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By Victor T. Barrera on May 12, 2009 with 14 responses

Ten of the Greenest Skyscrapers in the World

Breathtaking design and practical, clean technology are merged to give us the greenest skyscrapers the world has seen.

Clean technology and green design have both resulted in numerous innovations that continue to push the boundaries of energy generation and efficient resource consumption. Today, urbanization and the increasingly dense populations of the world’s largest cities are pushing architects to reach for new heights in green skyscraper design.

Because of the enormous energy needs of the traditional skyscraper, designing modern skyscrapers to be a little cleaner and more environmentally friendly is a big deal. McKinsey and Co., a global management consulting firm, estimates that China alone will be building upwards of 50,000 skyscrapers within the next two decades.

Today’s architects and builders are charged with the task of setting trends that will emphasise ecologically imaginative aspects for the skyscrapers of today and beyond; modern “eco-scrapers” are no doubt bridging the gap between breathtaking building design and clean technological ingenuity.  Here are ten modern and green skyscrapers that are changing the landscape and pushing the envelope on behalf of the modern “eco-scraper”.

1. Dynamic Tower (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)


This rotating tower designed by architect Dr. David Fischer on behalf of Dynamic Architecture presents fearless design elements with renewable energy concepts that are sure to impress even the most eco-friendly structure builders.  When finished, the structure will stand at nearly 420 meters tall and feature 80 rotating floors, 79 horizontal wind turbines (one between each floor), and photovoltaics on the rooftop.

Dynamic Architecture claims that only a fraction of the wind turbines will be needed to sustain 100% of the energy needs of the tower itself, and that the rest of the turbines would be able to produce enough energy to power nearby skyscrapers of a similar size.  This structure’s concept is described by designers as “the world’s first skyscraper in motion”; the revolving floors and wind turbines means the shape of the building will constantly be changing.

The Dynamic Tower is scheduled to break ground soon, and is supposed to be finished by the end of 2010. This project marks the first time a skyscraper will be built in stages utilizing pre-fabricated sections.  With over 4,000 hours of wind annually in Dubai, wind enthusiasts are exited about what this tower really means for green architecture.

2. World Trade Center Towers (Manama, Bahrain)


The World Trade Center Towers in Bahrain are an exquisite architectural and technological wonder designed by South African architect Shaun Killa.  Featuring three behemoth 96-foot wide wind turbine blades between the towers, over 1100 megawatts of electricity will be generated per year for the structure.

The triangular design of the towers themselves is suppose to optimize the airflow between the towers, thus really giving the turbines an opportunity to generate the most power.  This skyscraper was the first one built with wind turbines integrated into the design of the building itself.

3. The Pearl River Tower (Guangzhou, China)


Designed by American architect Gordon Gill, this nearly 1000-foot tall structure is designed with a few zealous environmental goals in mind.  Not only is the structure planned to be the world’s first “zero-energy skyscraper”, but it’s also slated to generate excess electricity that it would then insert back into local power grids.

The Pearl River Tower will have internal tunnels built into two of the building’s 71 stories.  The structure itself is going to be shaped like one giant wing that will serve to funnel wind into the tunnels.  Along with utilizing wind power, the tower will also integrate radiant slabs, geothermal heat-sinks, vented facades and integrated photovoltaics.

4. Bank of America Tower (New York City, US)


The Bank of America Tower in New York City was designed by Cook + Fox Architects; they really set the tone for future skyscrapers that will be built in the US.  This is also one of the first skyscrapers that was built using largely recycled and recyclable material as well as being LEED Platinum certified.

Natural gas fuel cells will generate on-site electricity as well as supplement the 4.6 megawatt cogeneration plant that will mitigate a lot of the base-load energy concerns for the skyscraper.  A sophisticated rain water capture system is also in place, as well as windows that maximize sunlight along with smart and efficient LED lighting.

5. Okhta Tower (St. Petersburg, Russia)


Designed by UK architecture firm, RMJM, the Okhta Tower is slated to become the new headquarters of Gazprom, the monolithic Russian Gas Company.  Situated right nearby the River Neva in St. Petersburg, the structure will emphasise new levels of ecological design.

The double layered outer shell of the needle-like tower is designed in such a way so as to maximize the amount of sunlight that penetrates the interior of the building, and it helps ensure that most of the heat energy stays within the structure during the harsh and cold winters.

6. 340 on the Park (Chicago, US)


Chicago’s 340 on the Park was designed by Solomon Cordwell Buenz  and is the first residential tower in Mid-western America to attain the silver LEED certification.  Featuring high tech insulation and rainwater capture systems, this structure really sets the environmental benchmark for residential skyscrapers in the US.

340 on the Park was designed with the energy consuming human in mind, and thus integrates only the most efficient of technologies within the living and common spaces; there’s even a two story winter garden starting on the 25th floor that makes great use of the special windows designed for optimal sunlight dispersion throughout the building.

7. The Lighthouse Tower (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)


The Dubai International Financial Center plans on inhabiting this skyscraper dubbed “The Lighthouse Tower”.  Designed by Atkins Middle East, the 66-story tower boasts a proposed amount of 4000 solar panels that will be integrated into the south facing facade, as well as three huge 225 kilowatt wind turbines.

It’s estimated that the tower design along with integrated technologies will knock off 65% of the overall energy needs.  Developers in Dubai are touting this strucutre as just one of many planned “eco-scrapers” that will bring carbon emissions to new lows in terms of the building’s overall impact to the local environmental landscape.

8. CIS Tower (Manchester, England)


The Co-operative Insurance Solar Tower in Manchester, England set a new benchmark by retroactively installing renewable energy technology onto the service tower during a renovation in 2006.  Boasting over 7000 solar panels and 24 wind turbines, the CIS tower no doubt represents a stunning achievement in what be accomplished when you combine skyscrapers and clean technology.

Currently, the structure can generate more than 10% of the energy it needs, but it’s still a technological marvel that serves as a great example of integrating renewable energy technologies into pre-existent architectural design.

9. The Hearst Tower (New York City, US)


The Hearst Tower was New York’s first skyscraper to receive the gold LEED certification.  Nearly 80% of the steel used to create this structure was recycled, as well as much of the interior’s flooring and ceiling materials.  The diamond-like shape of the steel support beams allow for less material to be needed in order to achieve the same level of structural integrity; the unique shaping of the structure also ensures copious amounts of sunlight are being taken advantage of.

The Hearst tower also makes excellent use of rainwater; there’s a 14,000 gallon tank in the basement of the building that serves as a starting point that enables the tower to shave off 50% of its water needs by treating and redirecting resources to irrigate plants and provide for a nifty water sculpture at the entrance of the building.

10. Gwanggyo (Seoul, South Korea)


Probably one of the most unique designs to ever see the drawing board, a Dutch architectural design firm named MVRDV won a bid to design a “self sufficient city” called Gwanggyo that would be established 35 kilometers south of Seoul, Korea.  The buildings will resemble tall hill-like structures that emphasizes the maintenance of a more “organic landscape” that integrates itself seamlessly into its surroundings.

Built with population density in mind, this “eco-city” could house over 77,000 people and provide enough commercial and public space to satisfy all the needs of the community.  At the heart of the site would be a power plant that utilizes the most sophisticated of technologies for clean power generation and streamlined resource consumption.  Currently, this project stands to completed by the end of 2011.

  1. By Alistair on May 15, 2009 at 8:29 am

    Ignoring the obvious nonsense of making a ‘green’ skyscraper

    in the bahrain trade centre ’1100 megawatts of electricity will be generated per year’
    should be Megawatt Hours,

  2. By visualmerc on May 17, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    as a new yorker it’s great to see 2 out of the 10 in my hometown. i pass by the hearst and bofa towers frequently and they are truly beautiful structures. with most of the buildings in the post being ‘proposed’, i would definitely have moved those two up in rank as they are already up and running.

  3. By tivo premiere on March 5, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    these are all fascinating

  4. By Ms H J Beaumont on May 23, 2012 at 5:33 am

    Surprised that the ‘Burj Khalifa’ is not in this list [can not be very 'green' ]- what a shame!

    You would think that any buildings of this nature would be built with the same ethos these days!

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