‘Sustainability’ is a word that many people have heard a lot over the past few years, and sustainable practices can be applied to almost every aspect of our lives. Sustainability focuses on balancing our needs with those of the planet, and ensuring that we don’t deplete natural resources or harm the environment while doing so. These principles can be applied to the ways we shop, eat, travel, buy our clothes, and even how we construct our buildings.
Sustainable building has grown in popularity in recent years and you can now see examples of sustainable building all across the world. These projects balance architectural style with best environmental practice, and include innovative methods of food production, such as vertical farms. Many of us are becoming more and more aware of the importance of taking care of our planet, so if you want to know more about sustainable building materials and projects from firms across the world, read on for our handy guide.
What is sustainable building?
Sustainable (or ‘green’) building is a comprehensive approach to building construction and design, with a focus on responsibility to the environment. This means reducing any negative impact on the environment during the building’s life cycle, from planning and design, to construction, and the function and use of the building itself.
Sustainable building includes things like using sustainable or recycled materials, renewable energy, an eco friendly design and a focus on minimal waste. They often use solar power or other forms of renewable energy and make conscious efforts to use renewable building materials. The building is also designed to be as energy efficient as possible, with elements such as increased insulation or making the best use of natural light.
Sustainable building is also committed to preserving and protecting the natural resources around the building site, producing as little construction waste as possible and ensuring there’s no negative impact on human health, both during and after construction.
Why is it important?
According to some research, the construction industry is responsible for up to 50% of contributions to climate change, including 50% of landfill waste. There’s no denying that buildings can consume huge amounts of energy and resources, so it’s important for building and construction firms to consider their impact on the environment and act accordingly.
Sustainable building and construction methods will reduce a company’s impact on the environment and many project management companies are taking the time to research sustainable methods and materials when taking on a project. Green buildings also tend to come with lower operating costs, so they’re a great investment in the long term.
Many people are becoming more aware of the impact they have on the environment and sustainable building is an important way of boosting a building company’s reputation and sense of corporate social responsibility.
Sustainable projects around the world
Building project management firms around the world have shown their commitment to sustainable building with a range of exciting and innovative designs. From Belgium’s largest solar roof, to the bank with an eco conscience, see below to learn more about some of our favourite sustainable building projects around the world.
The Crystal – London, UK
This 18,000 square metre building can be found in London’s east end and it’s said to be one of the most sustainable events venues in the world. Commissioned by Siemens and designed by the architectural firm WilkinsonEyre, The Crystal holds Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum and BREEAM Outstanding ratings.
The building runs entirely on electricity (most is generated by solar panels) and it’s lit using energy efficient LED and fluorescent lights. These are switched on and off as required to make the most of natural daylight, while the building’s roof collects rainwater. Sewage is also treated, recycled and reused onsite and heating comes from a ground source pump system.
One Bryant Park – New York City, USA
This Bank of America Tower in Manhattan is one of the world’s greenest skyscrapers. It also holds a LEED Platinum certification and even has its own generation plant, producing 4.6 megawatts of clean and sustainable energy. Further green features include LED lighting, CO2 monitors and 60% recycled steel. One Bryant Park also surpassed its goal to recycle 75% of total construction waste, managing to reach an impressive 83%.
AECOM Tishman served as Construction Manager for this 55 storey building, which opened in 2004. The building’s design also includes floor to ceiling insulated glazing to contain heat, a rainwater reuse system and automatic dimmers to utilise natural light as much as possible.
Belgium’s largest solar roof
This impressive display of solar power can be found at ArcelorMittal’s flagship complex in Ghent. The steel and mining company installed no less than 27,000 solar panels on the roof, which have the ability to generate 10,000 MWh watts annually – enough to power 2,900 households. The firm aims to become carbon neutral by 2050 and they’ve also supplied steel for further solar projects across the globe, including in Dubai, California and Morocco.
The Tube – Tilburg, Netherlands
The official name of this structure is actually NewLogic III, but many simply call it ‘The Tube’ due to its shape. It was developed by DOKVAST, who designed a sustainable distribution centre for the company Rhenus Contract Logistics. The building scores a very impressive 99.4% in all sustainability categories and has features including triple glazed windows, a ground source heat system and automatically controlled LED lights.
The Tube is also fitted with 11,600 solar panels and has a building management system which monitors energy use, water consumption and CO2 concentrations. The building is even able to generate more electricity than it consumes, which means that the excess can be sent back to the grid.
Vertical farming – Worldwide
Also known as indoor farming, this process refers to growing plants in stacked buildings under controlled conditions. Instead of relying on solar light, vertical farming uses different waves of LED light that are tailored to the type of crop and growth stage. Vertical farms use stacked shelves of crops, making them highly versatile, and they can be housed in buildings, shipping containers, or even underground.
Vertical farming helps to reduce some of the negative impacts of traditional farming, including pollution, loss of land and high water use. It also cuts down on the pollution caused by importing food from abroad and reduces the amount of food waste.
It’s a fast growing sector and vertical farming was worth £1.72 billion worldwide in 2018, and this number is only set to grow. There are already several lucrative vertical farming projects in the UK, including Growing Underground (where microgreens and salad leaves are grown beneath the streets of Clapham), and Shockingly Fresh, a company based in Edinburgh with plans to develop 40 sites across the UK.
Imperium Engineering – Structural and Civil Engineering Services in London, Kent and Beyond
If you’ve been thinking about using sustainable materials for your next building project, get in touch with the experts to help you get the most out of sustainable building. Here at Imperium Engineering, we’re proud to offer comprehensive building services, including building design consultants, scaffolding design, civil engineering, structural surveys , project management and more.
We can help you every step of the way, from an initial sustainable design to temporary works and structural engineering services. We’re based in London and Kent, but our building design consultants are able to serve clients across the south east and Essex too. For more information about how we could help your next green project come to life, give us a call today or visit our website .