Strategies for Achieving Sustainable High-Rise Buildings

Strategies for Achieving Sustainable High-Rise Buildings

Sustainable high-rise buildings are tall inhabited structures constructed, planned, and managed to minimize their environmental impact while providing a pleasant and healthy living or working environment for their occupants. They use resources efficiently, reduce waste, and strive to minimize negative environmental consequences. Sustainable high-rise buildings often employ sustainable materials, energy-efficient design, and renewable energy sources. 

Sustainable high-rise buildings have various advantages. They can reduce energy consumption by using sustainable technologies like solar panels, energy-efficient lighting, and automated heating and cooling systems, which can decrease operating costs and the carbon footprint of the respective company. 

Sustainable high-rises aim to minimize their negative impact on the environment. They can reduce waste through smart collection and recycling programs and promote a sustainable urban environment by incorporating green design elements like green roofs and living walls that enhance biodiversity. Moreover, the more technically well-equipped high-rises can also be aimed at the purification of air and anti-bacterial living approach. Thus, ultimately improving the health and mental well-being of the occupants. If you're an architect working on a high-rise project, the prospects you should take into account before attempting a sustainable design for high-rises are stated below. 

High-rises are one of the 10 Hottest Architecture Trends Shaping Our City

Integrated Design Strategies for Sustainability in High-rise Buildings

Integrated design strategies involve a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to building design that optimizes the building's sustainability performance. Such strategies recognize that sustainable building design must involve multiple interconnected systems and needs to be considered holistically. To achieve sustainability in high-rise buildings, it is necessary to use integrated design strategies to address key sustainability challenges and implement the solution of those in your design practices. Best practices for integrating sustainable design into high-rise building projects include-:

  • Deployment of real-time building information modeling visibility tools. 
  • Setting SMART sustainability goals. 
  • Forming a multidisciplinary team that implements careful passive design as well as technological systems to achieve exponential results on the complex issues we are addressing with sustainable architecture. 
  • And at last, a process of detailed introspection in the current framework and ready-to-scale approach with growing business needs. These practices promote a more sustainable and resilient building, reducing environmental impact and promoting a circular economy.

Green buildings are surely a way to more sustainable architectural practices. To know more read 10 Clever Tips to Design a Sustainable and Affordable Home

Image source - Pixabay

Materials and Technologies for Sustainability

Sustainable high-rise building design employs a variety of innovative materials and technologies that reduce environmental impact and enhance sustainability. Some examples of these materials and technologies are 

Cross-laminated timber (CLT)- Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is a durable and eco-friendly option for constructing walls, floors, and roofs, which involves laminating wood layers in alternating directions to produce a sturdy panel. 

Dynamic facades- Dynamic facades are building exteriors that can modify their insulation or shading characteristics to match the environment, resulting in enhanced sustainability and optimized energy performance.

Green roofs and living walls- Green roofs and living walls are surfaces covered with plants offering several sustainable advantages to the structure on which the very same solutions are deployed. 

Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV)- Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) is a technology that integrates solar panels into building surfaces be it walls, roofs, or facades, providing a source of renewable energy and reducing reliance on grid electricity. 

Smart building systems- Smart building systems involve the utilization of IoT and high-tech Gizmodo to elevate building functionalities. This aims to enhance the efficiency of resources used, security, and comfort for occupants.

Incorporation of these innovative materials and technologies in sustainable high-rise building design can improve sustainability and decrease environmental impact. 

CLT and recycled materials reduce waste generated from materials left out in building construction

BIPV and smart building systems improve energy performance by incorporating renewable energy generation and consumption optimization measures. 

The biophilic design approach i.e., compensating on the land you are building and restoring the resources you have used, is promoted by green roofs and walls promoting the sponge architecture approach.

Before you move ahead, we suggest you to explore the Top 10 Natural Building Materials For Sustainable Architecture

Image source - Pixabay

Energy-Efficient Design Strategies

The reduction of energy consumption and costs in high-rise buildings can be addressed by several energy-efficient design strategies such as 

  • Optimal building orientation and form
  • High-performance building envelope
  • Building Automatic System coupled with renewable energy options 

These strategies can optimize the overall building performance and lead to reduced energy consumption and costs.

Successful case studies that have used energy-efficient design strategies to achieve sustainability include:

The Edge 

PLP Architecture created the high-rise office complex in Amsterdam known as The Edge. To reach an Energy Usage Intensity (EUI) of just 102 kWh/m2/year, which is 70% lower than the typical office building, it integrates sustainable design principles such as a high-performance building envelope, effective HVAC systems, and renewable energy technology.

Shanghai Tower 

Shanghai Tower, which opened in 2015, is a 632-meter-tall building and features several innovative sustainability features. For example, the tower's double-skin facade helps reduce energy use by controlling heat gain and loss, while the building's wind turbines generate renewable energy. The tower also uses a greywater recycling system and an advanced air filtration system to improve indoor air quality.

Bosco Verticale

One more inclusion in the list can be the Bosco Verticale, or "Vertical Forest," in Milan, Italy. Completed in 2014, this pair of residential towers features more than 900 trees and 20,000 plants across its facades. Not only does this help absorb carbon dioxide and reduce the urban heat island effect, but it also provides a unique living experience for residents, who can enjoy the greenery and fresh air even in the heart of the city.

The Capital Tower 

It is a 30-story office building located in Hyderabad, India, with features, like solar panels, energy-efficient lighting, and a green roof that helps in reducing the urban heat island effect. The building also integrates a rainwater harvesting system and an on-site sewage treatment plant, which helps in decreasing water consumption and improving water quality.

Image source - Pixabay

Passive Design Strategies to Achieve Sustainability in High-rises 

Passive design strategies in architecture aim to reduce energy consumption by decreasing the reliance on technical systems. The two essential strategies are natural ventilation and daylighting here. Although, these are pretty much simpler to be achieved in normally heightened structures. The case is not so simple for high-rises. Generally, the maximum light intake scope in high-rises can be through a transparent façade. The route to natural ventilation in high rises is not so easy either. However, some case studies have achieved quite a scope of natural ventilation. One such case study is when Architect Mick Pearce was given the task of designing a large building in Harare, Zimbabwe without using air conditioning due to its high cost. He took inspiration from termite mounds, which use ventilation to regulate their temperature, and created the Eastgate Centre using materials with high thermal mass and a prickly exterior to improve heat loss and gain. The building's low-power fans pull in cool air at night, which is absorbed by concrete blocks and circulated throughout the building. During the day, warm air is vented up through the ceiling and released by chimneys. The Eastgate Centre maintains a comfortable temperature and uses up to 35% less energy than similar buildings in Zimbabwe. Pearce's use of biomimicry has made the Eastgate Centre a symbol of sustainability worldwide, prompting the question of what other innovations we can learn from nature.

Image source - Pixabay

Building Automation Systems for Optimizing Sustainability in High-rises 

A building automation system (BAS) enables an operator to manage and oversee all the interconnected systems of a building using a single interface. This technology allows for centralized control of the building's systems through electronic devices that are connected to a network. BAS can optimize sustainability in high-rise buildings by real-time monitoring of energy consumption and subsequently efficient energy consumption tuned to the needs of occupants in the structure. Not, only that, but the cluster of sensors deployed at the regular interval of water usage flow would help in keeping the check on excessive use. Also, the remote control and motion sensing tech features embedded in light fixtures around the space are proving to be useful in energy-saving measures. 

However, there are challenges associated with installing and maintaining these systems, such as 

  • High initial costs related to product and technology transfer
  • Specialized expertise in this technology is yet to be established in the market
  • Cybersecurity risks still make users skeptical about BAS. 

Read, The Benefits of Having a Smart Home in Architecture and learn how integrating advanced technology in your home can enhance energy efficiency, security, comfort, and convenience. 

Image source - Pixabay

Financing Strategies for Sustainable High-rises

To encourage investment in sustainable high-rise buildings, innovative financing strategies have emerged, providing incentives to all kinds of stakeholders involved in the construction process i.e., building owners, developers, and investors. 

Green bonds, which fund environmentally sustainable projects, energy performance contracts that finance energy efficiency upgrades and are repaid using guaranteed energy savings

PACE financing allows building owners to finance sustainable projects through property taxes. 

Green banks offer a range of financial products for sustainable projects. 

Nowadays, Blockchain being in a trend can be a game-changer in obtaining fractional ownership for users participating in green-financed projects 

These financing strategies help fund sustainable high-rise buildings while generating financial returns and reducing upfront costs.

Successful projects in the USA that have used innovative financing strategies to achieve sustainability include:

New York City's Bank of America Tower

Green bonds were used to fund this LEED Platinum-certified high-rise structure, generating $2.2 billion in investments for sustainable building design and technologies.

Empire State Building in New York 

An energy performance contract was used to refit this famous structure with energy-saving equipment. The improvements cut the building owners' annual energy costs by 38%, generating $4.4 million in savings.

The Bullitt Center in Seattle

A combination of green bonds and PACE financing was used to fund this net-zero energy high-rise. The structure is built to be environmentally friendly in every way, producing all of its energy on-site using solar panels.

Even the current government in India has homed around 25000 crores for green financing, this is quite evidentially proving green financing to be a future-proof way to fuel our sustainable building ambitions. 

Image source - Pixabay

Balancing Environmental and Economic Sustainability

To achieve sustainability in high-rise building design, there needs to be a balance between environmental and economic sustainability. While it's important to reduce the building's impact on the environment, it's equally important to ensure that the project is financially viable in the long term. There is a lag in sustainable aspirations promoted in academics and implementation on reality grounds. Designing for environmental sustainability is a process that needs constant monitoring for improvement instead just one product to go for. It involves detailed real-time visibility into the whole product lifecycle. With software uses trending in the corporate world, Enterprise resource planning software coupled with advanced BIM can help in striking the balance between economics and environmental aspects. It is by using vernacular materials with low embodies energy, deploying green construction measures at every construction intervention, and also then monitoring the final product. On the other hand, economic sustainability involves optimizing building performance, flexibility, and adaptability, and incorporating features that enhance the building's value.

Achieving sustainability in high-rise buildings requires integrating environmental and economic sustainability into the building design process. This involves incorporating sustainable design principles and technologies, conducting a life-cycle analysis to evaluate impacts, monitoring and optimizing building performance, and engaging with stakeholders to meet their needs and contribute to the community's well-being. By taking a comprehensive approach, buildings can reduce their carbon footprint and operating costs, while also providing value to tenants and the surrounding community.

Do you how these sustainable High-rises would be a possibility in the future? Read to know more- 11 Technological Solutions Architects Would be Using in Future

Image source - Pixabay

Improved Indoor Environmental Quality in Sustainable High-rises

With 40% of global carbon emissions attributed to construction practices, air quality is an inevitable metric of sustainable development. Though, a collective effort is required in an urban space. Improving indoor environmental quality (IEQ) in high-rise buildings is also crucial for the health, comfort, and productivity of occupants. Strategies for improving IEQ in high-rises require a differentiated approach with the use of low-emitting materials, technologically regulated HVAC systems, maximizing natural light gain in parallel to minimizing the heat gain, and maintaining a proper standard acoustic measure.

Looking to make your home more sustainable? Check out these 8 eco-friendly ways to reduce your environmental impact and create a more sustainable living space.

Image source - Pixabay

Water and Waste Management Strategies in High-rises

Sustainable water and waste management strategies are important for high-rise buildings to minimize resource consumption impact and cooling operating costs. These high-rises are said to be a heavy water sucker for their cooling and sewage needs. With globally recognized high-raised building products like Burj Khalifa disposing of their excreted waste outside, it gives a sense of pressing need that how much these tall structures are non-compliant with environmental standards. 

To achieve this, sustainable water and waste management strategies for high-rise buildings –

  • Buildings should use water-saving plumbing fixtures. 
  • Rainwater harvesting systems and water recycling methods powered by building automation systems. 
  • The concept of putting up green surfaces on the structures can also be helpful in the reduction of cooling load on the structure plus strategic measures in water conservation. 
  • Waste reduction can be achieved through recycling, composting, and designing for the durability and reuse of building components. On-site waste management systems, such as composting or anaerobic digestion systems, can process organic waste and produce renewable energy. High-rise buildings can also treat wastewater on-site using membrane bioreactors or constructed wetlands to reduce the need for costly off-site wastewater treatment and disposal.

Look at some of the important tips to achieve sustainability in your architectural project 9 Pro Tips to Build a Green and Healthy Home

Image source - Pixabay

Social Sustainability in High-rises

All these glass-faced high-rise buildings in our cities are detaching themselves from the residents of the city aspiring to have a space in it. It needs to achieve social sustainability to ensure that occupants have a good quality of life and a sense of community attachment. Social sustainability refers to a building's ability to support the health, mental well-being, and social cohesion of occupants and surrounding communities. Apart from keeping a tick on all of the basic amenities, these cultures should start reinventing themselves in their aestheticism language. They should be able to define the city’s skyline they stand in plus put up a call to citizens that it belongs to them in terms of its visual value. Even though we humans are now ambitious for extra-terrestrial travel, some basics are still there. Buildings should provide what they are taking away from the space it is constructed on i.e., lost green cover, urban commute, and the land identity on which it will stand for years to come.

Image source - Pixabay

High-rises are sure shot to increase in the future. They will dominate most of the urbanscapes, the reason being because of the growth and limited land resources. Therefore, a sustainable high-rise approach is damn necessary and in Planndesign we regularly blog about these kinds of developments in the AEC sector.

Lastly, take a read to the Green Building Materials: A Comprehensive Guide

and How to Choose the Right Building Material for Your Project

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