Sustainable architecture, also commonly referred to as green building technology, is one of the key considerations in the construction of modern high-rise buildings. This is because of the urgent need to protect the environment from possible adverse effects of sourcing for the vast quantities of materials required for the erection of such structures. Sustainable architecture also helps reduce the dependency on depleting resources for the provision of energy required by a large number of people concentrated in a relatively small space.
One World Trade Center
One World Trade Center is a 104 story super tall skyscraper located in the Lower Manhattan area of New York City and is the main building of the new World Trade Center complex. Designed by David Childs of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the ground breaking for the building took place in 2004 and should open its doors for occupation in late 2013. The building features an extensive range of green technologies both in its construction and in some of its functional features.
Although the structure is brand new, almost 75% of the building is “old,” specifically with reference to the building materials used. The intensive reuse of postindustrial materials in everything from its ceiling tiles to gypsum boards means that the structure is a product of recycling. According to the tower’s builders, Tishman Construction, this building method not only eases stress on resources, but also reduces the onsite environmental footprint.
Green Concrete Instead of Cement
Another groundbreaking innovation that makes the One World Trade Center particularly friendly to the environment is the minimal amount of cement used in its construction. A material known as “Green Concrete” forms most of the building’s thick, reinforced walls. The concrete used is a result of environmentally responsible production methods that save over 30,000 gallons of water and eight million kWh of electricity. Its use also means that the building’s construction has also resulted in greatly reduced carbon emissions.
Fuel Cell Technology
One World Center boasts one of the world’s largest fuel cell installations, which are among the cleanest sources of energy available today. The PureCell system by ClearEdge Power is a phosphoric acid fuel cell that lowers energy costs and reduces emissions. In addition, the manufacturer claims that it offers 95 % efficiency, has 10-year cell stack durability as well as a product life of 20 years. This massive installation uses natural gas in a combustion-free process, utilizing exhaust heat for cooling and heating, creating usable energy from potential waste.
Water Conservation and Rain Collection
One of the most outstanding ways that the One World Trade Center uses green technologies is its water collection, distribution and conservation system. While the roof area of the tower is comparative limited compared to other types of buildings, New York City receives over 60 inches of rainfall annually, resulting in the potential for considerable rainwater reserves. The collected rainwater runs within its cooling, fire-suppression systems and the waterfalls to commemorate the victims of the 9/11 attacks. There is extensive landscaping at the site as well, irrigated by the collected and recycled water.
The building’s designers have incorporated an impressive energy saving feature known as “daylighting.” The system works through dimmers that automatically sense bright sunlight coming in on sunny days and lower the intensity of interior lights, reducing power consumption. The dimmers have been strategically located in all spaces that are within 15 feet of the building’s ultra-clear glass windows.
Overall, the designers and builders of One World Trade Center have managed the enviable feat: creating a sustainable structure that is both functional and modern, while honoring the memory of the destroyed towers. For this reason, the building will receive a LEED Gold Certification upon completion. This award recognizes the innovations that make it one of the most environmentally friendly buildings of its size worldwide.