Ecological construction: Western and Russian experience

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“Green building” appeared not so long ago, however, in the last 10-15 years it has been developing rapidly and becoming more and more popular all over the world. The reason is that new technologies and industrial activities of people have led to the deterioration of the planet’s ecology..

As a result, scientists and engineers around the world began to look for ways to reduce the harmful effects of humans on the environment. One of the directions is the so-called “green” construction, based on the principles of energy conservation and environmental friendliness. Its goal was to provide comfortable and safe living in homes..

Green building history

The first buildings built using environmentally friendly materials and technologies appeared in the 70s of the 20th century in the United States. However, they did not receive wide distribution of rhinestones. The purpose of the construction of the first eco-houses was to demonstrate the efficiency and benefits of such buildings.

The impetus for the active construction of such “green” houses was the support of the principles of green construction at the level of government.

Already in the 90s of the 20th century, the first “green” building standards (British BREEAM and American LEED) were developed, which laid the foundation for a new direction in construction.

In 2002, the World Green Building Council was established with the aim of influencing the international real estate market and implementing environmental building assessment systems in construction, as well as developing special educational programs and promoting the development of green building ideas around the world..

Currently, the WGBC includes more than 90 councils working in selected countries, including the Russian Green Building Council (RuGBC), officially registered in 2009.

The most outstanding green buildings in the world

In nearly 40 years of sustainable building construction, many green homes have been built around the world. We will look at the most outstanding objects built using advanced environmentally friendly technologies, which are not only examples of environmental friendliness, but also stand out for their architectural and engineering solutions..

Hearst Tower – savings and safety

The 182 meter high Hearst Tower, which houses the headquarters of the renowned publishing house Esquire and Cosmopolitan, was built in downtown New York using green technologies. The building has been awarded the LEED Gold certification, which confirms its environmental friendliness, safety and high level of energy savings.


Hearst Tower.

The skyscraper was built in 2006 on the basis of an old building, erected in 1928. The new office was named after the founder of the company, William Hirst. The author of the project was the famous architect Norman Foster.

Hearst Tower has 46 floors and 80,000 sq. m of office space.

The design feature is that the building consists of special triangular frame patterns (they are also called diagrid), which made it possible to save up to 20% of materials already during the construction process, compared to if a classic steel frame was used.

Hearst Tower is also notable for being the first green skyscraper in New York City to incorporate a number of environmental innovations..

A system for collecting rainwater is installed on the roof of the skyscraper, which is then collected through a system of pipes in a tank installed in the basement. This water is used for fountains, plant watering and cooling systems.

About 90% of the steel structures used in construction contain recycled materials (i.e. construction is based mainly on recycled materials).

The creators are proud that all materials used in the construction and interior decoration are non-toxic and completely safe for both human health and the environment. And this is very important for the thousands of people working at the Hirst Corporation..

The Hearst Tower atrium is built of limestone, which has a high thermal conductivity. Special polyethylene pipes with water are installed in the floor, which provide quick cooling of the room in summer and replace the heating system in winter.

Overall, this skyscraper is designed to use 26% less energy in operation than the current minimum requirement for New York City. There is an energy saving system based on the maximum use of sunlight during the day: huge windows and a system of sensors are installed that automatically regulate the on / off of artificial lighting. The glazing area is over 1 mile. Each glass panel is 4 stories high. Of course, this is not a simple glass, but an armored one with a special coating that transmits light, but reflects invisible infrared radiation..

The Hearst Tower is a great example of the effective use of green technologies. Here, energy-saving technologies are combined with environmentally friendly building materials and innovative finds, creating the most comfortable conditions for people and minimizing the harmful effect on nature.

Taipei 101 is the tallest green skyscraper

Taiwanese architects can rightfully be proud of their “green” skyscraper “Taipei 101”, built in the capital of the state. This building was the first skyscraper to receive LEED Platinum certification, and it still holds the title of the tallest “green” skyscraper in the world (tower height – 509.2 m).

Taipei 101 is owned by the Taipei Finance Corporation. It got its name for a reason: 101 is the number of floors in the building, not counting another 5 additional underground floors. The design is based on glass, aluminum and steel. According to experts, this is one of the most reliable modern skyscrapers. The walls of the building are supported by 380 concrete supports, which are buried 80 meters into the ground to give the entire structure maximum stability. Reliable protection against earthquakes is also provided: the seismic resistance of the “green” skyscraper is provided by a special 660-ton steel ball installed between the 87th and 91st floors.


Thaipei 101.

Taipei 101 was built in 2003, but in 2007 a set of works was carried out to bring the skyscraper in compliance with environmental standards. The building was improved by specialists from EcoTech International, Siemens Building Technologies and Steven Leach Associates. The reconstruction took 3 years. As a result, the cooling system was completely replaced and the energy consumption system was renewed. This made it possible to cut electricity costs by a third (almost $ 700,000 in savings). Carbon dioxide emissions have been cut by 40%. In addition, measures were taken to reduce the generated waste..

The efforts of building owners and architects were not in vain: in August 2011, their achievements in the field of environmental friendliness and energy efficiency were noted by experts of the international certification system for green buildings LEED.

Bank of America Tower – a celebration of green innovation

The Bank of America building is also worthy to be included in the list of unique “green” buildings in the world, this project includes about 10 innovative solutions to reduce the harmful impact on nature.

Bank of America Tower was built in 2007 in New York, its height is 366 meters with a spire, without a spire about 290 meters. The building contains 54 floors, while the total area of ​​internal premises is about 200 thousand square meters..

In the construction of the tower, materials that are harmless to human health and the environment were used, including recycled industrial waste. For example, the foundation is made of concrete with 55% slag, which is a waste of metallurgy. In addition to being a cheap material that is not inferior in its properties to classical cement, it is also environmentally friendly. It does not require combustion of oxygen for its manufacture, and, consequently, excess carbon dioxide does not enter the atmosphere..


Bank of america tower.

The skyscraper also saves water and uses a range of modern energy-saving technologies, including green air conditioning and heating systems..

The designers paid special attention to the comfort of people. Tall windows that provide natural light with automatic dimming not only save energy, but also work in natural light. There are special sensors that measure the level of carbon dioxide in the air. When a critical level is reached, the ventilation system is automatically triggered to provide fresh air. The building also has a modern air purification system – special filters remove dust, gases and other hazardous substances.

Of course, one cannot fail to mention a special cooling system based on the so-called “ice batteries”, which use the principle of converting water into ice and ice into water. It is noteworthy that “ice batteries” are not a unique modern development, but, on the contrary, a return to old technologies. They have been around for over 150 years and have been used to reduce indoor temperatures when modern air conditioners were not available. However, unlike air conditioners, such batteries do not require a lot of energy and do not pollute the air..

Two systems are used to save water: collecting rainwater for technical needs and using waterless toilets. According to experts, this makes it possible to save about 8 million gallons of water per year..

The introduction of cutting-edge innovations in the field of “green” construction has not gone unnoticed. In October 2011, the Bank of America building became the first skyscraper in the United States to receive LEED Platinum certification..

Pearl River Tower – tallest building zero

In 2010, China built the largest “zero house” in the world, called the “Pearl River Tower” (“Pearl River”). The 310m high tower was designed by American engineers using the most modern environmental developments.

A distinctive feature of this building is that it is completely autonomous and provides itself with energy. It is the first building in the world to have wind turbines installed inside. For these purposes, two technical floors were set aside. In this case, air is supplied to the power plant through openings in the facade. The facade also generates energy from photovoltaic panels.


Pearl river tower.

Special windows not only store energy, but also protect the building itself from overheating, creating the most comfortable conditions inside the building and saving energy on air conditioning. The blinds on the windows are also special: they automatically change their angle to ensure optimal lighting throughout the day.

A cooling system is provided in the construction of the floors – cold water flows through special pipes, which ensures rapid air conditioning in the premises. Water for this system comes from the roof, where special rainwater collectors are installed.

Pearl River Tower not only boasts cutting-edge environmental innovation, but also unique design. The building is built in the shape of a huge sail, while it has excellent stability and is able to withstand a strong earthquake.

Development of the global eco-hotel industry

New buildings are not the only ones that can be “green”. Almost any building can be retrofitted and green technologies can be introduced to help optimize energy use and reduce environmental impact. This is the path taken by the owners of eco-hotels, which have been receiving tourists in Europe and the USA for more than two decades..

The first eco-hotels arose in the jungles of Costa Rica and Indonesia and were environmentally friendly housing that was built exclusively from natural materials. Later, hotel owners in many large cities began to introduce “green” technologies to improve living conditions and reduce the harmful effects on nature. ?? To be rightfully called an eco-hotel, housing must meet several criteria:

  1. High environmental sustainability.
  2. Dependence on the natural environment.
  3. Contributing to the protection of nature.
  4. Taking into account the cultural characteristics of the area.
  5. Economic returns to the local community.

In order to meet these criteria, a building must have the following characteristics:

  • the use of non-toxic cleaning agents and washing powders;
  • non-smoking rooms are mandatory;
  • bed linen and mattresses should be made from natural organic materials (mainly cotton);
  • use of energy saving technologies;
  • energy production based on renewable energy sources;
  • cooking from natural, locally grown foods;
  • the presence of a natural air conditioning and ventilation system (without the use of air conditioners);
  • saving water by reusing it for technical needs.

Currently, hundreds of environmentally friendly hotels in Europe and the United States meet all these requirements. Among the most famous are the following:

  • Sunwing Resort Kallithea (Greece, Rhodes);
  • Jardim Atlantico (Portugal, Madeira Island);
  • Coworth Park (UK);
  • Lodge at Sun Ranch (USA, Montana);
  • Proximity Hotel (USA, North Carolina);
  • Orchard Garden (USA, San Francisco) and others.

Features of Russian “green” construction

In Russia, the principles of “green” construction are just beginning to be actively implemented. In fact, the country was one of the last among developed countries to pay attention to this industry..

However, despite the short history of green building, we already have some success..

For example, last year in Moscow, the American company Hines built the first “green” office – a 14-storey building of the Dukat Place 111 business center. The building itself was built in 2005 and then reequipped in accordance with environmental standards.

The business center is the first building to be certified “Very Good” under the Breeam environmental standard. The main modern environmental technologies are used here:

  • Energy-saving lamps.
  • Automatic lighting control.
  • Optimization of air conditioning, ventilation, plumbing and elevators.
  • A full cycle of waste disposal is organized, including recycling of paper, glass, plastic, metal, batteries, etc..
  • Water sensors and meters, the purpose of which is to monitor and optimize water consumption.

All this allowed to reduce costs, improve the environmental situation in offices and reduce CO emissions.2.

In September 2011, the first “active house” in the country was put into operation in the Naro-Fominsk district in the Moscow region. This house was built by the Danish company Velux, taking into account the latest developments in ecological construction, it is completely self-sufficient in energy and does not depend on external sources. The cost of the project was about 675 thousand euros. Technologies used in construction:

  • Facade that can independently change its configuration (opens and closes) depending on the needs of residents and weather conditions.
  • The use of so-called “smart” ventilation based on air recuperation.
  • Installation of energy efficient windows that store heat and solar energy and provide 50% of the building’s total heat demand.
  • Solar panels on the roof.
  • Making the most of natural light.
  • Using solar water heaters and heat pump.

According to engineers, the “active” house near Moscow will generate electricity, which will be fully sufficient for all the needs of the building, and not only. Even surplus energy is expected, which over 30 years of operation will be enough to cover the production costs of all building materials used to build a house..

In addition to the already implemented projects, at present in Russia several “green” buildings are under construction or design. Each project uses advanced developments and optimal environmental solutions. Among them:

  • Multi-storey elite residential complex Barkli Park in Moscow. (Under construction, commissioning is scheduled for summer 2012).
  • Outlet Village Belaya Dacha is a large shopping mall located in the south-east of Moscow. This is the first outlet center in Russia. The area of ​​the complex is 38 thousand sq. m. (under construction, commissioning is scheduled for March 2012).
  • “Office center on the bypass channel” in St. Petersburg. The project is applying for the LEED Gold Certificate.
  • Eco-city in Yakutia. This is an unprecedented project that will take many years to complete. Delivery of the city is scheduled for 2020. Eco-city area will be about 2 million square meters. m., more than 100 thousand people will be able to live in it. The uniqueness of the project is that the city will be covered with a glass dome, which will protect it from external conditions, including unpleasant weather conditions.

Green building in Russia – prospects

According to experts, now in Russia there are all the prerequisites and conditions for the development of “green” construction. That is why such projects have been actively developed and implemented in recent years. If the first eco-buildings were erected mainly according to the projects of Western engineers, now domestic experts are actively involved in this and offer their ideas..

The rapidly growing demand for environmentally friendly houses in the country also contributes to the development of this direction in construction. For construction companies, the incentive to erect “green” buildings, both commercial and residential, is the saving of resources during the construction and operation of the building..

However, there are also a number of constraining factors. Russian developers point out that the active introduction of eco-technologies is hindered by the lack of appropriate regulatory documents that would regulate this industry. In addition, it is necessary to unite and harmonize domestic and world environmental standards in construction. (Note that the Russian Federation currently has a system of voluntary environmental certification “Green Standards”, approved in 2010).

Green building is the engine of an innovative economy that contributes to the formation of a healthy society, improving the quality of life and the state of the environment.

And, of course, Russia should everywhere develop the production of building materials used in the construction of “green” houses. This applies to concrete, modern thermal insulation materials, steel structures, and recycling of used materials and industrial waste..

According to leading Western experts, Russia from the introduction of green building technologies will receive not only standard benefits in the form of reduced energy costs, resource savings and a reduction in harmful effects on the environment, but also a natural growth of the country’s economy due to an increase in industrial production and the introduction of innovative technologies.

Green building is the engine of an innovative economy that contributes to the formation of a healthy society, an improvement in the quality of life and the state of the environment. If Russia comprehensively implements the principles of ecological construction, then this will bear fruit in the coming years..

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