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Expert highlights role of tall buildings

Dubai, January 23, 2008

Significant gains can be made in efforts to combat global warming by reducing energy use and improving energy efficiency in tall buildings, says an expert. 

The right mix of appropriate design and greater use of energy saving technologies can substantially reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the building sector which accounts for 30 to 40 per cent of global energy use, said the world’s top tall building expert.

“With rapid urban development worldwide, dense and more concentrated cities are widely seen now as an essential part of a more sustainable way of life,” said Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) executive director Antony Wood.

“These dense, smaller-footprint cities can cut energy consumption and climate-change emissions by reducing the suburban spread of cities and therefore the need for extensive transportation and infrastructure networks.

“In this regard, tall buildings play a key role in creating denser cities by accommodating more people on smaller parcels of land and therefore reduce the overall impact of buildings upon the environment and upon the world’s climate,” he added.

To carry out a truly socially-sustainable urban agenda, however, tall buildings need to better respond to environmental concerns and their specific urban locations.

According to Wood, tall buildings have an opportunity to reinvent themselves to address the need for both a dense and sustainable city by creating truly vibrant, mixed-use facilities within both the building and the city as a whole.

“Tall buildings need to innovate beyond their standard functions: office, residential, and hotel space – that account for around 95 per cent of space in tall buildings worldwide – to include more sustainable functions,” he said.

For Example, a recent research conducted by the CTBUH into alternative design approaches has resulted in a number of innovative buildings forms such as vertical farms to help alleviate the environmental problems of agricultural imports, and vertical aquifers to maximize rainwater capture which will help address the growing global decline of water resources.

Tall buildings also need to accommodate more social-communal spaces within them, such as skygardens and skyplazas.

In addition, future tall buildings should be focused on sustainability from initial design onwards, as well as incorporating sustainable technologies.

“While there are those who believe that the embodied energies involved in tall buildings combined with the impact on the urban realm, make them inherently anti-environmental, I believe that the opposite is true,” he said.

“The biggest impact on a building’s energy consumption is the fundamental early decisions that are taken in the building’s design, in respect of size, form, shape, skin and the positioning of cores etc - all relative to the environment: sun, wind, light. Moreover, tall buildings provide a great potential for harnessing wind energy; more efficient energy production and distribution systems and an increased access to view, light and air.”

In the Gulf region which is experiencing some of the world’s fastest growth rates in construction, the need for more sustainable patterns of life as a response is becoming more and more critical. 

According to recent studies, “The construction boom in the Gulf region alone has reached new heights, with 2,837 projects estimated to be worth in excess of Dh8.8 trillion ($2.4 trillion) now underway. Moreover, this expansion of the construction sector and associated industries is expected to continue till 2030.

In general, green buildings provide financial benefits that conventional buildings do not. On average, green buildings use 20 to 30 per cent less energy than conventional buildings - a saving of about Dh220.000 ($60.000) per year for a 100,000 square foot building.

A recent report from Massachu


Tags: CO2 | tall buildings | CTBUH |

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