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Tuesday, 29 April 2014

America's Top 10 Green Buildings of 2014


 The American Institute of Architects' committee on the Environment selects ten buildings each year as the best in innovation, sustainability, green design and smart construction. This tradition has been going on since 1997. The projects vary in their types and purposes, so often the top ten cover a variety of ideas, methodologies and approaches. 
From renewable energy to passive energy system to modular architecture to modern materials to smart orientation and positioning, these buildings introduce the best modern technologies with the hopes to start the charge to a sustainable and smart cities.

This year the event took place on the 22th of April in Washington D.C., however, the awards celebration will happen at Chicago at the AIA National Convention and Design Exposition. For those (like me) who won't have the chance to attend the expo here are this year's winners.



1. The Arizona State University Student Health Building

Location: Arizona




The project transforms the structure from an outdated, inefficient and sterile clinic to a modern state-of-the-art construction. The new facility is scores an energy performance is 49% higher than the standard and exceeds the expectations and target of the 2030 challenge.

The health facility is now more organised and welcoming, which is a strong criteria when talking about people's willingness to entrust their health into somebody's hands.

The project received a LEED platinum certification.

2. Bud Clark Commons

Location: Portland, Oregon




This building is the core of Portland's 10-year plan to combat homelessness. It provides a number of services to help homeless individuals find permanent accommodation and turn their lives for the better.

The commons offers a 90-bed temporary shelter and a 130 completely furnished and energy efficient studio apartments for those seeking permanent shelter. Additionally, there is a day centre, with it's own public courtyard and access to support services.

The design aims to establish a welcoming structure and trust-worthy sanctuary to those in greatest need.

The whole complex features greywater recycling systems, stormwater collection units, solar powered hot water and high-performance construction, which alone saves 60 thousand dollars each year.

3. Bushwick Inlet Park

Location: Brooklyn, NYC



The project is the starting point of the transformation process of the Greenfront – Williamsburg waterfrom. The current industrial strip, left to the time and elements is to become a multipurpose public park with numerous facilities open to the people.

Playfields, public meeting rooms, classrooms and maintanence facilities have been integrated into the site, including a 100% public open green hill to the western side of the park. The hill offers tremendous views of Manhattan. Bellow the green roof are located a number of building systems like rainwater harvest and storage, drip irrigation, ground source heat pump wells and et cetera. The building will gain fifty percent of it's energy via solar panels.

4. Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building

Location: Portland, Oregon




This renovation process aimed to create on of the top performing constructions in energy efficiency in the entire country, while preserving it's historical assets and even exposing parts of the original building. The construction is a model to be applied for U.S. General Services Administration in the entire country.

The previously energy-draining ancient, now tops the United States in innovative, sustainable building. It integrates a complex solar harvesting system along with rainwater collection and smartly orientated façade to capture the most sunlight and reduce lighting costs.

5. Gateway Center – SUNY-ESF College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry

Location: Syracuse, NYC




This building is of significant importance, as the organisation symobileses the national stewardship towards environmental conservation.

It bears the LEED platinum certification. The project aims to reduce carbon footprint by utilizing renewable energy production methodologies. The design incorporates passive solar harnessing, through it's form, along a combined power and heat plant.

The roof is densely covered in plants, which is to provide for practical teaching environment and research site.

The resource systems provide 60% of the total heating consumption and 20% of the power needs annually.

6. John and Frances Angelos Law Centre

Location: Baltimore





With this project, the University of Baltimore makes it's first step to introduce sustainable architecture and join the fight against global warming emissions.

The Law Center is highly sophisticated and innovative in it's design. The project focuses on harnessing the free energy provided by the environment and lower it's reliance on energy resources, artificial lighting and forced ventilation.

7. Sustainability Treehouse

Location: Glen Jean, West Virginia






Possibly the most interesting project to the general public is the large treehouse, erected in the forests of the Summit Bechtel Reserve.

The structure aims to provide a unique visitor experience, while serving as an educational platform for everybody.

The building features indoor and outdoor platforms, which allow any visitor to spectate and explore the eco-system in all levels above the ground.

Integrating in it's system, solar, wind and water harnessing technology, the treehouse is highly efficient and almost self-dependent from externally produced resources.

8. The David and Lucile Pickard Foundation Headquarters

Location: Los Altos, California





The foundation is a rally point that brings together employees, partners and grant clients together to combine forces in a joint effort to establish broad organizational sustainability.

The location is tied with the the foundation for the past fifty years, so it makes a logical case to erect the structure at Los Altos.

Also, “the hights”, as an English translation to the Spanish name, brings a needed doze of symbolism as sustainability should be the hight the entire world strives to achieve.

Since the foundation expanded over the years, it's operations have been scattered throughout the city for about twenty years. This project aims to match the organisation's global aims and bring everybody together for the common cause.

The building itself is estimated to see the company through this century and possibly into the next, before a major update is required.

9. U.S Land Port Of Entry

Location: Minnesota-Canadian Border





This large complex of three separate structures is to accommodate the U.S. Customs and Boarders Protection services along with the federal agencies enforcing border security and control.

The site is constructed in a way to secure a micro-climate to the workers, while they perform their outdoor duties. It protects the entire complex from seasonal winds and allows access to daylight in 91% of the work areas.

Smart design addresses all the site and purpose specific issues of the structures. Of all materials, used in the construction, 22% come from recycling plants.

10. Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse

Location: Great Junction, Colorado





This renovation project tackles two problems at the same time. The Apsinall Federal Building dates back to 1918 and as such, it's a major historical asset of the United States. The construction aimed to preserve it's value as a nearly century old building, but bring it to the 21st century.

The Wayne N. Aspinall Building features a roof 123 kW photovoltaic array, passive geo-exchange system, energy recovery systems, LED lighting.

The design is so successful, it brought the building on the top of the chain in American sustainable, historical constructions, marking one of the highest scores in both green building and renovation of landmark assets.