Fifty percent of the world’s population currently live in cities and this percentage will continue to grow, increasing demand for urban life to be a liveable one. Urban growth is a large contributing factor to climate change. The building sector alone contributes 30% of greenhouse gas emissions and consumes 40% of the world’s energy. The trend of sustainable infrastructure needs to be both liveable for growing urban populations as well as functional in reducing waste and conserving energy. Thus, as the construction of green buildings grows globally, one only hopes the trend continues.
In this vein, I highlight one building from each continent (including Antarctica) to recognize their innovative solutions and how they have set the stage for future green infrastructure. Welcome to the Seven IoT Wonders of the World!
City: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Function: Office Building
Architect: Ron Bakker
Awards: Received the highest BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology) rating for office buildings in 2015.
Features: Taking advantage of the wireless lifestyle, The Edge has no permanent work spaces and heavily relies on smart devices. Deloitte employees use their smart phones and tablets to find parking spots, lockers for their belongings, available desks for personal work, and open offices for phone calls. The Edge also has over 28,000 sensors to monitor the people inside the building. When an employee enters an office, he or she can use their smart phone to adjust the lighting and temperature. The smart phone remembers his or her preferences and then regulates all rooms to match that lighting and temperature to the individual. Smart phone data then becomes “big data” for the company as building managers can track the overall energy usage from employees inside the building.
Future: The Edge is a pioneer of incorporating Internet of Things into green architecture. The design to not have permanent work spaces also reduces the amount of space needed in a building. Architect Bakker dreams that with more technologically advanced buildings, fewer buildings will need to be produced and more natural resources can be conserved.
Museum of Tomorrow (Museu Do Amanha)
Continent: South America
City: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Architect: Santiago Calatrava
Awards: LEED Platinum-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)
Features: Uses Guanabara bay for cooling, and has rotating solar panels to follow the sun, reducing its carbon emissions by forty percent. Exhibits, focusing on global issues such as climate change, use virtual reality and other technologies to talk about environmental issues that affect the earth’s future.
Future: Other buildings mentioned in this article were mainly located in central business districts where modern development is strongly encouraged. The Museum of Tomorrow stands out because the structure is located at old industrial port area. The development of this green building addresses the bigger question of “sustainability” and what it fully means. Sustainability is not only reducing a carbon footprint with architectural and technological design, but also needs to be “sustainable” for the surrounding communities.
Shenzhen Institute of Building Research
City: Shenzhen, China
Future: Research Building and Laboratory
Architect: Ye Qing
Awards: 1st grade, 2010 National Green Building Award (China)
1st place, National Demo Project of Renewable Energy Application (China)
1st place, National Top 100 Green Building Demo Projects (China)
Features: Complementing Shenzhen’s weather patterns, the building uses winds from the beach front to help cool the building, and has photovoltaic windows to use natural lighting during the day. There are plans to install a building management system so that building operators can better track conservation and overall structural performance
Future: China has been rapidly producing green buildings across the country, so it’s only appropriate that a building research center would follow suit. The Shenzhen research building takes advantage of the natural features such as ocean wind and natural sunlight, reflecting that new modern buildings can have a sense of character with the surrounding geographic features.
City: Ikoyi, Nigeria
Function: Office Building
Architect: Capita Symonds (UK) and ECAD (Nigeria)
Awards: First LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) approved building in Nigeria.
Features: The building uses 30-40% less waste than other buildings in Ikoyi. The building harvests rainwater to be used as toilet water and irrigation. Taking advantage of natural lighting, the high number of windows reduces the use and electric cost of artificial lighting. Smart sensors helps monitor lighting and water usage throughout the building.
Future: With Ikoyi being Nigeria’s first LEED environmentally certified building, Heritage Place puts Nigeria on the world stage for green architecture. As the country’s economic potency continues to grow, Ikoyi’s skyline will hopefully have more green buildings that match the green achievements of Heritage Place.
Telus Tower, 25 York Street
Continent: North America
City: Toronto, Canada
Function: Office Building
Architect: Sweeny & Co Architects Inc. and Adamson Associates Architects
Awards: LEED Platinum. First Canadian building to implement LEED Dynamic Plaque.
Features: The LEED Dynamic Plaque is a building performance and monitoring platform that uses mobile technology to track a building’s carbon footprint. With its cloud-based software system, energy usage within the building can be tracked in real-time. The LEED Dynamic Plaque tracks five categories: energy, water, waste, occupant transportation, and human experience.
Future: The installation of the LEED Dynamic Plaque represents the fusion between smart buildings and green buildings, and that the future of green architecture needs to implement smart technology.
City: Melbourne, Australia
Function: Office Building
Architect: Spowers Architects
Awards: Victoria’s Premier Sustainability Award 2003.
Banksia Award 2003 in the Leadership Sustainable Features category.
Features: Unlike the previous buildings in this article, 60L is a historically restored building. The office building stores and recycles water. It also has computer controlled “louvre” windows to monitor the building’s temperature in relation to outside weather.
Future: This building demonstrates the fact that historical buildings can be redesigned into green buildings, which is more environmentally-friendly than constructing a new building. Additionally, 60L exemplifies that historical buildings can also be tech-saavy as well.
Princess Elisabeth Station
Function: Research station
Architect: Philippe Syman
Awards: First “zero emissions” research station in Antarctica
Features: Uses renewable energy such as solar and wind. Uses grid technology to monitor energy usage.
Future: Over 10 project partners collaborated to create Princess Elisabeth Research Station, and now four countries utilizing it to work on international research at this station. This building represents the international collaboration to promote green and smart architecture in a non-profit context.
If you’d like to learn more about the buildings mentioned in “7 IoT Wonders of the World,” check out their pages here:
- The Edge (The Netherlands)
- Museum of Tomorrow (Brazil)
- Shenzhen Institute of Building Research (China)
- Heritage Palace (Nigeria)
- Telus Tower (Canada)
- 60L (Australia)
- Princess Elisabeth Station (Antarctica)