From wind turbines and CO2 monitors to foam flushing toilets and treadmill desks, sustainable office buildings around the world are raising the bar for innovation.
Three years ago, Angela Loder, then an adjunct professor at the University of Denver and a researcher in health, buildings and urban nature, highlighted three key elements in the field of sustainable buildings:
- Materials and ventilation
- Proximity to nature
It comes as no surprise, then, that the green contenders on this list have all mastered at least one, usually all three of the above.
The Edge, Amsterdam
Until recently, The Edge was billed as the most sustainable office building in the world (Bloomberg's new European HQ in London recently stole the show in October 2017!) Designed by PLP Architecture. The sophisticated design, coupled with the use of innovative technologies resulted in an astonishing 98.36% BREEAM score. Home to Deloitte's headquarters, the building harvests rainwater to flush toilets and water its gardens. It also gives staff full control over temperature and light, both regulable via a smartphone app. The building produces its own energy through the use of 800 solar panels and its roof boasts a floor-to-floor scanner that detects when rooms are not being used, thus helping reduce electricity consumption.
Manitoba Hydro Place, Winnipeg, Canada
Located in Winnipeg, Manitoba Hydro Place uses passive design and natural ventilation to cement its place as one of North America's most energy-efficient office buildings.
The building uses a geothermal system to heat and cool the interiors, triple-glazed windows to maximise daylight and reduce the need for artificial lighting, and exposed radiant ceiling slabs that help maintain the temperature at a comfortable 20 degrees Celcius all year round. By applying these techniques, the building achieved 65% greater energy efficiency.
The Sun-Moon Mansion, Dezhou, China
Shaped like a sundial, the Sun-Moon Mansion houses the headquarters of the world’s largest manufacturer of solar thermal water heaters - Himin Group. With over 15,000 square meters of solar panels, the 750,000m2 building is one of the world's largest solar-powered offices.
Bank Of America, New York City
The first high rise building to get LEED Platinum certification, the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park in Manhattan, is one of the most sustainable skyscrapers in the world. Complete with CO2 monitors, dry urinals and LED lighting, the building also produces 4.6 megawatts of sustainable energy in its own power station.
The Shanghai Tower
With its 200 wind turbines, rainwater collection and reuse system, plant-filled sky lobbies and double-skinned glass facade that allows for natural ventilation, the 121-storey Shanghai Tower achieved LEED Platinum certification in 2015.
Autodesk's Spear Tower, San Francisco
The 3D design software company's 21,000 square metre office in San Francisco holds a LEED platinum rating, with particular emphasis on sustainable sites, water efficiency and innovation.
With its reclaimed wood ceiling, living wall and treadmill desks in an effort to keep staff active, Autodesk's minimalist office space puts an emphasis on functionality.
All work and no play shines through as the motto of Manchester-based BrightHR, where staff can benefit from office space hoppers, scooters, game consoles and ping-pong tables. The office also prides itself on a double bed for power naps and an 18-metre lawn with football nets located at the heart of the office.
Pearl River Tower, Guangzhou, China
Completed in 2012 and designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill, the Pearl River Tower utilises cutting-edge technology including a radiant ceiling cooling system, solar panels, double-glazing curtain wall, demand-based ventilation air,
and daylight responsive controls to claim a spot among some of the world's greenest buildings. The tower's design also helps draw wind to giant turbines that, in turn, generate clean energy.
Co-operative Group HQs, Manchester
Just like the Shanghai Tower, the 15-storey building at One Angel Square boasts a double-layered glass facade and an open atrium designed to facilitate natural ventilation and lighting. Rated 'outstanding' by UK certification body BREEAM, it is powered by a plant oil fed system that uses rapeseed oil grown in The Co-operative's own farm.
Medibank Place, Melbourne
The design of Medibank Place was highly influenced by a thorough research on workplace design, the results of which led to a dynamic office building which promotes wellbeing working with sit-to-stand workstations. With almost 5,000 plants outside and in, 520 modular planter boxes adorning the facade, a landscaped roof garden and a 25-meter living wall, nature plays a key role in Medibank's sustainable image.