05 Aug 2022

Top 5 Sustainable Building Examples Around the World

Image by Lily Banse

There are many ways to judge the quality or relevance of a building, whether by style of architecture, historical significance, size, and so on. However, in recent years, focus has increasingly shifted to sustainable building. The era of climate change has led us to make green architecture not a quirky option, but a grave necessity. 

As wildfires devastate landscapes and cities break records for high temperatures, the importance of green building technology cannot be overemphasized. Today, we’ll be covering 5 great sustainable building examples, so you can take inspiration from them for your next building project.

Introduction to Sustainable Building

What makes a building sustainable?

The answer could differ depending on who you ask. However, generally, it is about minimizing a building’s environmental impact, from construction to end of use. The aspect of construction is especially important, since it is one of the world’s biggest polluters.

Having said that, there are many ways to make a building sustainable, including but not limited to sustainable building materials, energy efficiency, or an aim to conserve biodiversity. Building Information Modeling (BIM) is another way to foster sustainability on a wider scale, for towns, cities, and so on. Here’s how.

5 Sustainable Building Examples from Around the World

We will not be including designs or planned projects, such as the impressive Sanko HQ in Istanbul, Turkey. Instead, we will be focusing on buildings that have already been constructed, so that you have practical references.

1. Museum of Tomorrow (2015, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

The Museu do Amanhã (Museum of Tomorrow) is an ethereal structure, “almost floating above the sea,” as stated by the architect, Santiago Calatrava.

This futuristic building juts out diagonally into the sky from Rio’s old port, and is a testament to future possibilities in innovative sustainable design.

The science museum’s design is inspired by Carioca culture. It stands among the finest sustainable construction examples, with natural light and energy sources.

  • Fin-like, photovoltaic solar panels can be adjusted to optimize sun’s rays throughout the day and generate solar energy for the museum.

  • Temperature is regulated by cold water from the Guanabara Bay through a pumping system. The Bay also provides water to the museum’s surrounding reflecting pools.

2.CopenHill (2017, Copenhagen, Denmark)

Nearly a decade in the making, CopenHill, also called Amager Bakke or Amagerforbrændingen, is a waste-to-energy plant first conceived by Bjarke Ingels Group. When it comes to mixed-use projects, CopenHill might be a quintessential example.

One of its functions is that of a sports facility, with an artificial snowboard and ski slope and one of the world’s tallest climbing towers. But its true value lies in the 440,000 tons of waste that is converted yearly into heating and electricity for 150,000 homes. This is done through turbines, furnaces, and steam.

Its incredible façade is meant to hide the fact that it is a factory. This green building thus combines beauty with functionality. CopenHill has set out to become the cleanest waste-to-energy plant in the world.

3.Sun-Moon Mansion (1995, Dezhou, China)

If there’s a sustainable building example on this list that will make your jaw hit the floor, it’s probably this one. The Sun-Moon Mansion is a stupefying structure, with its design inspired by the sun-dial. It is the largest solar-powered high-rise building in the world, covering 750,000m².

It is the headquarters of Himin Solar Energy, which was founded by Ming Huang in 1995. In 2010, it provided the main conference hall for the 4th Fourth International Solar Cities Conference, a massive expo for everything solar-related.

  • The fan-like roof is covered in roughly 5.000 m2 solar panels.

  • The building is designed to act as a hotel, research facility, and exhibition center, as well as provide convention spaces and meeting rooms.

  • It uses over 30 technologies, such as northern grilling sun-shades and photovoltaic grid-connected power generation. This hikes up its energy-saving efficiency to 88%.

  • The Sun-Moon Mansion is estimated to save 8.6 tons in toxic emissions, 2.5 tons of standard coal, and 6.6 million kWh of electricity.

4.Beitou Public Library (Taipei, Taiwan)

Beitou Library, designed by architect Kuo Ying-Chao, is frequently ranked among the world’s most beautiful public libraries. It is a major point of interest for both locals and tourists.

  • The library consists of solar cells that can generate up to 16,000 watts of power.

  • It also includes a rainwater harvesting system to water indoor plants and flush toilets.

  • The wooden construction, vertical trellises and deep balconies further reduce consumption of power and ward off thermal radiation.

5.Floating Schools (2002, Bangladesh)

This doesn’t refer to any one structure inaugurated in any one year. Rather, more importantly, perhaps, it spans several schools built over several years, benefitting almost 70,000 children since 2002.

The floating schools of Bangladesh are our pick for the most practical examples of sustainable architecture from this list.

Educators and students in Bangladesh face major problems due to flooding, which is only being exacerbated by climate change. Not only that, they have to deal with the usual challenges most teachers and students face in developing nations, such as overcrowded classrooms, funding limitations, and outdated textbooks.

The local non-profit organization, Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, set out to minimize the issue of flooding. It introduced solar-powered floating schools, so that children could continue their education even during the worst of the monsoons.

Instead of the children going to school, school comes to them. The floating schools double as school buses, collecting students, docking, and providing. After class ends, the students are dropped back home and others are picked up.

Every boat has a laptop, a working Internet connection, electronic resources, and a library, and provides education till the 4th grade. Thanks to the solar lighting, the school schedule is flexible, and many students take an economical solar lantern home with them after classes end.

Organizations such as Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha have helped the country make dramatic social and economic progress. Since 2000, Bangladesh has cut its poverty rate by half.

Green building technology and sustainable architecture aren’t just vehicles for curbing climate change – they can and should also serve as vehicles for social change.

Conclusion

What do you think? Should governments invest more heavily in sustainable construction? Let us know in the comments!

We hope this article has given you some inspiration to make your next project more sustainable. One of the keys to this will be using BIM modeling services, such as Scan to BIM, Revit Modeling and BIM Clash Detection.

Luckily for you, BluEntCAD offers BIM modeling services to architectural companies, engineering companies, general contractors, civil engineers, MEP engineers, MEP subtraders, and HVAC subtraders. Browse our portfolio to see how we’ve helped companies like yours.

Ready to make your project more sustainable with BIM services? Contact us now!

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CAD Evangelist. "Top 5 Sustainable Building Examples Around the World" CAD Evangelist, Aug. 05, 2022, https://www.bluentcad.com/blog/sustainable-building-examples/the-great-wall-of-china.

CAD Evangelist. (2022, August 05). Top 5 Sustainable Building Examples Around the World. Retrieved from https://www.bluentcad.com/blog/sustainable-building-examples/

CAD Evangelist. "Top 5 Sustainable Building Examples Around the World" CAD Evangelist https://www.bluentcad.com/blog/sustainable-building-examples/ (accessed August 05, 2022 ).

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