Green technological advancements have increased the sustainability of residential and commercial buildings around the globe.
Many individuals remain skeptical of renewable energy system benefits and choose not to invest in the devices. We may evaluate three of the greenest buildings in the world to explore their environmental and financial advantages.
Notable Green Buildings
There are various sustainable lessons we can learn from eco-conscious buildings around the world. The properties sustain themselves, producing their own energy. Renewable energy production decreases a building’s utility costs, increases its value and shrinks its carbon footprint.
Buildings that operate through a closed-loop system are net-zero properties. They generate as much electricity as they consume, sourcing no non-renewable electricity. Net-zero buildings use renewable energy systems, efficient insulation, eco-conscious maintenance and sustainable designs to optimize their efficiency.
The Joyce Center for Partnership and Innovation (pictured above)
The Joyce Center for Partnership and Innovation is a net-zero university building in Canada. It is 96,000 square feet, making it the largest sustainable building in the country. Nearly 1,980 solar panels fuel the structure, generating 730,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity.
The center generates additional energy through a geothermal system to fuel the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Large, insulated windows allow for optimal sunlight exposure, reducing non-renewable light energy use. A central light well also allows natural light to flow throughout the structure.
As the sun sets, the building’s sensor-controlled system turns on LED lights. The building also uses a rainwater harvesting system, reducing water waste and ecologically harmful runoff. Underground cisterns collect 228,000 liters of stormwater for wastewater pumping and landscaping.
Engineers designed the Joyce Center to maximize HVAC energy use, creating an airtight seal. Airtight buildings conserve electricity and prevent pests from entering. It is essential to seal cracks and crevices to prevent small insects from entering and conditioner air from exiting. Unlike conventional buildings, net-zero structures are built for longevity, minimizing external destruction and maximizing energy efficiency.
The Pixel Building
The Pixel Building is a carbon-neutral office structure in Melbourne, Australia. Carbon-neutral buildings source their energy from eco-friendly sources, limiting their contribution to the atmosphere’s present amount of carbon dioxide. On the structure’s rooftop, three wind turbines and various solar panels generate electricity.
A gas-fired ammonia absorption chiller fuels the building’s air conditioning unit. It also contains a rainwater harvesting system, eliminating its reliance on the city water supply. The energy and water efficiency rates of the Pixel Building contributed to its perfect LEED score.
The LEED certification derives from a grading scale. If a building attains a perfect grade, it is water and energy-efficient. The grading scale evaluates the resources, indoor environmental quality, water source, location, energy source, design and strategy of a green building.
Another carbon-neutral building resides in south London. The BedZED is a mixed urban development containing 82 apartments and 2,500 square meters of office space. It utilizes renewable energy sources, an energy-efficient design, wind-driven ventilation and a green transportation system.
The apartments face south, optimizing sun exposure to conserve the HVAC system’s energy use. Solar panels provide the building with electricity and a rainwater harvesting system offers potable water. Although the BedZED and Pixel Building lack the net-zero title, we may still evaluate them for sustainable building inspiration.
If you are a home or business owner looking to increase the sustainability of your property, you may start by evaluating its water and energy efficiency. The three buildings discussed above have off-grid energy and water sources. Installing a renewable energy device or rainwater harvesting system could significantly increase the sustainability of your structure.
The most significant takeaway from the green building examples above is sustainability is possible. A single solar panel or rainwater collection system might have a minimal environmental impact, but a world of sustainable structures can conserve the planet. Whether or not you observe the ecological benefits of green technology, everyone can experience reduced utility costs and increased property value when improving the sustainability of a building.
Jane is the editor-in-chief of Environment.co where she covers green technology, sustainable building and environmental news.