29 NOV 2017
From Abu Dhabi to the City of London Bloombergs new European HQ and the ripple effect of sustainable
Bloomberg’s new European headquarters in London was described as the world’s most sustainable building when it was unveiled last month.
The 3.2 acre site in London’s financial district, designed by architects Foster + Partners, cost an estimated £1bn according to some media reports. The building will use about 70% less water and one third less energy and associated carbon emissions, than an average office building, said Bloomberg, a news and information provider.
The building generates its own power from gas and re-uses “waste heat” to heat the building in the winter and cool it by circulating chilled water in the summer. It captures rainwater on the roof and re-uses it in the building, while its airplane-style “vacuum flush” toilets minimise water use.
“Flaps” on the outside of the building open and close, letting it breathe while reducing noise from outside.
According to Bloomberg, the building scored 98.5% when judged by BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), a widely-used assessment method for sustainability in buildings.
The new Bloomberg building isn’t an isolated development, of course. It’s the natural progression of an iterative process of learning and incorporating new techniques and materials.
Foster & Partners was also the architect of the first phase of Masdar City – home to one of the world’s largest clusters of high performance buildings. Masdar City has become a “greenprint” for sustainable design, drawing on both passive and active design techniques to minimise water and energy use. While technology has advanced since the project was designed, its capacity to demonstrate the potential of sustainable design remains constant.
10 years later, sustainable urban design is now mainstream and part of business as usual among developed nations. In arid climates such as the Middle East, the impact of sustainability measures can be dramatic. Up to 80% of energy in Middle East countries is consumed by buildings alone – this can be cut by 30% with “quick win”, low cost measures.
It is little wonder that sustainable design is at the heart of ambitious development plans across the region, including Saudi Arabia, which last month announced plans to build a $500 billion city, known as NEOM (short for “new future”), which will get all its power from renewable energy.
Sustainable design can also provide solutions to challenges and natural disasters associated with climate change. In China, for instance, a pilot “sponge cities” project is seeking to minimise the threat of floods through measures such as covering rooftops with plants and permeable pavements that store excess water, as well as the creation of wetland reservoirs. Such ideas could be adopted by flood-prone cities across the world.
Collaboration, partnership and knowledge sharing is vital to ensure that sustainable design (including new technology, approaches to design and engineering) continues to spread. Brick by brick.