Energy Watch recently had the pleasure of catching up with renowned green architect and ecologist Ken Yeang. When we speak of building a greener future, there is perhaps nobody more qualified to explain how that future is constructed on the ground.
“Green design, and all of humanity’s interventions with nature, must be guided by the science of ecology. This must be the approach to addressing the redesigning, reinventing and remaking of our human-made world, including the restoration and rejuvenation of the ecological systems,” argues Ken.
He’s clear too what a green building must be in his own eyes. “It must be functional, meaning it must ‘work’. It must be immensely aesthetically fulfilling. It must be useful and meet local needs. It must give joy, happiness and pleasure. It must be green and ecologically sustainable.”
So what does that mean in practice? Here are 5 world-leading eco-buildings that offer exceptional efficiency alongside the pure joy and aesthetics that Ken argues an outstanding design should deliver.
1) Malaysia: Suruhanjaya Tenaga’s Diamond Building
The Energy Commission’s Diamond Building represents perhaps the pinnacle of Malaysia’s rapidly emerging eco-design landscape. This iconic award-winning building, located in Putrajaya, was conceptualised and delivered to offer an aesthetically outstanding design with equally outstanding energy efficiency.
Its tilting façade, photovoltaic installations, insulated building envelope and a range of other carefully planned features deliver astonishing energy efficiency. Its Building Energy Index rating, a measure of energy efficiency, reveals a 65% reduction on the average energy use per square foot comparable to other office buildings in Malaysia.
2) Singapore: National Library of Singapore
Designed by Ken Yeang himself, the National Library of Singapore provides a beautifully enjoyable municipal building with exceptional green credentials thanks to its use of bioclimatic design techniques. The overall design comprises two buildings joined by a central atrium, providing outstanding natural light and ventilation.
The National Library of Singapore is orientated across an east-west axis that avoid exposure to the afternoon sun, reducing energy needs for cooling, with sunshade blades lining the exterior to further reduce heat and glare. Smart sensor technology within the building helps to manage energy and water usage. The building also includes 14 landscaped garden spaces, helping regulate temperature and enhancing that vital aesthetic element that Ken cites as being so important to the spirit of eco-design.
3) Netherlands: Deloitte HQ
Deloitte’s ultra-efficient Amsterdam headquarters not only takes its place amongst the world’s most efficient buildings, it’s arguably the world’s smartest building too. It offers a truly unique look at how smart technology is delivering more efficient environments.
While also including traditional features of established eco-architecture practice, for example an atrium similar to Singapore National Library and an energy efficient building envelope, Deloitte’s HQ’s energy efficiency is further enhanced by smart working supported by over 30,000 internal sensors. These sensors are fitted roughly every 2 feet within the building, monitoring elements such as humidity, temperature and even internal CO2 levels. They not only feed into a smart environment that monitors and adjusts energy use, it enables a more advanced working environment that allows its human inhabitants to operate in a far more energy efficient way.
4) China: Shanghai Tower
Shanghai Tower claims to be the world’s most sustainable skyscraper, and it’s designers have certainly gone to great lengths (and height) to achieve those goals. At 632 metres tall, Shanghai Tower dominates the city’s skyline, and boasts top global green ratings for its sustainable design.
Shanghai Tower takes eco-conscious design to a new level, with the building envelope providing an insulating layer lined with over 10 acres of sky gardens. The cherry very literally on top of this visionary design comes with a series of wind turbines at the top of the tower, which combined with other design elements helps Shanghai Tower produce energy savings of up to 22% against comparable skyscrapers.
5) United Kingdom: Bloomberg’s European HQ
Iconic global media company Bloomberg’s London-based headquarters claims to hold the title of the world’s most sustainable office building. It received an exceptional score of 98.5% on the globally recognised BREEAM sustainability assessment, the highest score ever achieved by a major office development.
The Bloomberg European HQ not only utilises natural ventilation and smart airflow methods, it benefits from integrated ceiling panels that control temperature, water conservation methods designed to save 25 million litres of water annually, and combined heat and power on-site generation which will reduce CO2 emissions by up to 750 metric tonnes a year.