Intelligent buildings designed for sustainability
Over the course of history, architecture has proven to be much more than just a technical science for designing structures and spaces. It is a discipline which yields enormous powers for transforming both labour and social relations. The new challenge facing architecture is to design buildings which are sustainable, energy efficient and capable of being self-sufficient.
In Europe, buildings account for 40 % of energy consumption and 35 % of the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) which cause the greenhouse effect. In the light of these figures, the commitment to sustainable architecture becomes an essential part of the fight against climate change. As discussed in previous articles, the concept involves, amongst other things, making use of all natural phenomena to generate energy and collecting waste and wastewater properly so it can be reused.
” Manhattan and Melbourne boast two great examples of sustainable architecture: the One World Trade Center site and the Pixel Building.
The One World Trade Centre is a good example of sustainable architecture. The complex is located in downtown Manhattan and was built using 75 % recycled materials. The most iconic building stands 541 metres high and has a glass façade which collects light throughout the day. In addition to solar panels, hydrogen fuel cells and wind turbines, the building uses water from the Hudson River for HVAC, as well as for flushing toilets.
” Abengoa’s headquarters adheres to the principles of sustainable architecture and is an example of its commitment to the fight against climate change.
As part of Abengoa’s commitment in the fight against climate change we also champion sustainable architecture. One of the most iconic examples can be found in Seville; Abengoa’s headquarters at the Campus Palmas Altas comprising seven buildings where some 3,000 workers co-exist on a daily basis with students from the University of Loyola. British architect Richard Rogers designed and led the project which commenced in 2005 and was completed in 2009, in collaboration with Spanish architect, Luis Vidal. The primary objective was to create a sustainable, environmentally friendly building.
As a result, Campus Palmas Altas has multiple features designed to reduce the impact on the environment as much as possible. There are passive measures such as the intelligent design of the compact buildings that make up the Campus, which minimizes energy consumption, increases the shade between buildings, optimizes natural light and creates a microclimate through courtyards connected by water elements.
Likewise, Abengoa’s headquarters also makes use of a series of active measures such as HVAC systems like the so-named chilled beam, which, thanks to its innovative cooling system, avoids the emission into the atmosphere of 1,300 t of CO2/ year compared with a conventional system.
Other measures that help reduce energy consumption are offices with natural light oriented for optimal solar gain; photovoltaic solar panels and collectors which use solar thermal technology to generate electricity; a trigeneration system to provide light, cold and heat as required and fuel cells to accumulate additional energy. Thanks to all these measures Campus Palmas Altas is capable of generating up to 66 % of the energy it uses.
So, by using these measures and renewable energy sources we can reduce the consumption of fossil fuel and hence the CO2 emissions associated with it, making it possible to produce a high proportion of the energy required, locally.
Sustainable architecture is the result of a shift in mind-set. Buildings are no longer considered simply as shelters that exploit the environment. Now we have started to see them as entities that must be self-sufficient. This is precisely the future of architecture and the challenge it faces.