Decarbonization of the building sector is no longer a choice but a necessity. As nations strive to curb their greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, it is increasingly clear that current building standards do not go far enough to drive tangible change. Achieving climate goals requires economies to advocate measures that drive carbon neutrality while managing associated costs effectively. How would net-zero performance strategies impact building costs?
Green Building: The Latest Architecture and News
By the time I was 17 years old, I had moved 11 times. Because of my own experience relocating from one place to another, I’ve spent the better part of the last several decades focused on making sure that everyone has a place to call home, that everyone enjoys the human right to housing. But it was not until my time at Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit focused on community development and affordable housing, that I realized the methods and materials we employ to realize that human right matter.
The window for solving climate change is narrowing; any solution must include embodied carbon. The Sixth Assessment Report published by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) concludes that the world can emit just 500 gigatonnes more of carbon dioxide, starting in January 2020, if we want a 50 percent chance of staying below 1.5 degrees. In 2021 alone, the world emitted about 36.3 gigatonnes of carbon, the highest amount ever recorded. We’re on track to blow through our carbon budget in the next several years. To quote the IPCC directly: “The choices and actions implemented in this decade will have impacts now and for thousands of years (high confidence).”
In 2018, Archi-Tectonics NYC and !Melk were announced as the winners of a competition to develop a masterplan transformation for the Hangzhou Asian Games Park 2022. Spanning 116 Acres, the now-completed project includes an expansive Eco Park and seven buildings. Although its initial purpose was to serve as a venue for the Hangzhou Asian Games 2022, the team extended its vision far beyond this event, charting a new path for the city’s environmental future.
Zaha Hadid Architects has revealed the design of the Daxia Tower, to be built in the High-Tech Economic and Technological Development Zone of Xi’an, one of China’s largest inland cities with a population nearing nine million people. The tower will mark the center of Xi’an’s business district and will include offices, retail, and ancillary facilities, all designed with data analytics and behavior modeling to ensure a balanced disposition of spaces.
Environmental issues urgency and increasing temperatures on the planet are nothing new. There are many factors contributing to environmental degradation. However, two can be viewed as representative of critical points in the current world system: plastic and waste disposal, better known as garbage.
The environmental crisis cannot be attributed solely to these two examples. They are used here as examples to mobilize issues involving multiple agents, materials, and diverse methods. These issues lead to devastating consequences, increasingly irreversible.
Rising over global cities, the modern skyscraper has long been a symbol of economic growth and environmental decline. For years, they have been reviled by environmentalists for being uncontrolled energy consumers. Malaysian architect Kenneth Yeang acknowledged the skyscraper as a necessity in modern cities and adopted a pragmatic approach to greening the otherwise unsustainable building typology. Yeang’s bioclimatic skyscrapers blend the economics of space with sustainability and improved living standards.
Stefano Boeri Architetti presented a new design for the Vertical Forest towers during COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The prototype would be in Dubai, the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the next host of COP28 in 2023. The ambitious project would represent the first Vertical Forest prototype for the MENA (Middle East and North Africa), and it is the latest in an extended list of greenery-covered buildings by Boeri Architetti, including the Bosco Verticale in Milan, the Easyhome Huanggang in China, and a prototype of the First Dutch Vertical Forest.
Construction practices across the world, as well as the types and uses of building materials, have been identified as key factors that impact global warming. Studies have shown that the building sector will play a central role in achieving the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) CO2 emissions reduction targets for 2030 and net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.
The construction sector's support for the achievement of these targets must focus on sustainable construction, which entails environmentally-friendly structures that consume less energy and have smaller or even net zero carbon footprints.
Green buildings are structures that, in their design, construction or operation, reduce or eliminate negative impacts on our climate and natural environment. They preserve precious natural resources and improve quality of life.
Incorporating the Environmental, social, and corporate governance objectives, the 45,000 m2 Office Tower in the Europaviertel in Frankfurt aims to be one of Germany's most sustainable office buildings. Designed by UNStudio in partnership with Groß & Partner in collaboration with OKRA landscape architects, the project focuses on environmental and social sustainability as an integral part of Frankfurt's green network. The ecological agenda includes a low-carbon load-bearing structure and recyclable construction materials. The architecture program offers a public urban space to add value to its surroundings to encourage communication and gathering.
"Indigenous technologies are not lost or forgotten, only hidden by the shadow of progress in the most remote places on Earth". In her book Lo-TEK: design by radical indigenism, Julia Watson proposes to revalue the techniques of construction, production, cultivation and extraction carried out by diverse remote populations who, generation after generation, have managed to keep alive ancestral cultural practices integrated with nature, with a low environmental cost and simple execution. While modern societies tried to conquer nature in the name of progress, these indigenous cultures worked in collaboration with nature, understanding ecosystems and species cycles to articulate their architecture into an integrated and symbiotically interconnected whole.
At first glance, Dorte Mandrup's design for the Wadden Sea Center seems to mimic the landscape. Its low height, its horizontal lines and, above all, its materiality make it a modern building in perfect harmony with the local nature. But its connection also encompasses the built heritage of the region, more specifically because of its covering with straw, harvested and dried close to the land. This is an extremely traditional and historic building technique, but which is rarely attributed to contemporary buildings. In this article we will rescue some of the history of this natural material, its constructive characteristics and some examples of use.
This article was originally published on Common Edge.
On a recent day in Santa Monica, California, visitors sat in the shaded courtyard outside City Hall East waiting for appointments. One of them ate a slice of the orange she’d picked from the tree above her and contemplated the paintings, photographs, and assemblages on the other side of the glass. The exhibit, Lives that Bind, featured local artists’ expressions of erasure and underrepresentation in Santa Monica’s past. It’s part of an effort by the city government to use the new soon-to-be certified Living Building (designed by Frederick Fisher and Partners) as a catalyst for building a community that is environmentally, socially, and economically self-sustaining.
Researchers credit the Hanging Gardens of Babylon as the first examples of green roofs. Although there is no proof of its exact location and very little literature on the structure, the most accepted theory is that King Nebuchadnezzar II built a series of elevated, ascending terraces with varied species as a gift to his wife, who missed the forests and mountains of Persia, their local land. According to Wolf Schneider  the gardens were supported by brick vaults, and under them, there were shaded halls cooled by artificial irrigation of the gardens, with a much milder temperature than the outside, in the plains of Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq). Since then, examples of green roofs have appeared all over the world, from Rome to Scandinavia, in the most diverse climates and types.
Nevertheless, inserting plants on roofs is still viewed with suspicion by many, as they are thought to be costly and difficult to maintain. Others, however, argue that the high implementation costs are quickly offset with savings in air conditioning and especially that occupying the building's fifth façade with vegetation is, above all, a rational solution. In any case, the question remains as to how green roofs can really help with climate change.
After winning an international competition at the end of 2019, UNStudio has designed the new office of international software development company JetBrains in Saint Petersburg, promoting interaction and sustainability through its architecture, and focusing on the project's three keywords: Connective, Comfortable, and Versatile. UNStudio further developed the design in 2020 and construction is expected to start later this year.