incorporating a variety of energy efficient methodologies, including a solar water heating system, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital is 27 percent more energy efficient than a conventional hospital building. Featuring a solar thermal system to meet the hospital’s hot water needs, the hospital complex also generates its own electricity through a system of solar panels.
Serving the needs of more than 700,000 residents of north Singapore, this 550-bed hospital was designed by CPG Consultants. They are credited with designing a variety of innovative projects dotting the landscape of Singapore today, including Kranji Race Course, Changi Airport, Singapore Art Museum, and Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Designed as a “garden in a hospital," Khoo Teck Puat Hospital’s tranquil parklands and gardens are carefully landscaped to integrate the picturesque surroundings. The grounds provide stunning views across Yishun Pond and a calming atmosphere that is conducive to healing.
3. World Trade Center (Bahrain, UAE)
Evocative of the sails of Arab dhow ships, Bahrain’s futuristic World Trade Center 1 and 2 stand 787 feet high. They are optimally positioned to take advantage of the island nation’s strong desert winds, incorporating three turbines mounted on sky bridges between the twin towers to generate the building’s electricity. The towers’ triangular shapes help funnel wind to the turbines, which generate around 15 percent of the buildings’ electricity.
Reflective pools located at the base of the towers help to cool the buildings through evaporation, while deep gravel roofs provide kinetic insulation, with buffer spaces incorporated between external and internal air-conditioned spaces to lessen solar gain. In addition, high-quality solar glasses also help decrease air temperature within the building.
Designed by Atkins architects, Bahrain’s World Trade Center opened in 2008. It has been recognized with numerous coveted industry awards over the years, including the NOVA Award in Innovation 2009, Best Tall Building Award – MENA Region 2008, and the EDIE Award for Environmental Excellence 2007.
4. Crystal (London, UK)
Commended as one of the world’s most sustainable buildings, the Crystal is situated near the Royal Docks. Covering an 18,000-square-meter site, the Crystal’s solar panels generate enough electricity to cover more than 20 percent of the building’s power needs. Completely electric, the Crystal is heated by ground source heat pumps, and surrounded with urban landscaping.
Designed by WilkinsonEyre and commissioned by Siemens, the Crystal was originally a think tank and exhibition center. It was later repurposed and relaunched earlier in 2022. Today, it is London’s new City Hall, and home to the London Assembly.
The all-glass development tests orthodox ideas about sustainability, minimizing energy use by incorporating advanced technology. The building is clad in six different types of insulated glass, each with varying levels of transparency to moderate frame views in and out of the building, and control solar gain.
The Crystal has exemplary sustainability credentials, including LEED Platinum and BREEAM Outstanding ratings. Incorporating a sophisticated management system that enables every aspect of the all-electric building to be monitored and fine-tuned for minimal energy consumption, enabling surplus electricity to be returned to the National Grid.