Pearl River Tower: Under construction
In 2005, when Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) presented plans for a new headquarters tower in Guangzhou, China that would incorporate the latest sustainable technology and engineering know-how in an attempt to create the world’s most energy efficient high-rise structure, eyebrows were raised.
While the plans for Pearl River Tower were impressive, there were those that remained sceptical simply due to how 'high concept' it was; the windows were to be made of double-glazed glass, the building was to be outfitted with wind turbines and solar panels to provide electricity and power the heating and cooling systems, and rainwater collection and grey-water recycling systems would reduce water consumption.
While that all seemed impressive, many wondered whether it would be possible to do in China, a country that, at the time, was known for its highly industrial and not every eco-friendly output.
However, in the past few years China has embraced renewable energy becoming one of the world's leading in renewable technology. As such, top-of-the-line sustainable technology is easily obtainable and with the construction just finishing on the top of the eco-skyscraper, it looks like SOM's plans to build the world's greenest skyscraper have succeeded.
"Innovative structural techniques"
The 71-story, 2.3-million square-foot tower, when finished, will be the most energy efficient super-tall tower ever built, and a milestone along the way to energy independence, and not having to rely on the city's infrastructure for power.
Like the 2005 plans, the building has been designed to include wind turbines and solar collectors, photovoltaic cells, raised floors ventilation, and radiant heating and cooling ceilings. Even its location is designed to take advantage of wind and solar patterns in the region.
According to Inhabitat, "it is south facing and features funnel style breaks in the facade that focus wind on integrated internal wind turbines. It has integrated photovoltaic panels that — along with the energy from the turbines — keep the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems energized.
"There are also motorized louvers on the facade of the building that rotate to keep the building cool and provide fresh air ventilation."
Although the building still isn't finished, it has already racked up several accomplishments including being the largest radiant-cooled office building in the world, the most energy efficient super-tall building in the world and a towering (no pun intended) example of China’s goal to reduce the intensity of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP in 2020 by 40 to 45 percent as compared to the level of 2005.
SOM for one are proud for their design saying, "The design of the ‘zero-energy’ concept Pearl River Tower reflects the principle of humankind in harmony with the environment."
Here's hoping other firms around the world will sit up and pay attention to what can be done with sustainable technology.
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