Overwhelmed by the amount of greenwashing in the building industry? We present five case studies that offer solid options for designing and constructing green projects, from living roofs to geothermal systems.
HARNESSING THE SUN
Green Dot school, Los Angeles
A wall of solar panels covers the south facade of the Green Dot Animo Leadership
High School in Los Angeles, by Brooks + Scarpa Architects. But that’s just partly why this
school serves as a great example of energy self-sufficiency. The 85‑metre-long building is oriented to the south, to take full advantage of the California sunshine via passive design systems. “In essence, the energy needs are kept as low as possible through the design,” says principal Lawrence Scarpa, “and the active systems only enhance the building’s performance.” The photovoltaic facade consists of 650 modules by Serengeti E13, while the roof features an additional 200 panels. Altogether, the modules create a screen system that shades the interior while powering the entire school. brooksscarpa.com
Other notable solar system manufacturers:
Onyx Solar, Schott, Solar Dawn, Uni-Solar
The courtyard design
is all about enticing students outdoors. The main gathering area is oriented behind the shaded north-facing wall, which is animated by a dynamic circulation network that encourages kids to take the stairs and forget the elevator. The outdoor furniture, made from pre- and post-recycled steel and aluminum, is by Landscape Forms.
For more makers of eco-friendly outdoor furniture: Equiparc, Forms + Surfaces, Wasau, Waste Wise
Roll-up glass doors
by manufacturer Wayne Dalton, at either end of the gymnasium and the dance studio, maximize daylight, eliminating the need for artificial light during the day, and contributing to a healthy environment for students. “I’ve never heard anyone say, ‘I really don’t like natural light. I’d rather be in a dark space,’” says Scarpa. “It’s just a basic human desire.”
You can also specify custom openings through: Marvin, Pella, Serious Windows
in galvanized corrugated steel shade the east side, and a vertical ribbed steel screen caps the west end like a deep blue net. The screens bring in natural light while diffusing glare, which decreases solar heat gain and reduces cooling loads.
Other sun-blocking screens: Cambridge Architectural Mesh, Cascade Coil, Colt, Sun Glow
GREEN FROM THE FLOOR UP
Ecologia house, Montreal
Recycled ash planks are just one of the many eco-friendly moves used in Ecologia. The two-storey house, completely gutted and renovated by architect Gervais Fortin, is the first single dwelling in Montreal on track to achieve LEED Platinum status. Sourced from Quebec’s Dava, which makes lumber from trees rejected by the local sawmill industry, the ash flooring enlivens the kitchen and living room. “It makes the space feel contemporary and luminous,” says Sabine Karsenti, who owns the home and participated in making it as green as possible. The planks are warmed by an Econobec radiant flooring system, which is in turn powered by an underground geo-thermal pipe network. The system is more efficient than central heating, saving up to 60 per cent on utilities. “We wanted to incorporate as much green as we could in an urban setting,” says Karsenti. “People who walk in feel a sense of calmness and peace.” gervaisfortin.com
Other eco-flooring manufacturers: Armstrong, DuroDesign, EcoTimber, European Flooring, Excelsior, Moncer, Plyboo. Proven radiant flooring systems: Britech, Nuheat, Quest Geothermal, Warmboard
The Hempcrete walls
were handcrafted by local artisans Art du Chanvre from hemp and limestone. More thermally insulating and breathable than drywall, the compound also resists moisture, vermin, mould and fire. “Natural walls make the space so cozy,” says owner Sabine Karsenti.
For more sustainable building materials: Biostruct, Construction Specialties, ROOS
The green roof,
by Midex, provides a buffer between the building and the sun’s direct rays. It also reduces heating and cooling loads, filters stormwater runoff and cleans the surrounding air.
Green roofs are best sourced locally, but here are a few: Green Roof Blocks, GroRoof, LiveRoof, Sempergreen, Vitaroofs
The kitchen cabinetry,
by Tendances Concept, is constructed from FSC-certified, low-formaldehyde particleboard, made of recycled and recovered wood fibre.
Other eco-kitchen recommendations: AyA, Bulthaup, Scavolini, Valcucine
including the combi-steam oven, range hood, cooktop and fridge, are by Gaggenau and Thermador. With automatic shut-off and moisture control programming, they consume fewer kilowatts per hour than offerings from other high-end manufacturers, delivering substantial energy savings over time.
You can source more energy-efficient appliances from: Asko, Bosch, Miele
The stone facade,
in slate grey, is both dramatic and durable. Because it was sourced and custom fabricated locally, by Les Carrières Ducharme quarry, it reduced the home’s overall embodied carbon footprint.
Other eco-stone companies: Realstone Systems, StoneRox, TerraCore
Insulated concrete forms,
the building blocks of Ecologia, are made by Nudura with recycled content. By reducing air leaks, the ICFs provide thermal insulation and durability up to 10 times that of a wood frame structure.
Other ICF sources: Arxx, Durisol, Logix
The double-glazed windows
from Eco Insulating Glass have an R10 value, indicating high thermal resistance. A heat mirror film sandwiched between the layers cuts down on glare, as well as 99.5 per cent of UV rays. Together with the super-insulating krypton gas infill between the panes, the film helps cut energy use by 30 per cent.
Other glass manufacturers that supply heat mirror insulation: Dow Corning, Guardian SunGuard, Southwall Technologies
Eneco headquarters, Rotterdam
Living walls inside and out are one way to make an office building greener, in both appearance and function. For its Rotterdam headquarters, the green energy supplier Eneco hired Dam & Partners, Hofman Dujardin Architects and Fokkema & Partners to create a healthy, beautiful work environment. The three-storey building’s 1,000-square-metre exterior is covered with various leafy species nourished by a low-water remote control irrigation system. Together, the interior and exterior walls – created by manufacturer Copijn and interior landscaping firm Ambius – are made up of 25,000 plants, including honeysuckle, geraniums and ornamental grasses, which naturally purify the air and provide insulation. Coupled with the other design features, the living walls lower the project’s carbon footprint by 140 per cent. damenpartners.nl, hofmandujardin.nl, fokkema-partners.nl
Green walls are best sourced locally, but here are some stellar options: ELT, Green Living Technologies, Livewall, Vitaroofs
An array of LED fixtures
complements the ample natural illumination inside the building. Studio Rublek, an Amsterdam firm that specializes in interior lighting, outfitted the space with custom designs as well as LED-equipped fixtures by Axo, DeltaLight, Flos, Foscarini and Moooi.
The office furniture,
including this reading table by Dutch manufacturer Coors (as well as pieces throughout by the likes of Buzzispace, Fritz Hansen and Prooff), were all sourced for their sustainability and craftsmanship. Plus, all of the seating upholstery – from Kvadrat, Ultrafabrics and others – is EU Ecolabel certified.
For other eco-office furniture options, try: Herman Miller, Inscape, Keilhauer, Teknion. For eco-upholstery: HBF Textiles, J+J Invision, Knoll Textiles, Lee Industries, Momentum Textiles, Sensuede
A heat and cold storage system
helps reduce HVAC loads, enhancing the efficiency of the roof-mounted photovoltaic system that powers most of the building. Engineered by Energie Totaal Projecten, the HCS system stores heat extracted from layers of sand 100 metres underground.
For more HCS system suppliers: Mannvit, Mott MacDonald, SGL Group
WOOD AT HEART
Bullitt Center, Seattle
A timber frame goes a long way toward making the Bullitt Center in Seattle extremely energy efficient. The new six-storey commercial office project is a 3‑D textbook of green construction, with such features as ample daylighting complemented by an expansive solar panel rooftop overhang, which produces enough energy to make up for Seattle’s 226 cloudy days a year. But the oddly shaped facility’s most intriguing element is its very structure, a wooden frame that surrounds fly ash concrete and recycled steel rebar. Wood frame buildings remain a novelty, although current technology has made timber tower construction a viable and far more eco-friendly alternative to glass and steel. For the Bullitt Center, architects Miller Hull used FSC glulam frames, which consist of timbers made from small pieces of wood bonded with non-toxic glue. The timbers were prefabricated to measure at the factory, saving time, energy and waste at the construction site. millerhull.com
Other glulam frame manufacturers: Calvert Company, Fraserwood, Structurlam, Tecolam
A water filtration system with micron
filters from Pentek and UV filtration from Viqua makes the building independent
of municipal water and sewage systems.
For more water filtration systems: Aqua2use, Conservation Technology, Ecopatron, Rainfresh, 3M
Geothermal wells placed 122 metres
underground offset the energy load by about 60 per cent. The system was supplied by PAE Consulting Engineers, PSF Mechanical and GeoTility.
For more geothermal companies, check out: Clean Energy Solutions, Climatemaster, Nextenergy
The sustainable hardscaping
includes sand-set pavers, supplied by Abbotsford Paving, that allow water to soak into the soil below, reducing runoff. The building is also equipped with bike racks only – no parking spots.
Pervious paving suppliers: Invisible Structures, Nicolock, Unilock
windows by Schuco flush out excess heat and bring cool air into the interior spaces at night, helping to automatically regulate temperature and boost natural ventilation.
Window manufacturers worth knowing about: Extech, Velux, Windowmaster