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Top 6 Energy-Efficient High-Rise Buildings in the World

High rise buildings in USA

Energy Efficient Buildings in the World

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Due to a growing population and industrialization, migration from rural areas to urban areas has increased drastically. This has resulted in rapid urbanization, deteriorating environmental conditions, and housing problems, ultimately leading to unhealthy and irregular building practices and increased energy consumption.

With the increasing energy demand, a majority of natural resources are being used in the construction industry, particularly in high-rise structures. It is getting harder and harder to meet the energy needs of high-rise buildings with non-renewable resources.

In order to meet the increasing energy demand, it is required to use existing energy in an efficient and productive way. For this purpose, the article discusses the conceptual framework which has been followed in the world’s most famous high-rise buildings.

1. Visionaire Building, New York City

The Visionaire building consists of 35 floors and is the premier example of green residential development. The 110 m tall building has achieved the title of the topmost building in terms of energy efficiency due to a dedicated and experienced team of professionals working toward the common goal of improving the built environment. The following points describe the design approaches included in the construction of the Visionaire building as an energy-efficient building:

  1. Customized building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) panels are used on the eastern and western facades of the structure to create electrical energy.
  2. The structure has a rainwater storage system that utilizes the rainwater accumulated on the roof for watering the green locations.
  3. About 35% of the structure's electrical load is provided from renewable energy sources.
  4. Self-renewing building material like bamboo was utilized at indoor locations.
  5. Green roofing application contributes to reducing the effect of heat island.
  6. Recyclable and resilient building materials were utilized, and effective usage of material was ensured during the construction.
  7. Materials used in the structure were provided from the local area. Therefore, an economically sustainable design was achieved.
  8. Non-toxic building and construction products were utilized throughout the construction of the structure.
  9. Insulating glasses are provided at outer walls to decrease the heat gain or loss by 50%.
  10. Full-length floor-to-ceiling glasses enable much better usage of natural light.
  11. The structure has a wastewater treatment system that allows the reuse of wastewater in the structure.
  12. Air filtering system enables fresh air entry inside the structure.
  13. In order to minimize the power needs of the structure, the heating and cooling systems are run with gas.
Visionaire Building, New York City

2. Solaire Building, New York City

Solaire building is a 27-story residential building with a height of 86 m. The construction of this reinforced concrete frame structure started in 2001 and was completed in 2003. Principles and strategies adopted during the construction of this energy-efficient building are discussed below:

  1. Green roof method has been used for the building to decrease the urban heat island effect.
  2. Nearly 70% of the rainwater is collected on the roof of the building and is utilized for watering the green locations.
  3. Excess water, not soaked up by greenery, is gathered with greywater in a tank, and after filtration, it is utilized for watering of the green roofing system and parks area.
  4. Anaerobic wastewater recycling system has been provided for recycling of the wastewater. The wastewater tank is provided at underground locations to reduce the space constraint.
  5. 25% of the energy needed for the building is supplied by solar cells. Providing energy by solar cells minimizes the energy usage expenses.
  6. Two-third of the building materials were sourced locally.
  7. Almost 93% of the waste material developed during the construction was recycled at the construction site itself.
  8. By selecting the recyclable construction materials, the source efficiency of the building increased.
  9. Air filtration system is provided to control the indoor air quality and also the materials that do not contain harmful components were selected for the indoor areas.
  10. Government provided tax reductions for the construction of this energy-efficient structure. The savings from reduced expenses in building and construction were used for making the building energy efficient.
Solaire Building, New York City

3. Helena Tower, New York City

The tower is a 39-story residential building comprised of reinforced concrete columns and beamless floors. The construction of tower started in 2003 and was completed at the height of 122 m in 2005. For making an energy-efficient building, the following points describe the design approaches that were included during the construction of the Helena Tower:

  1. Green roofing application contributes to reducing the city heat island effect.
  2. Rainwater is gathered and utilized in suitable areas for irrigation purposes.
  3. 20% of the electricity demand of the building is provided by solar cells.
  4. 50% of the material used in the construction of the building was provided by local suppliers. Thus, the use of local materials was promoted.
  5. High-performance façade elements were used to reduce the harmful effects of sunlight in the indoor area.
  6. Energy and source efficiency was boosted by using recyclable building materials during the construction. Thus, the expenses were reduced, and ecological contamination was minimized.
  7. The structure’s energy need is satisfied with renewable resources such as wind and solar energy.
  8. A high-performance double glass application was used to minimize the hazardous impact of ultraviolet rays on furniture.
  9. Glass-strengthened concrete was used on the outside to enable better usage of natural light.
  10. Ventilation culverts were provided on the windows for ventilation of spaces without window openings.
  11. Doors and cabinets were built of panels that are made up of wheat stalks. Such panels are eco-friendly, non-toxic, and recyclable, thus contributing to the reduction of wastes.
  12. Energy-saving power switches are used inside the building.
  13. Wastewater acquired from the water treatment plant is utilized in toilets.
  14. Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system (HVAC) were provided in such a way that ¾ area of the building was covered.
  15. All the gadgets with energy star indication were utilized to minimize energy usage.
Helena Tower, New York City

4. Burj Mohammed Bin Rashid Tower, Abu Dhabi

The residential tower has a total of 38 floors and a height of 382 m. Its construction began in 2007 and was completed in 2014. In order to meet the increasing energy demand, the following strategies were included during the construction of the Burj Mohammed Bin Rashid Tower:

  1. Triple wall exterior system was used to enhance the energy performance of the building.
  2. Exterior walls were lined with high-reflective material that requires a minimum level of maintenance to reduce the heat island effect. Therefore, the indoor heat reduction requirement was improved.
  3. The energy performance of the building was enhanced by the use of solar cells.
  4. Shading components were used on the facade to reduce heat and to provide better visuals.
  5. The orientation of the tower was such that it reduced the sun’s effect.
  6. The roofs were designed to allow the installation of a maximum number of solar panels.
  7. The power was supplied from a regional center and natural ventilation was supported by windows that can be opened.
  8. High-efficiency water fittings were utilized for the conservation of water.
  9. Local plant species were grown in the garden to decrease the requirement of water for irrigation.
  10. During the construction, local materials were used to decrease the cost of transporting the materials.
Burj Mohammed Bin Rashid Tower, Abu Dhabi

5. Telus Garden Building, Canada

The construction of the tower started in 2012 and was completed at the height of 167 m in 2016. The tower is located in Vancouver BC, Canada, and consists of a total of 53 floors. It is an office building. The design parameters included for efficient use of energy during the construction of the Telus Garden Building are discussed below:

  1. The building has received both LEED Platinum certificate and LEED Golden certificate.
  2. About 300 photovoltaic panels were installed on the roof, which produce 65000 kWh of power each year.
  3. Green roofing system application was installed to reduce the heat island effect.
  4. A motion-sensitive, energy-efficient lighting system was provided to reduce energy consumption.
  5. The structure hosts a fully incorporated and smart building system that manages all the systems, including energy-efficient lighting, heating, cooling, and smoke alarm. This system enabled the circulation of fresh air instead of recycled air.
  6. Rainwater harvesting system was installed on the roof and the water is used at appropriate locations, such as for gardening.
  7. Building contains a system that converts indoors heat for heating of air and water, thereby the consumption of power from the regional power system was reduced. Thus, every year approximately 1000 tons of CO2 gas emission is prevented.
  8. Since the building is located in proximity of the Sky Train, it hosts an electric vehicle charging station and bike facilities.
  9. Green mortgage bond was used in funding the office buildings.
Telus Garden Building, Canada

6. Sky Terrace, Singapore

Construction of the building started in 2008 and was completed in 2015. It is a 44-story residential building with four stories of underground parking. The building holds a BCA green mark platinum certificate and has been constructed using reinforced concrete to a height of 143 m. The following points describe the design methodologies adopted for energy-efficient planning during the construction of the Skey Terrace:

  1. The rainwater is collected in underground storages, and a drip irrigation system is used for irrigation purposes.
  2. From the shallow depressions in the building area, rainwater is diverted directly without any processing for growing foreign and natural plants using a bio-retention system. The remaining water is utilized for garden irrigation purposes.
  3. Energy generated by photovoltaic panels installed on the roof area is utilized for lighting of common areas and for lifts operation.
  4. High-performance double glass was installed on the exterior walls to reduce the heat effect.
  5. Energy-efficient devices for water consumption were installed. Motion-sensitive sensors were used to decrease power consumption in common areas and staircases to decrease energy consumption.
  6. Waste generated by the residents is collected through a waste chute system installed on each floor.
Sky Terrace Building, Singapore

Lesson Learned

In today’s world, when most of the population is residing in urban areas, it is very difficult to meet the increasing energy demands. Therefore, it is necessary to use the different sources of renewable energy efficiently and productively, which is also a sustainable means to meet the increased energy need.

The conceptual framework used for designing an energy-efficient high-rise building is discussed in this article. The consolidated observations are discussed below.

It is observed that the approaches such as usage of renewable energy sources, application of rainwater collection and treatment systems, reuse of treated wastewater at suitable locations, application of green roof systems to decrease the heat island impact, usage of gadgets with high performance for conserving water, usage of recyclable and regional building materials, utilizing natural lighting and ventilation to reduce energy usage, and application of high-performance facade and glass systems to reduce heat loss have a huge potential to bring down the energy consumption in any kind of building.

These practices can be adopted to design energy-efficient buildings, and consequently, may be used as a guide for the construction of conventional buildings.


What is LEED, and why is it important?

LEED (leadership in energy and environment design) is a green and energy-efficient building certification system. It is an important certification for high rise building because it provides the certification to buildings which reduces the stress on the environment.

What is an energy-efficient building?

A building in which the energy consumption is reduced by incorporating the use of natural and renewable energy sources in the design is called as energy-efficient building.

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