The ten best sustainable structures around the world – Part Two

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Sustainable design doesn’t just look good, it’s good for the environment and makes people feel good. In Part One of The ten best sustainable structures around the world we went through half of the top 10 sustainable buildings worldwide. Now let’s break down the top five.


5. Apple Park, Silicon Valley, USA

The Apple Park is known for its curved glass exterior making its mark in Silicon Valley. Just as notable, its 70,000 square foot rooftop is covered with 3,000 solar panels.

The review of the campus, featured in The Green Journal, states that the campus has ”…the largest free standing carbon-fiber roof ever constructed. The roof has 44 identical radial panels that average 70 feet long and 11 feet wide.” Energy efficiency is an integral part of its design. The building relies on the mild weather of Cupertino to keep the building comfortable through the fresh air ventilation system. The Apple Park is surrounded by nature, filled with lush greenery and walking paths.


4. One Bryant Park, New York, U.S.

One Bryant Park, including the Bank of America Tower, was the first high-rise building to be given LEED Platinum certification. According to The Durst Organization, this environmentally responsible high-rise office building has reduced energy consumption by a minimum of 50%, reduced potable water consumption by 50%, and reduced stormwater contribution by 95%. During construction, they took the most sustainable route and utilized 50% recycled materials in building construction and obtained the other 50% of the building materials locally, within 500 miles of the site. 

With higher ceilings and insulated glass floor-to-ceiling windows the building receives the maximum amount of natural light inside. The presence of high natural light decreases electricity usage and costs. Rather than standard air conditioning, the filtered under-floor air distribution system and floor-by-floor air handling units enable individual occupant control. This system works alongside carbon dioxide monitors that automatically adjust the amount of fresh air when needed, resulting in a 95% efficient air filtration system. On top of all this, the building decreases water usage through a gray-water system that captures and re-uses rainwater (helping save millions of gallons of water annually), waterless urinals, and low-flow fixtures.

Incredibly, One Bryant also has a state-of-the-art onsite co-generation plant that provides 4.6 megawatts of clean, efficient power and a thermal storage system at the cellular level that produces ice in the evening when electricity rates are lowest. The LED lights reduce electricity usage through daylight dimming. The building mitigates the urban heat island effect through the absorption of heat from the green roof. 


3. One Angel Square, Manchester, UK

Built for The Co-operative Group, One Angel Square has an impressive BREEAM score of 95.16% — one of the highest given ever. (BREEAM is a European certification standard that is similar to LEED.) About 3,000 employees enjoy 325,000 square feet of open plan office space across 16 stories. The building also has a large open atrium, underground parking, an auditorium, and a gym.

The building is built to minimize the need for external heating and cooling systems through its double-skinned facade and towering open atrium. The majority of the heating and electricity for the new building is supplied by an on-site Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant, which is sustained by plant oil grown by co-operative farms. All of the remaining power is fed back into the grid. One of the most interesting energy-saving features is from the office server room, which grabs heat from the IT systems and uses it to heat the building. 


2. Bullitt Center, Seattle, U.S.

Seattle’s Bullitt Center claims to be “the greenest commercial building in the world” and was awarded the Living Building certification in 2015.  

They implemented green building technologies such as: a calculated solar array, integrated water collecting, onsite filtering, and further energy-efficient measures. The structural frame is sourced from FSC-certified wood that is sourced from a renewable nursery. Water and electricity are fully generated on-site, and the bathrooms include composting toilets and a waste-management plan. 


1. The Philip Merrill Environmental Center, Annapolis, U.S.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Philip Merrill Environmental Center in Annapolis, Maryland, is known for its water conservation and energy efficiency. It was the first building to be awarded the LEED Platinum rating in 2001. It incorporates the surrounding bay and creek into a fully functional workplace with minimal impact on nature. Constructed with sustainability in mind, all materials are either made of recycled products or created through processes that don’t damage the environment.

This cutting-edge building is designed so that every employee has a view of the Bay and lots of natural light. For water conservation, rainwater is collected and stored in three cisterns providing approximately 73% of the building’s water needs. In addition, the remains from composting toilets are used to mulch the surrounding habitat.  


Want to learn more about sustainable buildings? 

Here are a few other sustainable buildings worth consideration: 

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