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20 Most Sustainable and Green Building Examples From Across the Globe

Buildings across the globe are adopting sustainable operational and constructional strategies. The increase in the number of initiatives doesn’t just accrue from increased awareness about climate change but green buildings actually offer significant cost savings. It’s not just the new establishments are integrating it into their building design blueprints but even existing structures are being refurbished. Green buildings do offer a huge potential to the real estate industry. A green building is aimed at minimizing the use of water, optimized energy efficiency, low waste generation, conservation of natural resources and thereby offering the occupants with a healthy environment to live and work in. The push towards sustainability has also been helped by the new government initiatives taken across India. Programs like LEED specifically emphasize and encourage green building concepts while pushing us towards a greener world.


What Makes A Building Green?


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Though the concept of ‘green buildings’ is still in the developing phase in India, the Green Building Council suggests that 447 out of the registered 2,362 buildings are ‘green’. With customers getting more inclined to greener living, the number is sure to increase. So, what makes a green building?

The sustainability and environmental friendliness of a building is rated according to its:

  • Water efficiency – minimal waste
  • Optimum use of energy using natural insulation designs – use of daylight and solar cells
  • Reducing water and recycling – concepts like rainwater harvesting
  • Amount of natural green cover in and around the building
  • Overall increase in productivity of occupants

Consequently, the benefits include:

  • Lower energy bills
  • Lower water bills
  • More comfortable living/working environment
  • Reduced carbon footprint
  • Avenues for outdoor recreation
  • Improved health


Top examples of Green Buildings across the Globe


1. Council House 2, Australia

The Council House 2 in Melbourne, Australia was the first to be awarded the Six Green Star Rating. The features include gas-fired cogeneration plants that reduce carbon emissions, 85% reduction in energy consumption by 48m2 of solar panel installation and lighting technology like T5.



2. DPR Construction’s Phoenix Regional Office, Arizona

The project was awarded the Net Zero Energy Building certification and the LEED-NC Platinum Certification. This was achieved by incorporating 87 windows that open and close depending on the necessary indoor insulation and humidity, an 87 ft zinc clad solar chimney to draw in cool air and push out warm air from the building, ISIS fans, 82 solatubes and ‘vampire’ shut off switch to turn off the energy when no one is in the building!


3. Shanghai Tower, China

The second tallest building in the world, the Shanghai Tower is also Shell Platinum and LEED Core certified. The construction of the tower was done from locally sourced materials, some of which included recycled materials. The design of the building is 1200 curved to optimize wind load. The double skin façade further allows additional insulation. All of this is topped with sky gardens, vertical wind turbines, rainwater harvesting, black water treatment and more.


4. The Edge, Netherlands

The Netherlands headquarters of Deloitte, The Edge achieved 98.36% in the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology (BREEAM) – the best ever in its time. The building integrates 65,000 sq ft of solar panel installations, Ethernet powered LEDs, rainwater harvesting, aquifer and occupancy monitoring.


5. Bullitt Center, Washington

This Seattle building was the first of its kind to receive Living Building Certification from International Living Future Institute’s Living Building Challenge. It features 575 solar panels, generating 60% of the energy requirement of the building, a 56,000 gallon cistern for rainwater collection which is thereby treated and supplies for the building’s water needs. Also, the building construction uses wood from sustainably harvested forests.


6. One Angle Square, UK

The highest rank in the BREEAM score, this office building uses rainwater harvesting and water recycling along with solar building design.



7. Bahrain World Trade Center, Bahrain

The 240 m high structure incorporates 3 sky bridges, each fitted with 225kW wind turbines and taking care of 15% of the power requirements.




8. Bank of America Tower, USA

This 366m and 55 storied building in Manhattan is the most environment-friendly office space in the USA. The features include rainwater harvesting and use, recycled construction materials, and floor to ceiling windows for greater insulation. It is the first of skyscrapers in the USA to hold the Platinum LEED Certification.


9. The Change Initiative Building, UAE

This 4,000 sq m shopping complex integrates a lot of green technologies including heat reflective wall paint, solar panels, and recycled materials for indoor construction.




10. The Crystal, UK

Home to the world’s most sustainable event venue, the 18,000 sq m complex is 90% water self-sufficient, solar and thermal roof panels and a high performance ‘insulation glazing’.  It tops the LEEDs Platinum and the BREAM Outstanding Sustainability scores.



11. One Bryant Park, USA

The first in USA to achieve the LEED Platinum Certification, One Bryant Park is possibly the greenest skyscraper today. This has been achieved by waterless urinals, CO2 monitors, LED lighting and a power generation plant contributing 4.6 MW of sustainable and clean energy.



12. Pearl River Tower, China

Located in Guangzhou, the 309 m tower uses low energy lighting, solar panels and wind turbines to generate and save power. A lot goes into the physical design of the building to make it self-sustainable.



13. Powerhouse Kjørbo, Norway

This powerhouse comprises of two buildings near Oslo that demonstrates how existing buildings can be renovated to become self sustainable and green. The building incorporates 100% energy savings by using solar panels, environment sustainable raw materials for construction and 10% water saving along with aiming to have a zero carbon footprint by 2070.



14. Micro Emission Sun-Moon Mansion, China

Currently, the largest solar structure in the globe, the premises has been host to International Solar Cities Conference, 2010. The building is designed to have a fan like roof structure that is covered by solar panels, 5000 m2 of it. Energy saving technologies, sun shades and other innovations help this building save 2.5 tons of coal, 8.6 in toxic emissions and 6.6 million kWh in electricity.


15. Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, UAE

The center of UAE’s developmental research, the Masdar Institute saves 51% electricity and 54% water compared to similar buildings in the UAE.




16. Vancouver Convention Center West, Canada

Sea water heating/cooling, green roofing, a fish habitat and even on-site water treatment facility makes it one of the most promising green building designs in the world. Further, the facility recycles about 180,000 kg of waste annually.



17. Vanke Center, China

Located in Shanghai, the Vanke Center is a horizontal skyscraper that is supported by a landscaped garden. The building design makes maximum use of natural air for insulation. The landscaping uses several tropical plants that enhance the ‘green’ quotient of the building. The tsunami proof building is another LEED Platinum entry from China.



18. Manitoba Hydro Place, Canada

The headquarters of Manitoba Hydro, this building has been time-tested for offering self-renewable water power. The building design further responds to climatic changes to offer changing levels of insulation and humidity.



19. Qatar National Conference Center, Qatar

The first of its kind, this building is LEED Gold Certified. The building has been designed to incorporate energy efficient fixtures and water conservation. It achieved 32% more energy savings than similar buildings in the capital city.



20. CIS Tower, UK

An office skyscraper, the CIS Tower in the UK is the tallest of its kind outside London. An extensive renovation resulted in a façade covered in solar cells that now generate over 180,000 kWh of electricity, making the building self-sustainable. Further, 24 wind turbines in the roof add to the energy savings and accounting for 10% of the electricity requirement.



Green Buildings in India


The concept of Green Buildings is not new to India as well. There are several examples that can lead the way for future real estate and infrastructure development in the country. They include:

1. Suzlon One Earth, Pune

An office complex, Suzlon One Earth is LEED Platinum Certified and incorporates “office garden” throughout the premises. The buildings power requirement comes from wind turbines, 18 of which are located on-site. Use of maximum daylighting and rainwater harvesting add to the building’s green features.

2. The Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Hyderabad

The 6th busiest airport in the country, the RGIA is designed to consume minimum electricity and water while promoting a green campus. In the past couple of years, the facility has been able to minimize its carbon footprint by as much as 3331 tons.

3. The Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Center, Hyderabad

LEED Platinum certified this architectural masterpiece eliminates all waste by recycling it within the facility. Even the construction is completely made out of recycled materials.

4. Infosys Limited, Mysore

Another LEED Platinum certified building, the 5 storeys and 780,000 sq ft structure incorporates water savings, sustainable site development, energy efficiency, uses recycled materials for construction and conserves the environment quality. It consumes 40% less energy than similar buildings.

5. Infinity Benchmark, Kolkata

A 20 storied building, it was the 7th construction in the world to become LEED Platinum certified. The structure incorporates rainwater harvesting, CO2 monitoring sensors; humidification controls and wastewater recycle system. The roof is further covered in polyurethane for improved insulation.

Buildings have always been a major consumer of electricity, not only during the operation phase but also during the construction. Climate change has become a real problem today and it has been too long that we have exploited our natural resources. Green buildings are definitely a step towards sustainability and making this world a cleaner and greener place.


Curated by editor at  Wienerberger India

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