As companies across the nation look for ways to join the sustainable and eco-friendly movement, a new crop of environmentally conscious buildings had been born. Take of look at these innovative structures that were built to cut down on carbon emissions and benefit our ecosystem. In the long run, these companies save money and end up protecting the environment at the same time. It’s a win-win for all involved. Thankfully, green building is a rising trend across the country. Green building, or the concept of incorporating energy efficiency and environmental responsibility in every stage of a building, from design to construction, is gaining popularity as companies increasingly recognize both the cost efficiency and taking actions that their customers are demanding.

  1. Phipps’ Center For Sustainable Landscapes, Pittsburgh, PA. The Phipps’ center is an education and research facility. 
  • Meets all 6 highest green certifications. 
  • The main sustainable features include how the buildings’ energy generation by the usage of wind turbines and solar panels.
  • All rain and stormwater are captured and treated using sand and UV filters. 
  • The building and company are focused on showing the connection between built environments and nature.
  1. United States Courthouse–Los Angeles, CA. The new LA Federal Courthouse is a 633,000sqft facility with 24 courtrooms, 32 judicial chambers, and offices for a range of government services. I
  • The project met the GSA 2020 energy target of 35 EUI through an actual performance during its first year of operations. 
  • ESD features include site orientation and massing optimization. 
  • An onsite PV power generation, plus displacement air delivery systems, demand-control ventilation systems, and radiant hydronic systems. 
  • The project’s responsive façade design was praised for its two-fold purpose: to harvest light and reflect heat, while distinguishing the civic building from its surroundings. 
External facade view of New United States Courthouse Los Angeles
  1. San Francisco Art Institute: Fort Mason Centre Pier, CA. A historic US Army warehouse has been transformed into a new dynamic campus for the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI)—an adaptive rehabilitation project that preserves the industrial integrity of the existing landmark structure, integrates advanced sustainable strategies, and reuses existing building resources.  
  • The building’s environmental performance is boosted with new ESD systems, such as a new high-efficiency radiant slab, rooftop PV solar system that provides all of the building’s energy needs, and the maximization of daylight throughout the new arts hub. 
Interior view of San Francisco Art Institute Fort Mason Centre
  1. Banner Bank Building, Boise, Idaho. A bank in Idaho is one of the greenest buildings in the country. Banner is situated near public transportation systems and provides inside bike storage and shower stalls to encourage employees to further the green cause. 
  • The building itself was constructed from 40% recycled material and from all local suppliers.  
  • A water reclamation system and a geothermal heating system equate to a 65% decrease in energy and an 80% decrease in water compared to a typical building. 
  • Its backup generators run on bio-diesel made from used vegetable oil!
  1. Daybreak Corporate Center, Utah. The state’s first LEED platinum-certified building cost a hefty $40 million. 
  • More than 95% of the building waste from its construction was recycled.
  • 22% of all building materials were from recycled sources. 
  • 100% of stormwater is retained on-site and is used as a source for irrigating the landscape. 
  • The Corporate Center currently runs on 22% less energy than a traditionally built building.
  1. EpiCenter, Artists for Humanity, Boston, MA. The AFH’s nonprofit goals help underserved intercity young adults gain self-sufficiency through employment in the arts.  
  • AFH commissioned one of the greenest buildings in the country as fine arts school and gallery. 
  • Featuring the largest photovoltaic array in Boston, the roof-mounted PV array provides renewable energy for the building.
  • Rainwater is collected to use to water the landscape. 
  • These features, among others, allow the organization to save over $66,000 in electricity and natural gas costs annually.
  1. Heifer International, Little Rock, AR. This building is located on a prior abandoned railroad yard that was in desperate need of attention. 
  • Heifer removed tons of scrap metal and rundown buildings, and used them to create an office building that kept environmental responsibility in mind at every step.
  • Now it runs on 55% of the energy a typical office building would use. 
  • Rainwater is collected to both cool the building and to use in bathroom plumbing. 
  • The building also has light sensors, which adjust the light on overcast days; otherwise, the building makes use of copious windows for natural lighting.
  1. The Terry Thomas Building, Seattle, WA. The building was built on the site of a warehouse that was used by the band Pearl Jam as a practice space
  • The demolished warehouse provided 93% of the materials used in the new building.
  • Innovations include the use of day-lighting and natural ventilation. 
  • While more costly to build than a more typical layout, the building has a duration expectancy of 100 sustainable years.
  1. Willingboro Master Plan & Public Library, Willingboro, NJ. In 1990, this structure was an abandoned strip mall surrounded by a massive parking lot.
  • Using 100% of the structural steel and framework of the original structure, Croxton Collobrative Architects changed the building into a day-lit, naturally ventilated public library. 
  • The reforestation of the large chunks of surrounding asphalt was also encouraged. 
  • This building is a rare example of architectural reusing on a large scale and was a recipient of a 2007 AIA National COTE ‘Top Ten’ Green Projects award.

And let’s look at one from overseas for inspiration…

  1. SEAT Martorell plant, Barcelona, Spain. Seat’s car factory in Barcelona has a lot of sustainable building features. 
  • The factory has around 4000 square meters of photocatalytic pavement which reduces air pollution by 40% because of the way the materials react in contact with pollution and light. 
  • The building also features the largest solar power plant in automotive companies. 
  • There are 53,000 panels in total, this generates around 17 million kWh every year.

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