Buildings for Earth Day
As architects become more aware of their role in protecting the natural environment, they begin to view "sustainable design" more broadly. In addition to reducing consumption of fossil fuels, successful "green" architecture also improves comfort for building occupants, protects and repairs its immediate surroundings, and makes a positive contribution to the community.
A strong proponent of this broader view is the Committee on the Environment (COTE), a consortium of 5400 architects within the American Institute of Architects. On April 22, Earth Day 2003, COTE announced it sixth annual list of "Top Ten Green Buildings."
In a summary, the jury wrote: "Whether reducing greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change, using stormwater on site to eliminate run-off, or preserving wetlands, these buildings also promise to enhance the level of comfort and amenity for the people who inhabit them."
One of the Top Ten is the Steinhude Sea Recreation Facility on the northern German coast near Hannover, designed by Randall Stout Architects for EXPO 2000. The expo theme of "Man, Nature, Environment" inspired the intriguing structure that is fully self-sustaining with minimal impact on the surrounding island ecosystem. Prefabrication of the building in a nearby factory minimized both construction waste and damage to the sensitive area by heavy equipment.
Energy self-sufficiency is accomplished via photovoltaic panels, solar hot water collectors, a seed oil-fueled cogeneration micro turbine, daylighting, natural ventilation, passive solar heating, building automation, and high-performance materials. These systems produce excess electricity to sell back to the utility grid.
A more urban project in the Top Ten is the Herman Miller Marketplace in Grand Rapids, Michigan, by Integrated Architecture. Located next to a McDonald's restaurant, this office space demonstrates that "green" prefabricated system buildings can be woven successfully into commercial developments.
The workplace is among the nation's first design/build gold-rated LEED-certified buildings. Its operational costs are becoming a national benchmark for energy-efficient designs. Sustainable materials used throughout the building include recycled carpet and wallboard made from agricultural fiber waste.
The COTE jury said the Herman Miller Marketplace, with its workplace amenities and indoor air quality, make "...a promising prototype for an economically viable, environmentally sensitive, and sustainable solution in the speculative office market."
A residential project in the Top Ten list is the Wine Creek Road House in Healdsburg, California by Siegel & Strain Architects. Its single-gable structure spans living and sleeping areas separated by an open breezeway, reflecting the spirit and construction of local vernacular buildings. The house takes maximum advantage of the site and climate to maintain comfort with minimum energy use by natural ventilation through the thin building section, thermal mass to moderate temperature swings, and high insulation.
The Chicago Center for Green Technology by Farr Associates demonstrates how the overhaul of a blighted and unsafe industrial site can help to rebuild a community. The once vandalized, decrepit building now houses a high-tech factory and educates the public on sustainability and community gardening.
The design achieved the ambitious platinum LEED rating. It consumes 50 percent less energy than comparable buildings and used 36 percent recycled materials in its construction. It manages all stormwater on site, collecting rainwater for irrigation. The architects strived to use every design feature in multiple ways. Photovoltaic panels are also sun shades; a public bench is also a major heating duct; and entrances provide sun protection.
Two buildings on the COTE Top Ten list have already been featured in ArchitectureWeek. They are Colorado Court by Pugh Scarpa Kodama and the
Cusano Environmental Education Center by Susan Maxman & Partners, Ltd. Others on the list include: the Argonne Child Development Center by 450 Architects; Fisher Pavilion by the Miller|Hull Partnership; the Hidden Villa Hostel & Summer Camp by Arkin Tilt Architects; and the San Mateo County Sheriff's Forensic Laboratory and Coroner's Office by Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum.
The panel of jurors included: Peter Bohlin, FAIA, of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson; Carol Ross Barney, FAIA, of Ross Barney + Jankowsky; Drury Crawley, FAIA, U.S. Department of Energy; Jacqueline Rose, AIA, Environmental Protection Agency; and Douglas Kelbaugh, FAIA, University of Michigan.
One of the Top Ten Green Buildings selected by COTE to celebrate Earth Day 2003 is the Steinhude Sea Recreation Facility, designed by Randall Stout Architects.
Photo: Peter Hubbe
The Herman Miller Marketplace by Integrated Architecture.
Photo: Kevin Beswick, Corbin Design, Jeff Dykehouse
The Wine Creek Road House by Siegel & Strain Architects.
Photo: J.D. Peterson
The Chicago Center for Green Technology by Farr Associates.
Photo: Kevin Pierce, Farr Associates
Click on thumbnail images
to view full-size pictures.