13 Examples of Green Architecture

The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Environmental Center

The nickname for the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Environmental Center is the Grass Building, and it perfectly captures its spirit. It’s a structure so thoughtfully designed it’s almost as energy-efficient and low impact as the greenery that surrounds it.

The Maryland building is part of an educational farm on the Potomac River Watershed that the Alice Ferguson Foundation used to teach people about the natural world. This new building—which became the 13th in the world to receive full Living Building Challenge certification in June 2017—is an educational facility designed to blur the lines between indoors and out, while still providing shelter as needed. “Part of the intent of the building is to be in the landscape and still have a bathroom to use,” says Scott Kelly, principal-in-charge at Re:Vision, a Philadelphia-based architecture and design studio.

Further Reading:

Brock Environmental Center

Drawing thousands of students, the Brock Environmental Center is a regional hub for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, in Virginia Beach, Virginia, supporting its education and wetlands restoration initiatives. A connection to nature defines the building’s siting, which provides sweeping views of the marsh and also anticipates sea-level rise and storm surges with its raised design. Parts were sourced from salvage: Its maple floors once belonged to a local gymnasium while school bleachers, complete with graffiti, were used for interior wood trim. The center was recognized for its positive footprint: It has composting toilets, captures and treats rainfall for use as drinking water, and produces 80 percent more energy than it uses, selling the excess to the grid.

Further Reading:

Discovery Elementary School

Students have three distinct, age-appropriate playgrounds—with natural elements such as rocks and fallen trees—at Arlington, Virginia’s Discovery Elementary School. The name honors astronaut John Glenn, who returned to space on the Discovery shuttle and once lived in the neighborhood. Exploration is a theme at the school, whose interior focuses on forests, oceans, atmosphere, and the solar system. The largest zero-energy school in the country, it offers “hands-on learning around energy efficiency and generation,” jurors noted. The school maximizes natural light and provides views to the outside in all classrooms.

Further Reading:

Click to access 031%20-%20DiscoveryElementarySchool.pdf


Bristol Community College

A laboratory is an energy-intensive enterprise, with specialized lighting and ventilation needs. That’s why jurors praised the airy health and science building at Bristol Community College, in Fall River, Massachusetts, for its net-zero energy achievement, “a difficult feat,” they noted, “in a cold climate like New England’s.” The move saves $103,000 in annual operating costs and allows the college, which offers a suite of courses in sustainability and energy, to practice what it teaches. Part of a holistic campus redesign, the new building’s location increases the density—and thus walkability—of campus for students.

Further Reading:

Central Energy Facility

Orange and red pipes flaunt their role in “heat recovery” at Stanford University’s Central Energy Facility. The center for powering the California campus—more than a thousand buildings—the facility was transformed from an aging gas-fired plant to one fueled mostly by an off-site solar farm, fulfilling a goal of carbon neutrality and reducing energy use by a third. With large health care and research buildings, the campus needs as much heating as cooling; now a unique recovery system taps heat created in cooling processes to supply 93 percent of the heating and hot water required for campus buildings. The plant reduces Stanford emissions by 68 percent and potable water usage by 18 percent, potentially saving millions of dollars and one of the state’s scarce resources.

Further Reading:

Ng Teng Fong General Hospital

Like other buildings in Singapore, Ng Teng Fong General Hospital incorporates parks, green roofs, and vertical plantings throughout its campus. But the city-state’s hospitals haven’t traditionally offered direct access to fresh air, light, and outdoor views. This hospital marks a dramatic change, optimizing each for patients. About 70 percent of the facility is naturally ventilated and cooled by fans, cross-ventilation, and exterior shading, saving on precious water resources. The building uses 38 percent less energy than a typical hospital in the area.

Further Reading:

Eden Hall Farm, Chatham University

After receiving the donation of 388-acre Eden Hall Farm, 20 miles north, Pittsburgh’s Chatham University created a satellite campus centered around a sustainable living experiment. The university views the landscape—an agricultural area adjacent to an urban center—as critical to supporting cities of the future. The original buildings are complemented by new facilities for 250 residential students (and eventually 1,200), including a dormitory, greenhouse, dining commons, and classrooms. Students get hands-on experience in renewable energy systems—the campus generates more than it uses—sustainable agriculture and aquaculture, waste treatment, and water management. Now home to the Falk School of Sustainability, the farm is producing the next generation of environmental stewards, who follow in the footsteps of alum Rachel Carson.

Further Reading:

Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University

At George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, located in the nation’s capital, design embodies well-being. Built around an atrium that admits light and air, the structure encourages physical activity with a staircase that spans its eight levels. A green roof reduces storm runoff; rainwater is collected and stored for plumbing, resulting in a 41 percent reduction in toilet fixtures’ water use. Limestone panels (left) were salvaged from the previous building on the site. Materials used throughout the building contain recycled content.

Further Reading:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Inouye Regional Center

Located at the heart of Pearl Harbor, on Oahu’s Ford Island, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Inouye Regional Center repurposed two airplane hangars—which narrowly escaped destruction in the 1941 attack—linking them with a new steel and glass building (right). The research and office facility for 800 employees was raised to guard it from rising sea levels. Given the size of the hangars, daylight illuminated only a small fraction of the space, so specially crafted lanterns reflect sunlight further into their interiors. Necessity required invention: Due to anti-terrorism regulations, no operable windows were allowed in the space. Through a passive downdraft system that taps prevailing sea breezes, the building is completely naturally ventilated. The adjacent waterfront was returned to a more natural state with native vegetation.

Further Reading:

R.W. Kern Center

Serving as the gateway to Hampshire College, in Amherst, Massachusetts, the multipurpose R.W. Kern Center holds classrooms, offices, a café, and gallery space—and is the place where prospective students are introduced to campus. The school converted what was once an oval driveway into a wildflower meadow, now encouraging a pedestrian approach (seen above). The center is self-sustaining, generating its own energy through a rooftop solar array, harvesting its water from rainfall, and processing its own waste. Its gray water treatment system is in a pilot program for the state, and may pave the way for others.

Further Reading:

Manhattan 1/2/5 Garage & Salt Shed

Two buildings belonging to New York City’s sanitation department redefine municipal architecture. Resembling a grain of salt, the cubist form of the Spring Street Salt Shed holds 5,000 tons for clearing icy streets. The Manhattan 1/2/5 Garage (background), whose floors are color-coded for each of the three districts, is home to 150 vehicles, wash and repair facilities, and space for 250 workers. The garage is wrapped in 2,600 aluminum “fins,” shading devices that pivot with the sun’s rays, reducing heat gain and glare through the glazed walls while still allowing views to the outside. Municipal steam heats and cools the building, so no fuels are burned. A 1.5-acre green roof reduces heat-island effect and filters rainwater. A condensate by-product of the steam is also captured, and, along with the rainwater, used for toilets and the truck wash. Combined with low-flow fixtures, the process reduced water consumption by 77 percent.

Further Reading:

Starbucks Hillsboro, Oregon

Starbucks has been a leader in the development and implementation of a scalable green building program for over a decade .Starbucks joined the U.S. Green Building Council® (USGBC) in 2001 and collaborated with them to develop the LEED® for Retail program, an effort to adapt LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) to new construction and commercial interior strategies for retail businesses. In 2008,Starbucks challenged themselves to use LEED certification not just for flagship stores and larger buildings, but for all new, company-operated stores. Many people, even internally, were skeptical, especially with Starbucks growth across the globe. But by collaborating with USGBC and other like-minded organizations, we have been able to integrate green building design not only into new stores but also into our existing store portfolio. Starbucks has also succeeded in providing a practical certification option for retailers of all sizes.

Further Reading:

The Edge, Deloitte

The Edge, located in Amsterdam, is a model of sustainability.is billed as the world’s most sustainable office building and has the certification to prove it. But, it’s more than that. The place is, well, fun. And interesting. And inviting. So much so that professionals are actually applying for employment with Deloitte Netherlands because they want to work in the building. That it has become a recruiting tool is a satisfying side effect of a project designed to both redefine efficiency and change the way people work. “We wanted to ensure that our building not only had the right sustainability credentials, but was also a real innovative and inspiring place for our employees,” says Deloitte Netherlands CEO Peter Bommel.

“The opportunity to collaborate with a host of experts ensured that the finished building was sensitive to its surroundings and created a technologically productive and happy working environment.” The decision to erect public buildings is not considered casually in the Netherlands. “In Holland, there is a lot of empty office space,” explains Tim Sluiter, property manager, Information Technology (IT) & Workplace Services, Deloitte Netherlands. “But, old buildings are less energy efficient and the physical space usually doesn’t fit the office design of the future. We wanted to demonstrate a new building would be a model of sustainability.” Deloitte Netherlands approached OVG Real Estate, a Dutch commercial real estate developer and investor, to make its vision a reality. “In our experience, Deloitte Netherlands strives for the best and the building we developed for them reflects this,” says Coen van Oostrom, OVG’s founder and CEO.

“We brought together a team of experts and challenged them to identify innovations to make The Edge one of the most efficient commercial properties in the world.” The benchmark for efficiency The Edge produces more electricity than it consumes, an achievement made possible by an array of solar panels—some of which are placed on neighboring buildings—and below-ground thermal energy storage. Its Ethernet-powered LED lighting system is 80 percent more efficient than conventional illumination.

Rainwater is collected from the roof and balconies and used to flush the building’s toilets and water its gardens. Even the contours of the structure and its orientation to the sun play a role in its resourcefulness. Upon its completion in late 2014, The Edge was awarded the highest BREEAM accreditation score ever for an office building—98.36 percent—by the Building Research Establishment (BRE), the global assessor of sustainable buildings. The innovative, connected lighting panels do more than sip minute amounts of voltage; they contain about 28,000 sensors that detect motion, light, temperature, humidity, and even carbon dioxide levels.

It’s these sensors, providing real-time data, which make The Edge possibly the smartest and most occupant-friendly office space in use today. The sensors allow facility managers to assess how and when certain parts of the building are being used. “In our building, IT and facilities management are a combined function,” Sluiter explains. In the short term, collected information can be used to determine where cleaning is and is not necessary on a given evening. Long term, emerging patterns showing light use of certain locales on certain days can lead to rooms or even entire floors being closed off to save energy. Connected and customized Sensors also make The Edge an interesting and enjoyable place to work. For example, software updates to a smartphone app, developed by Deloitte Netherlands, will soon make it possible for coffee machines to recognize individuals when they approach and dispense the blends and add-ins they desire.

The app already assigns daily workspaces that best fit users’ preferences, and allows them to control the brightness of the lighting above their work surfaces and adjust the climate of their particular areas. It can direct people throughout the building, reading a meeting location from one’s online calendar, for example, and suggesting the route to get there. Employees can even use the app to track their progress in the on-site gym—where some of the fitness equipment actually feeds generated wattage into the building’s power grid. The building is close to public transportation, a high-speed rail link, and a cycle route network. More than 500 bicycle parking spaces encourage tenants to pedal their way to work. Those who must drive arrive at a high-tech garage that identifies their vehicles, points them to available parking spots, and uses sensor-equipped LED lights that brighten and dim as drivers arrive and leave.

Sluiter stresses that personal data cannot be accessed by managers or anyone else. Privacy laws ensure nobody can track a person’s whereabouts, monitor how many meetings they’ve missed, or see what times they’re using the garage. “This building offers the technology to do certain things that would make tenants’ lives even easier, and most of them would gladly accept the functionality,” he says. “But, at the same time, it’s extremely important to protect people’s privacy and conform to the law.” Those minimal barriers certainly aren’t hindering The Edge’s reputation. “Our aim was to make The Edge the best place to work,” says Erik Ubels, director of IT & Workplace Services, Deloitte Netherlands. “Our meeting areas are filling up because every client and employee wants to experience this building. It’s not too small yet, but the economy is growing and the building is getting crowded. It’s possible we made it too popular.”

Sustainability gains across the network The Edge is unquestionably the “greenest” of the DTTL and Deloitte member firm offices around the world, but other Deloitte spaces have received either BREEAM or LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) certifications. The Deloitte University facility in the US is LEED certified, as is office space occupied by DTTL and the US member firm at 30 Rockefeller Center in New York. Many other member firm office spaces in the US and abroad, including Hong Kong, Istanbul, and Sao Paulo, are LEED certified. The Zurich office has earned a LEED Platinum award, and several Deloitte UK office spaces have received BREEAM certification.

Travel and the office needs of a global network of businesses are the primary drivers of Deloitte’s overall environmental impact. The environmental impacts of transportation, particularly air travel, are a complex challenge that will need to be met with global collaboration and welcomed dialogue. While Deloitte’s absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions increased 2 percent from FY2014, Deloitte’s headcount also grew by 7 percent. Therefore, GHG emissions intensity per full time equivalent (metric tons CO2e/FTE) dropped by 6 percent. Similarly, GHG emissions intensity by revenue (kg CO2e/thousand US$ of revenue) decreased 1 percent from last year. “Another one of our goals is to reduce the amount of virgin paper resources we consume,” says David Pearson, Deloitte Global Chief Sustainability Officer.

“In FY2015, Deloitte did that by reducing the paper we used by 11 percent and by selecting more recycled-content paper, which increased the percentage of recycled-input materials used by more than 30 percent from FY2014.” Over the last five years, Deloitte’s headcount has increased globally by 24 percent. During the same period, our environmental efficiency measures have improved as indicated by a 14 percent decrease in GHG emissions intensity per FTE, a 22 percent decrease in emissions per dollar of revenue, and a 25 percent decrease in overall paper usage. “We hope to build on this momentum,” Pearson says.

Further Reading:

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2 Comments on “13 Examples of Green Architecture”

  1. […] 13 Examples of Green Architecture […]


  2. […] consider W.E.L.L. as well.  LEED/Sustainability concepts Resource 1 ; Resource 2 also check out the following link for ides about other program types for the redevelopment […]


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