As people become more concerned about the state of the environment, all industries are making efforts to go green. Though progress has been made across the board, architecture is an industry that has enjoyed significant success. All over the world, cities are building eco-friendly structures and renovating their existing buildings in order to lessen the strain on the environment. To design a green structure, architects rely on the rating system developed by the United States Green Building Council, which is known as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Below are three of the greenest buildings in the United States, as determined by the LEED rating system.
Chicago’s Aqua Tower is a skyscraper that exceeds LEED standards with its innovative and environmentally friendly design and sustainability. The building is home to the Radisson Blu Aqua, one of the more luxurious Chicago hotels, as well as several offices and retailers. The building’s structure is fluid and natural, with striking curved balconies that resemble waves. However, these appealing balconies aren’t just for show. In reality, the balconies are structured to maximize the shade for the areas below them, which allows the building to remain cooler during the summer. The building also features a rainwater collection system and energy efficient lighting on the interior.
The Natural History Museum of Utah is on track to receive LEED gold certification within the next two years. With its eco-friendly design and high level of energy efficiency, this museum is one of the greenest places in the United States. The building’s structure includes white roofing in order to reduce heat absorption, as well as solar panels to provide the museum with natural power. The Natural History Museum of Utah also utilizes a rainwater collection system, water efficient landscaping and high efficiency plumbing to reduce water consumption. To limit its use of electricity, the museum uses motion detectors for its interior lighting, and it is constructed with plenty of access to natural light.
NEE is a consulting firm that works with companies seeking to reduce their environmental footprint using green technology and innovation. To demonstrate certain eco-friendly strategies to its clients, NEE uses its main office building as an example. The building, which is set to earn the highest level of certification from LEED, utilizes both photovoltaic solar panels and geothermal heat as sources of green energy. It also includes a rain garden that requires no irrigation and includes only native plants. Furthermore, all of the building’s lighting systems operate using occupancy detection sensors, and all windows are double-paned for maximum cooling efficiency.
These buildings represent just a few of the green structures currently operating in the United States. In fact, as many as 7,800 buildings in the country have received some level of certification from LEED. Nonetheless, there are still many structures in existence that fail to do their part to protect the environment. To make the world a greener place, all architects must learn from the example set by these three innovative structures.
Photos: Aqua Tower, Natural History Museum of Utah, New England Environmental
About the Author: Grady Winston is an avid writer and Internet entrepreneur from Indianapolis. He has worked in the fields of technology, business, marketing and advertising, implementing multiple creative projects and solutions for a range of clients. To see more of his work, visit his website, www.gradywinston.blogspot.com.