Thursday, February 23, 2017

Beacons of Sustainable Architecture

This post focuses on a still developing building-type that has some sustainability and quality-of-life features which deserve to be more widely known. Maybe green lighthouses are a widely known building-type or maybe the reader was like me and thought literally "green lighthouse" when they first heard the term. Digging into the subject these are really interesting buildings and might represent a good design option for some projects. The examples I've collected here are from Nanjing, China and the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and we're going to explore all sorts of connections between them to describe the type. Digital design and prefabrication techniques allows modern architecture to be very adventurous in experimenting with form, however, some projects will be looking for options which optimize modularity through simplifying form. Adapting the cylindrical shape to sustainable architecture drives a lot of the buildings' high-performance features, two of them being the amount and quality of the sunlight, and zero-carbon footprint.

University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Making some assumptions about the reader's familiarity with the characteristics of interior sunlight and how to control it, these buildings exemplify what is possible with careful solar modelling. I'm picky as sin when it comes to the quality of interior natural light and draw upon its connection to the productivity of employees and the comfort and health of staff to encourage its use. Materials on the development of the buildings make clear modelling the behaviour of natural sunlight inside over the day and year was key to optimizing the equal distribution of quality sunlight inside. Dynamic shading is utilized on the Nanjing example which contributes to the sustainability features of the building. Secondly, each building is carbon neutral which is a goal I try to champion because I feel an obligation on the behalf of the architecture profession to contribute to solutions of climate change.

There were too many other sustainability features to mention all of them which signals the maturing field of the sustainable design. Some of the credit for the abundance of efficiency features included in each project represents our last connection between the two. COWI Engineering, headquartered in Denmark, had a consulting role in each. I really liked their approach to sustainable architecture and infrastructure design and this is totally something we should all be supporting as we at the same time raise our expectations of how the AEC industry should contribute to lowering a building's carbon footprint and increasing its energy efficiency.

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