4 Incredible Examples of Green Architecture from around the World

Green architecture is becoming increasingly popular as people become more aware of the importance of sustainability. Many architects are turning toward environmentally friendly building design, using materials that are recyclable and energy efficient.  

The Movement toward Green Architecture  

The green architecture movement began in the early 2000s, when people began to become more aware of the need to protect our environment. Since then, the number of green buildings has grown exponentially, and architects have begun to design some truly amazing structures that are both environmentally friendly and beautiful. 

While there isn’t a specific designation for a green building, there are several criteria that a building can meet to be considered “green” by most people. These include: 

  • The use of recycled materials or renewable resources such as bamboo and timber instead of concrete, steel, or plastic-based products. Sustainable building materials have a lower carbon footprint on the environment but still provide a structurally sound building. 
  • The use of energy-efficient lighting and heating and cooling systems, as well as water conservation measures such as low-flow faucets and toilets. 
  • The use of environmentally friendly construction methods. This can include avoiding toxic paints and adhesives or installing green roofs that help to regulate the temperature of the building and reduce carbon emissions from air conditioning units. 

Read on to look at four incredible examples of amazing green architecture from around the world. 

1. Green Architecture in China  

One of the most impressive examples of green architecture can be found in China. The Shanghai Tower, which is located in the city of Pudong and opened in 2015, stands over 600 meters tall with 128 stories. This incredible structure employs a variety of environmentally friendly design techniques. These include the building’s shape and its materials. Additionally, the tower has a “double skin façade,” which means that it has two layers of glass. This helps to regulate the internal temperature of the building and reduce energy consumption from air conditioning units. 

2. The Greenest Building in the World  

Perhaps the greenest building in the world is located in the Netherlands. Geelen Counterflow Headquarters is considered the greenest building in the world with a sustainability score of 99.94 by the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method, or BREEAM. The building was designed by PLP Architecture, which is known for its environmentally friendly designs and has won multiple awards over the years. 

Geelen Counterflow Headquarters features a number of unique green design features, such as a natural garden that wraps around the building. Its careful solar energy design allows it to generate 60 percent more power than it uses. The building was constructed using recyclable materials, which minimized the carbon footprint, as well. 

3. The Greenest Building in the United States  

The greenest building in the United States is located in Seattle, Washington. The Bullitt Center is considered the “greenest commercial building in the world” and is a model for sustainable design. This six-story structure features a rainwater harvesting system that collects and stores rainwater in an underground tank; solar panels on the roof to generate electricity; high-efficiency windows that allow natural light to enter while keeping heat out during summer months; and much more. Most importantly, the building meets the metrics of the net-zero energy standard. This means that the building’s energy needs are all supplied directly on-site and not from an outside source.  

4. A Green Oasis in the Desert  

Perhaps one of the most amazing examples of green architecture can be found in Dubai, where architects have designed a massive green oasis in the desert. The project, which is dubbed “The Sustainable City” was established in 2015. The city is home to 2,700 residents in 500 villas grouped into five residential clusters. It even features a 10-meter-high (32.8 foot) “buffer zone” to protect inhabitants from outside pollutants. The buffer zone consists of 2,500 trees in multiple layers. A park runs through the city, including over 3,000 square meters (over 32,000 square feet) of urban farming. 

Takeaways on Green Architecture around the World 

These structures not only look great, but they also feature a variety of innovative technologies that allow them to operate more sustainably, thus helping to reduce their environmental impact. Perhaps most exciting is how quickly newer and greener techniques are being developed and shared across the world. So if you’re looking for some inspiration on how to go green with your next building project, be sure to check out some of these amazing examples. 

Water Efficiency in New Construction

Construction, Site, Build

William “Bill” Starkey spent 37 years as the chief executive officer of Starkey Construction in Waxahachie, Texas, which was ranked by BuildZoom.com in the top 37 percent of more than 222,000 Texas licensed contractors. Under William Starkey’s guidance, the Montgomery construction firm utilized a number of strategies to improve water efficiency.

Construction designs that conserve water not only save home and business owners money, but also add value and aesthetic appeal to properties. As water becomes more expensive and scarce, water-efficient designs are in high demand.

On the interior, builders can install water-conserving plumbing features such as waterless urinals or low-flow toilets, which can cut indoor water use by roughly 30 percent. Outdoors, planting native and drought-tolerant plants reduces water consumption, while installing a rainwater harvesting and irrigation system minimizes the need for watering. In commercial settings, shallow, tree-lined canals called bioswales collect rainwater and reduce runoff from hard surfaces such as parking lots, in addition to creating attractive green landscaping.

Affordable and Sustainable Housing for Low-Income Households

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A Montgomery, Texas resident, William “Bill” Starkey led Starkey Construction for more than 35 years. The company built luxury homes, schools, churches, and hospitals using premium materials. Besides custom-built homes, William Starkey is also interested in sustainability regarding house design, construction methods, and execution.

Advocates of sustainable design and construction assert that low-income individuals and families will benefit more in the long run if they live in houses that are not only affordable but also energy-efficient, durable, and have better indoor air quality. This notion comes at an opportune time when state housing agencies are prioritizing building more affordable housing for millions of low-income households.

To reach a middle-ground, designers and architects that are pro-green housing analyze different ways to achieve affordable and sustainable living for people in need. Some are diverting funds from landscaping and other non-essential parts of a house into energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, doors, windows, and appliances. In some cases, switching to eco-friendly paints and coatings can reduce exposure to harmful chemicals. Meanwhile, using low-flush toilets is efficient and economical.

Four Examples of Green Building Materials

For nearly 40 years, William “Bill” Starkey led Starkey Construction as CEO. Working predominantly in Texas, the business was known for building high-end custom homes. William Starkey of Montgomery, Texas also kept the company dedicated to using green building materials whenever possible. The following are examples of popular green building materials:

1. Bamboo – A fast-growing grass, bamboo is a sustainable alternative for wood. Not only does it resemble the aesthetic of wood, but it regenerates faster than trees. It is also available in many colors and styles that bring different personalities into a home.

2. Cork – In commercial spaces and homes, cork has become an increasingly popular flooring option. This is because harvesting cork does not harm the tree, making it very renewable, and the material has hypoallergenic and fire retardant qualities.

3. Strawbale – Good for framing or filling in gaps in the framework, straw is easily harvested and replanted with little impact on the environment. Meanwhile, it offers good soundproofing and insulation for buildings, thus helping homes save on energy costs.

4. Recycled steel – Using recycled or reclaimed steel in the framing of buildings increases the structure’s durability against earthquakes and saves trees. The material is entirely recyclable, so the use of it in new construction reduces ecological impact significantly.

Sustainable Design Integral to Nation’s Affordable Housing

A longtime Montgomery, Texas real estate executive, William “Bill” Starkey guided Starkey Construction, LLC, for more than three decades. Throughout his career, William Starkey emphasized green building materials and sustainable practices to conserve energy and water. William Starkey has a strong interest in the sustainable construction sphere’s latest trends across a wide range of verticals.

As highlighted in a BuildingGreen article, sustainable design and affordable housing goals can often be aligned in ways that many people do not realize. With a shortage of 7.4 million homes for low-income residents nationwide identified by the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, a priority is that such developments be long-lasting, energy-efficient, and beneficial to resident health. Among the strategies that pay long-term dividends are low-flush toilets, VOC paint, and the latest energy-efficiency technologies.

Beyond conserving energy and lightening the community’s energy load, affordable residences built with these principles in mind are also benefit those who live on the property. Low-income tenants find paying utilities to be a major financial burden, and any technology that lessens energy consumption is a boon to the pocketbooks of these financially constrained consumers.