Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Strategies for Sustainable High-Rise Design

By Sean Williamson

After reviewing some case studies relating to hurricane resistance, I decided to take a look into sustainable high-rise design. It is projected by the year 2030, 5 billion people will live in urban areas all across the world (United Nations, 2001). In 1950, the percentage of people living in urban areas was 30 percent. In 2000, this percentage rose to 47 percent. Come 2030, it is estimated that 60 percent of the world’s population will live in an urban area. “Energy shortage, global warming, urban sprawl, air pollution, overflowing landfills, water shortage, disease, and global conflict will be the legacy of the twenty-first century unless we move quickly towards the notion and implementation of sustainability” (Ali & Armstrong).

The principal design factors that are crucial for achieving a high performance tall building are site context, environment, structure and use of materials, energy consumption, use of water, ecological balance, community development, etc. Since the beginning of the industrial age in 1830,
building technology has advanced from monolithic structures with marginally controlled passive
environments to glass-enclosed skeletal frames with intelligent robotic servicing. Much of this change occurred after 1940 with proliferation of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems (Bachman, 2003).

There are many strategies that can be implemented for sustainable high-rise design. Some of these strategies include passive solar gain, structure and material selection, facade technology, harnessing both solar and wind energy, combined heat and power systems, and fuel cells. There are other approaches one can take in designing a sustainable high-rise tower. For example, rainwater collection, biomass energy (growing plants as a source of energy), biomass fuel, and geothermal energy are sustainable techniques that may also be implemented.

Innovative building technologies such as computer-based smart or intelligent building systems can
play a major role in managing energy usage. The increasing reliance on computer technology has led to achieving sustainable functioning skyscrapers. The Building Management System (BMS) mentioned earlier is a centralized control system that manages the operations of various building systems such as fire protection, security, communication networks, elevators, HVAC systems, etc. The environmental data collection and control system is usually incorporated within the BMS which is used to control more passive features like opening windows or closing a shading device (Ali & Armstrong). If properly incorporated into the design, BMS systems can drastically reduce the amount of energy structures use. 

Figure1: An actual example of sustainable high-rise techniques

Works Cited

Ali, M., & Armstrong, P. (2008). Overview of Sustainable Design Factors in High-Rise Buildings. 1-10. Retrieved November 11, 2014, from
 BACHMAN, L. R. (2003). Integrated Buildings: The Systems Basis of Architecture. John Wiley & Sons. Inc. Hoboken, NJ. pp. 402-404.
 UNITED NATIONS (2001). Future World Population Growth to be Concentrated in Urban Areas. United Nations Population Division Report. November.

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