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Green buildings for the cities of the future

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Developing smarter, greener buildings is essential if our cities are to continue growing sustainably

Green buildings are the way of the future


By 2030, 60 per cent of the world’s population will live in cities. That’s according to a 2013 report from McKinsey & Company.

While this will likely mean great things for economic development, there’s a risk if our cities fail to expand in the right way. In the swelling cities of the future, crime, poverty and failing infrastructure could be even more serious issues than they are now.

Much of the solution lies with developing realistic, actionable plans for our cities to address major issues – but a big part of it comes down to buildings. Developing smarter, greener buildings is essential if our cities continue to grow.

Going green

As of 2017, cities cover 2 per cent of the world’s land area, but account for 70 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. A substantial 30 per cent of those emissions are generated by buildings alone.


Green buildings – when designed correctly – cut down on waste, are far more energy efficient, take advantage of sustainable materials and use renewable energy.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best examples of green structures.

1. The Reichstag | Foster + Partners

This building includes seemingly every renewable energy source under the sun, from solar panels through to geothermal and biofuel. This means it can heat in winter and cool in summer.

2. Exploratorium at Pier 15 | EHDD

The famous science museum in San Francisco includes a 1.3 megawatt photovoltaic array on the roof. It also uses water from the harbour for heating and cooling.

3. Bahrain World Trade Center | Atkins

The substantial wind turbines mounted on this set of towers provide energy for the offices within. Their height means access to stronger wind currents, hence more reliable energy generation.

4. Pearl River Tower | SOM

This building utilises the latest green technology and engineering advancements. The unique, sculpted shape of the structure forces wind into narrow openings, where it's forced to drive powerful turbines.

5. Bank of America Tower | Cook + Fox Architects

This tower has a number of water-saving measures, including grey water recycling, rainwater harvesting systems, and waterless urinals. These save millions of gallons of potable water and reduce the building’s water consumption.

If you’re interested in learning about developments in the commercial space, take a look at the other articles on our website or sign up for commercial newsletter.

First published date: 13 July 2017

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