Sustainable development typically looks at the “triple bottom line” of economic, ecological and social factors and has become the Zeitgeist of the industry. In the context of the built environment, innovative and contextual impacts must also be factored into any calculation of sustainability. With such broad elements to be considered, it’s no wonder that exemplary projects in sustainable construction are rarely the work of one single person or profession, but combine the expertise of several fields: architecture, engineering, research, biology and sociology. To bring the concept of broad sustainability for the building industry to life, the 3rd International Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction identify and recognize the cutting-edge of sustainability – propelling more widespread and consequential adoption of approaches to build a more sustainable future. The Holcim Awards competition also includes a category for the “Next Generation” of university students to share their concepts for the sustainable projects of the future.
A visionary and interdisciplinary project – and previous Holcim Awards winner: the new Monte Rosa hut in the Swiss Alps (picture above) demonstrates of state of the art technology. It is noteworthy that all the façade and load-bearing elements as well as the interior partition walls are the results of computer-aided design and manufacturing in a way that material consumption and transport weight are minimized. The Monte Rosa hut relies on its own energy production, water collection, and systems for treating solid waste and waste water. It is open to hikers who brave the trek across the glacier for a truly breathtaking alpine experience.
The Huasco region in northern Chile is an agricultural region on the fringe of the desert that depends upon water for irrigation from the Huasco River. Water is becoming increasingly scarce and new solutions have to be found. The concept that won a “Next Generation” prize in the Holcim Awards harvests fog originating in the Pacific Ocean and drifting behind the coastline to provide reliable water supply. The idea consists of towers with a height of 200m catching the water particles and conducting them to the base using gravity where the liquid will be filtered through a reverse osmosis process to eliminate salt. Currently further research and refinement on the concept is continuing based on a 15m high prototype – with promising results. The 3rd International Holcim Awards competition offering a total of USD 2 million in prize money is currently open for entries. The competition is an initiative of the Swiss-based Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction and seeks exemplary sustainable building and civil engineering works; landscape, urban design and infrastructure projects; and materials, products and construction technologies. Construction may not have started before July 1, 2010. Entries must be submitted by March 23, 2011: www.holcimawards.org