Sustainability is now an architectural requirement as much as aesthetics or security. From recycled materials right up to the dizzy heights of energy positive buildings, architects are developing solutions to reduce pressure on the planet. We’ve selected five of the world’s most impressive buildings using clean energy on a massive scale, with impressive results. 

Soaring solar power in China: Micro Emission Sun-Moon Mansion, Dezhou, China

The Sun-Moon Mission is one of the world’s largest solar-powered structures. The building has 50,000 square feet of solar panelling set into a design resembling a sun-dial. With the use of energy-saving glass, the building’s energy needs are all powered by solar energy: offices, a conference centre and a hotel over 75,000 m².

Solar power in China

Homegrown energy in the UK: One Angel Square, Manchester, UK

The Co-operative Group owns farmland in the UK so it can use its own grapeseed oil to power the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system in its impressive HQ building. The system also produces excess energy to send to the grid. The building houses 3,000 employees and has been awarded an "Outstanding" Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology (BREEAM) rating.

Turbines on the Tower: Shanghai Tower, Shanghai, China

Being the second-tallest building on Earth at 632 metres tall, the Shanghai Tower takes excellent advantage of its position. Wind turbines on the top provide power for significant sections of the building, closely monitored by smart controls. An additional feature – transparent inner and outer ‘skins’ – make the most of natural light reducing costs further.

First high-rise to go platinum: One Bryant Park, New York City, US

Bryant Park is seen as one of the world’s greenest skyscrapers – the first with LEED Platinum certification and includes the first ‘green’ Broadway theatre.  As with the other sustainable giants, it produces clean, sustainable energy from its own generation plant. For a comfortable working environment, the building has a thermal ice storage system. This produces ice at night, which is then melted during the day to provide cooling. The building also has LED lighting, CO2 monitors and waterless urinals.

Monitoring and Control: Deloitte’s Amsterdam Headquarters

This innovative building , known as ‘The Edge’ again uses clean energy – this time from 30 metres below the Earth which ‘allows the building to store heat in the summer to be used in the winter’. Further solar panels have been installed in cooperation with its neighbour – The University of Amsterdam.  For heating and cooling, the design also uses an aquifer thermal energy storage system. This uses two wells – one to provide heating during the cool periods and another to provide cooling during warm periods. Control is also very important to minimise energy consumption. The Edge has a massive network of 30,000 sensors. Measuring every aspect of lighting, humidity and CO2, they prompt systems, via a range of apps, to open or close particular areas to minimise energy usage.

Deloitte’s Amsterdam Headquarters

Clean energy delivering cost reduction and improved working environment

Our choice of five sustainable giants are all working with commercial-scale clean energy use coupled with the best of engineering innovation; the inspiring, and often energy positive, buildings of the future. Energy monitoring and control, material development and recycling techniques all come together to maximise the different energy production and conservation techniques.

And green technology doesn’t just provide efficient, energy-saving buildings. Residents and employees all benefit from these much healthier and more comfortable working environments.

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