ARCHITECTURE + Sustainability IS A CATEGORY IN ARCHITIZER'S A+AWARDS. THE A+AWARDS CELEBRATES THE WORLD’S BEST ARCHITECTURE, SPACES AND PRODUCTS. LEARN MORE.
Today, architecture finds itself at a crossroads. Building materials and new construction, along with the operation and maintenance of buildings, account for a significant sum of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. Faced with this fact, how are architects to responsibly pursue the act (and art) of building without further deteriorating the planet's environmental make-up or depleting its resources? What forms of high and low technology can be developed to curtail the injurious side of building? Can good or even great architecture be sustainable?
The answer, of course, is yes. The best buildings have always shown a concern for their immediate environs and how they fit in them, whether they were conscious of "sustainability" or not. Now, all architects and buildings are expected to be engaged with sustainable standards, such as LEED titles, photovoltaic cells, or green roofs—all things that these projects have in common.
Off Grid Home in Extramadura (2013 A+ Jury Prize)
Designed by ÃBATON
Sustainable feature: Relies on photovoltaic and hydro power (weighted toward solar in summer and hydro in winter) to ensure home doesn't use much energy. The swimming pool acts as a holding tank for use in irrigation.
Designed by Steven Holl Architects
Sustainable feature: The entire "green" complex is anchored to the site by 655 geothermal wells, which cool and heat the apartments, offices, and shops.
Photo: Alexander Denmarsh Photography
Center for Sustainable Landscapes, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Designed by TDA Architects
Sustainable feature: Aims to be the first building to achieve Living Building Challenge (net-zero water, net-zero energy), LEED Platinum, and Sustainable Sites Initiative certifications.
Caterpillar House (2013 A+ Awards Special Mention)
Designed by Feldman Architecture
Sustainable feature: Integrated photovoltaic panels enable the house to produce all of its energy requirements, and three tanks capture rainwater for irrigation.
Green-side Wall (aka "Vegitecture")
Designed by Capella Garcia Arquitectura
Sustainable feature: A vertical green facade with garden terraces that is maintained by an integrated drip irrigation system. The wall generates oxygen and absorbs C02, while also insulating the adjacent apartment units and dampening street noise.
California Academy of Sciences
San Francisco, California
Designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Sustainable feature: Constructed of recovered materials—nearly 95% of the steel was recycled—and designed with ventilation and light pumped into all work areas. The building is armed with 60,000 photovoltaic cells that leads to a savings of 5-10% in energy usage.
Photo: David Sundberg/Esto
Via Verde - The Green Way (2013 A+ Special Mention)
Bronx, New York
Designed by Grimshaw
Sustainable feature: Affordable housing development on a reclaimed brownfield site is designed to achieve LEED Gold and exceed the NYSERDA Multifamily Performance Program and Enterprise Green Communities guidelines for environmental responsibility.34,000 square feet of green roofs offer active gardening, enhance building insulation, and reduce storm water run-off, for on-site irrigation.
Centre for Virtual Engineering
Designed by UNStudio
Sustainable feature: Received Gold certification by the German Sustainable Building Council for its "inclusive" approach to sustainable design that features a compact building footprint—making it easier for light to penetrate the structure on all sides throughout the day—and uses low-maintenance, recyclable materials.
Pasona HQ Tokyo
Designed by Kono Designs LLC
Sustainable feature: Major renovation project consisting of a double-skin green facade, a rooftop garden, and urban farming facilities integrated within the building.