3DReid’s commercial project for The Co-Operative Group’s corporate headquarters has been named the greenest building in the world.

The 14-storey building, titled One Angel Square, is located in Manchester, London and has achieved a BREEAM (The Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) score of 95.16 per cent – the highest ever awarded.

“They have created a highly sustainable, extremely low carbon space,” said Gavin Dunn, director of BREEAM, BRE Global. “An excellent working environment with deep green credentials.”

Inside the atrium

Inside the atrium

With construction by BAM, the £100 million, 500,000 square foot project was completed in 2012 and officially opened by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh last week.

From an architectural standpoint, One Angel Square is triangular but with rounded corners. Structural steelwork makes up the frame, and the façade is constructed from glass with textures and patterns to connect it to the neighboring CIS Tower, The Co-Operative Group’s previous headquarters.

From a sustainability point of view, the building features an array of environmentally-responsive features including power generated by crops grown on on-site farms and grey water and rainwater recycling. It also features an advanced heating and cooling system that collects air from concrete earth ducts in the base of the building and recycles wasted heat through the top atrium of the building.

One Angel Square's Double Glass Facade

One Angel Square’s Double Glass Facade

One Angel Square is 100 per cent naturally ventilated without the use of windows, with 50,000 litres of fresh air per second travelling in and out of the building. According to Hitchmough, thie system used is more energy efficient and practical when opening windows in large buildings where acoustics and airflow can become an issue.

High efficiency lifts operate and from the ninth floor up and the building features also gardens and step terraces to provide staff with beautiful spaces in which they can work, sit and enjoy the view.

The atrium draws in an abundance of natural light and the building’s thermal strategy includes 350,000 square feet of concrete, solar shading features, vents that open in summer at the top of level 15 along with a double skin façade that wraps around the entirety of the building.

Tiered Terraces

Tiered Terraces

“We get about 4 or 5 degrees of free cooling… on a building this size, it is a lot of energy,” says Hitchmough, who added that The Co-Operative Group is aiming to cut energy costs significantly in the new building.

According to The Co-Operative Group’s chief executive, Euan Sutherland, the company was looking to go green from the outset of the new building’s design. The brief for the building called for a low energy, highly sustainable new headquarters that seamlessly connected The Group’s 12 distinct businesses.

“It was about creating a workplace that is relevant to the modern day,” explained Hitchmough in a video presentation on the project. “There is a common mis-held belief that delivering truly sustainable buildings is expensive and a poor investment. With One Angel Square, we’ve proved on a massive scale that you can design large commercially viable office buildings, even in a regional market, that minimise waste, cost and environmental impact, through teamwork, intelligence and belief.”

Bulluit Building Seattle

Bullitt Building Seattle

“I hope it sets an example that others strive to improve upon. That can only be good for future generations,” he added.

One Angel Square is the first phase of a larger 10-year redevelopment project for the city of Manchester commissioned by The Group. The master plan, called NOMA, will see 20 acres of land transformed to deliver a mixed use environment combining commercial, retail, residential and public space.

While One Angel Square’s green efforts are impressive, it remains debatable whether it really is the world’s greenest building.

There is an abundance of contenders for that title, including Seattle’s Bullitt Centre, which also took claimed to the title upon completion due to its net zero energy use, utilisation of green building materials and solar power generation. It was also the US first office building to use harvested rainwater.

Pixel Building, Melbourne

Pixel Building, Melbourne

In Australia, Grocon’s Pixel building in Melbourne is recognised as the country’s greenest commercial building.

Pixel was the first carbon neutral building in Australia to achieve the maximum Green Star points ever awarded, earning a perfect score of 100 points under the Green Star rating system for building design, a system which requires only 75 points for a building to earn 6 Star Green Star status.

Recognised by its colourful paneled façade, Pixel has also achieved a perfect 105 points under the US LEED rating scheme, making it the highest LEED-rated building in the world. It is also aiming to exceed the highest score yet achieved under the UK BREEAM rating systems, which would move One Angel Square into second place.