From: Copenhagen School of Design and Technology
Published January 4, 2016 03:12 PM

Green skyscrapers

PRESS RELEASE:  Green Skyscrapers

1. Introduction 

Our planet is showing many signs of worldwide climate change. Increases in temperature, dwindling natural resources and environmental pollution serve as warning signs that radical changes are necessary in order to preserve the environment.

In the search for specialization during my course of studies I realized that the construction industry has an enormous impact on the environment. Skyscrapers in particular require large amounts of natural resources for construction. Afterwards, a vast amount of energy is required for lightning, heating and cooling systems, and everyday tenant use. If the design, construction and management are conducted in a thoughtful, sustainable manner, it can have a very positive effect on decelerating environmental degradation. And we designers, constructing architects, engineers can contribute significantly to that positive transformation.

I first came across this notion while watching a documentary of the property One Bryant Park, located in New York City. It is a green skyscraper situated in the center of Manhattan that has achieved Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum Certification, the highest rank in the green certification of buildings. I came to understand that many environment friendly solutions can be incorporated into the design of the building, and how greatly it can contribute to preserving the environment. I truly believe that people in the construction industry can change the course of history with development of green skyscrapers. I want to be a part of that change and play an active role in that field in my future career.

These considerations were my motivation to search for an internship placement in Manhattan specifically, in a company that operates green buildings. I obtained the practical placement in Silverstein Properties Incorporation (SPI), which is currently developing the biggest sustainable building complex in the USA; located at Ground Zero. The internship gave me not only a practical experience but also a great wealth of information for my thesis regarding green skyscrapers. While working in a green building, situated adjacent to a green construction site, I learned about the incorporation of sustainable features into the design of buildings and the issues concerning the execution of sustainable principles while operating such buildings.

In my dissertation I will give a detailed description of the concept of green skyscrapers. I will introduce fine examples of green projects around the world. Furthermore, I will explain the certification system for green buildings, design principles, and show the economical and environmental benefits of building green. I will also focus on the challenges connected with the green initiatives faced by the legislation and real estate business. Lastly, I will describe the prospect course of development in the field of green architecture.

In order to get tangible effects and help the ailing environment, the application of holistic approach is vital. It is not only crucial to design and construct in a sustainable manner, it is necessary to apply green principles in operations of the buildings and in our every day habits. Only such a complete approach can effectively contribute to the mitigation of environmental damage our planet currently faces. We have come to the point where we have reached the limit of environmental exploitation. We have used the credit given by nature to its fullest. Change of the paradigm of thought is necessary, no matter what challenges we are going to face on the way. The time has come for us to give back all we have taken for granted during the centuries of civilization exploitation. Citing Barack Obama words from victory speech: “the time for change has come”, I would like to address all who care for better future. I hope my dissertation will give solid grounds to why it is so vital and why construction and effective operation of green skyscrapers is the way to create a better and sustainable future.

Figure 1. Green skyscrapers 1
2.Definition of green skyscrapers and the history of the term 
The expression Green Skyscrapers can be derived from the term of green design, a skyscraper and a green skyscraper.
2.1. Definition of green designWhat is green design? According to Yeang “green or ecological design here means building with minimal environmental impact, and, where possible, building to achieve the opposite effect; this means creating buildings with positive, reparative and productive consequences for the natural environment, while at the same time integrating the built structure with all aspects of the biosphere over its entire cycle.”[2] As for historical facts green architecture came into the international scene in the 1970s in response to environmental degradation. The first green designs concerned single family houses. In the recent years, however, green architects have focused their work on skyscrapers, apartment buildings, convention centers, shopping complexes and other large scale buildings.[3]
2.2. Definition of skyscrapers 
In literature the definition varies however. According to Yeang the term skyscraper is a large high-rise building type, generally over 10 stories, of commercial, residential, hotel or mixed use.[4]
A skyscraper is also defined as ‘a multi-storey building generally constructed using a structural frame, provided with high-speed elevators and combining extraordinary height with ordinary room spaces such as would be found in low buildings.’[5] In a skyscraper more usable floor area can be fit into relatively small plot, where more people, rents and goods can be put in one place. It can be seen as a wealth creating mechanism functioning in an urban economy.[6]
Some say there is no official definition or height that defines the term and it can be even a building of 80 m height (262 feet) that protrudes above the built surroundings and changes the skyline around. The term skyscraper was originally used to refer to the sail on a sailing ship. It was first applied to buildings in the late 19th century as an expression of amazement over tall buildings built in Chicago and New York City.[7] Historically, tall buildings symbolized religious or imperial power.[8]
Nowadays, we have four distinct features of a skyscraper. First characteristic is a small site footprint in relation to its total built-up space. Second, a skyscraper has a tall façade determined by its height. Next feature is that it has a small roof area in comparison to its external wall area. Lastly, it has special engineering systems different from the low-building type due to its height.[9]
2.3. Definition of green skyscrapers 
Lastly, there is the definition of green skyscrapers. Green skyscrapers are high-rise buildings designed with a minimal impact on the environment. They conserve energy and water, pr

ovide better indoor climate for people working or residing in them and release less pollution outside than traditional skyscrapers. These are skyscrapers that use the latest technology to serve people’s needs with minimal possible impact on the planet. In a green design environmental attributes are treated as objectives rather than constraints. The success of such a design depends on the creativeness of a designer and the inventiveness of solutions generated to address the limitations that are on the site and in the design itself. [10]
In literature there are more terms that are used in close connotation with green skyscrapers. For example a bioclimatic skyscraper is the term that can have a closely related meaning to ‘green skyscraper’. Bioclimatic skyscrapers are high-rise buildings that are designed to take advantage of the meteorological data of the location.[11]These are buildings that make use of the
energies of the local climate to create comfortable conditions for the users of the building, which makes them passive, low-energy constructions.[12]
Also the term of an ecological skyscraper appears in literature. An ecological skyscraper is a more advanced form of a bioclimatic skyscraper. Ecological skyscrapers are designed according to Ecodesign principles. Ecodesign is based on bio-integration, where systems need to imitate nature’s processes, structure and functions as in an ecosystem. For example, there is no waste in a biological ecosystem as everything is recycled within. In ecological design building systems should follow the same principle.[13]In ecological design “no part of the biosphere is unaffected by human activity and all actions affect each one 
another.[…]all built systems must have a reciprocal relationship with their local environments and with the rest of the biosphere.”[14]

2.4. History of green design 

The idea of green design dates back to more than a century ago. In the late nineteenth century architects utilized passive techniques to allow more light enter buildings and to better ventilate the interiors of high-rise buildings. For example, the summer heat was tempered by placing the windows deep inside the building. This was the case with the first New York Times Building (Eidlitz & McKenzie, 1905). Crystal Palace (1851) was designed with a very ingenious ventilation system called labyrinth, where air was pulled into underground rooms and then it was cooled down by the earth and returned through vents in the floors. As for other green features of historical buildings; in Rockefeller Center (Hood and Cerbett,1932)

Figure 2. Rockefeller Center sky gardens[15]
tenants are provided close access to sky gardens and windows are located very closely to the working space which allowed tenants to have control over their immediate environment. [16]
The name that cannot be skipped when dealing with the subject of history of green skyscrapers is one of Malaysian-born architect Datuk Ken Yeang. His name is synonymous with green skyscrapers design as he is known throughout the world as the father of sustainable skyscrapers. He has been working for years and has written many books on design solutions and developed a contemporary eco-concept of skyscrapers. He believes in a necessity of creating balance between engineering infrastructure and nature. Forty years ago he has recognized dangers of global warming and he began to design buildings that are an addition to the earth’s living and breathing ecosystems.[17]
Figure 3. Ken Yeang, “father” of bioclimatic skyscrapers [18]
In my thesis the term ‘green skyscrapers’ refers to high rise buildings that are designed in an energy efficient manner and are environmentally friendly. That would also include the concept of ecological and bioclimatic skyscrapers.

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