While the number of green buildings worldwide keeps growing, there are a few vying for the title of “greenest building in the world.” They strive to reach the most advanced measure of sustainability possible. And although sustainability is always at the core, the approaches these buildings take are different based on geographic location and use.
The Bullitt Center in Seattle is one of the newest buildings vying for this green title. Set to open this fall as a net-zero energy building, the Bullitt Center’s solar array plans to generate as much electricity as it needs. Large, operable windows will allow for plenty of fresh air. Rainwater will be collected on the roof and used throughout the facility, while human waste will be composted through bins in the basement as part of a composting toilet system. The building is not supposed to contain any “Red List” hazardous materials, such as PVC, cadmium, lead, etc. It will also make use of an applied air barrier, which acts like a rain jacket for the building.
Phipps Conservatory’s Center for Sustainable Landscapes in Pittsburgh opened early this year and uses an “outside-in, passive-first” approach to heating and cooling. Geothermal wells tied to a heat pump system are used only after two other systems have reached their maximum capacities. Alternative energy is achieved through solar and wind power. The Center also makes use of a system that incorporates wetland basins filled with plants in special gravel to promote micro-ecosystem development. As water moves through, the basins are repeatedly flooded and then drained, creating several tidal cycles each day to achieve high-quality reusable water.
Built in 2006, Melbourne’s Council House 2 (CH2) 10-story building makes use of many innovative, technological features. To control sunlight, exterior recycled timber louvers are controlled by photovoltaic cells and shower towers that draw air from high above street level. In these towers, water droplets evaporate slightly as they use up energy, cooling the air in the building as a result. The waste heat generated inside the building is also recycled for CH2’s HVAC system.
Would you consider using the green solutions in these facilities for your own building? Are they realistic?