Climate change is a major topic on people’s minds. Over the past decade, the concern has manifested itself in everything from all-electric vehicles to solar-powered air travel. Eco-friendly living has even seeped into some of the largest sustainable architecture and high design buildings in the world. From the Rick Cook–crafted Bank of America Tower in Manhattan to the verdant WOHA-designed Oasia Hotel in downtown Singapore, I’m going to present to you some of the most sustainable buildings on the planet that turn eco-friendly measures into beautiful design.
Bank of America Tower (New York City)
Designed by American architect Rick Cook, the Bank of America Tower in New York City is at the forefront of sustainable building with such features as floor-to-ceiling window glazing, which traps heat and maximizes natural light. What’s more, the building collects rainwater to reuse throughout the structure.
The Gensler-designed Shanghai Tower is the second tallest building in the world. With 632 meter-high, this building of modern architecture implements such advancements as a “transparent second skin,” which consists of a double-glass façade that significantly reduces the building’s carbon footprint. A LEED Gold certified building, Shanghai Tower’s exterior lighting is powered by wind-driven generators.
Bahrain World Trade Center
The Bahrain World Trade Center is a 240-meter-high (787 ft), 50-floor, twin tower complex located in Manama, Bahrain. Designed by the multi-national architectural firm Atkins, construction on the towers was completed in 2008. It is the first skyscraper in the world to integrate wind turbines into its design that generates power from strong breezes coming from the nearby Persian Gulf.
Pixel Building (Melbourne, Australia)
Melbourne’s Pixel Building is a showy example of sustainable architecture and high design architecture. Designed by the Australian-based firm Studio505, the structure uses an intricate assembly of recycled colored panels to provide its occupants with maximized light control.
One Central Park (Sydney, Australia)
Also in Australia, Sydney’s One Central Park, designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel, is as bold as it is eco-friendly. The structure is covered in 35 different species of plants, effectively trapping carbon dioxide, emitting oxygen, and providing energy-saving shade. This contemporary design breathes green all over.
Oasia Hotel (Singapore)
The WOHA-designed Oasia Hotel in Singapore is a prime example of how sustainable architecture and high design are a perfect match. Completed in 2016, the verdant building utilizes its many gaps and porous exterior to allow natural air to funnel in and around the interiors, thus saving on energy.
Taipei 101 (Taiwan)
The 1,667-foot-tall Taipei 101 skyscraper was designed in 2004 by C. Y. Lee. The building uses low-flow water fixtures that effectively reduce water usage by at least 30 percent compared to average building consumption and save roughly 7.4 million gallons of water each year.
CopenHill (Copenhagen, Denmark)
CopenHill is proof that eco-friendly architecture can be accomplished with high design. To that end, the eco-friendly waste-to-energy power plant emits no toxins into the atmosphere. Far from it. The structure can burn 400,000 tons of waste annually into enough clean energy to power 60,000 homes in the area.
Apple Park (Cupertino, California)
The Apple Park was created by the firm Foster + Partners, the 175-acre campus was the culmination of a dream that Steve Jobs had in 2004 while walking through London’s Hyde Park. It was while there that the iconic founder decided to house his company in a new environment where the barrier between building and nature seamlessly disappeared. To fulfill that ambition, Jobs turned to top architect Norman Foster. His vision turned into a ring-shaped sustainable architecture and high design building that runs on fully sustainable energy, much of which comes from the solar panels that line the top of the spaceship-like structure.