If we want to show you some of the world’s most sustainable buildings, it’s because we want to point out that it’s not enough to drive an electric car to save energy; the approach must be extended to every activity that relies on electricity.
In this sense, the American Cascadia Centre for Sustainable Design and Construction in Seattle, Washington is the perfect example: rarely has one seen a more self-sustainable building.
Thanks to an extensive photovoltaic array, the building produces all the electricity it needs and saves water through a wastewater management system, while always on the lookout for progressive planning and technological developments. That’s why it was among the first American commercial buildings to earn a “living building” status – a proof of its success.
Next on the list is another American building: the ASU Polytechnic Academic Buildings in Mesa, Arizona. The Lake|Flato and the RSP Architects have designed the building in 5 different spaces so that each and every one feeds on the energy it harvests.
Another energy-efficient building in our top 5 list is the Urban Remediation and Civic Infrastructure Hub, this time in Brazil’s Sao Paolo. This is somewhat different, because it resides in one of the biggest informal communities (in the Paraisópolis favela) and the geography of the place hasn’t been very kind: erosion and severe mudslides.
Another reason for being atypical is because it improves the living standard of local people: it offers an environment for urban agriculture, a water management system that makes use of rainwater and a better transport infrastructure. And because the complex stretches vertically as well as horizontally, they will get to enjoy a music school, a small concert hall and sports facilities.
Now, it’s Europe’s turn to show off: the Sustainable LEED Gold Office Tower in Warsaw, Poland first strikes you through its style. However, its glass façade is not just pretty: its transparency is completely functional by encasing sun shading and light reflection systems. The rainwater hitting the inclined roof is also smartly collected and used.
Unintentionally, our grand tour of the world’s smartest buildings ends with an American example – the Centre for Life Science in Boston, Massachusetts. The focus here is to use water as efficiently as possible and the annual 1 million gallons of water is there to prove it. The number became reality after installing a reclaim tank, which collects the rain and uses the residue water from lab processes for toilets.
In conclusion, what all these buildings have in common is a continuous quest to be self-reliant, to consume the energy it produces, not only in terms of electricity, but also in what water is concerned. And they achieve that not only through smart systems, but also through smart design – anything to make them sustainable. So, they’re not all the same, but the underlying principle is: make the most of what you’ve got!
Mike is a master student of graphic design and is particularly interested in green designs and green technologies that affect people directly. Besides publishing, he supervises any changes in the site's aesthetics. The current logo is his concept.