6 Net Zero Buildings from Around the World - A Project Showcase
At the beginning of this month we announced the return of The Green Real Estate 2022 with the theme ‘Beyond Net Zero’. In anticipation of this event where we will explore what it means to rethink our buildings beyond reducing their environmental footprint, beyond maximizing their efficiency and beyond simply balancing their impact we have been exploring the various aspects of net zero buildings.
Now that we have covered strategies on how to achieve such a project, in this article we will look at some concrete examples of net zero buildings. We feature global projects from each continent with a range of buildings from office to residential houses. Let's discover the various ways buildings can be considered net zero with this exemplary showcase of constructed buildings or in buildings in progress.
The Floating Office – Rotterdam, Holland
By Powerhouse Company
To achieve their net zero objective the award-winning architecture office Powerhouse Company decided to design their own office as a floating office. Due to climate change and the rise of water levels globally, this project would be able to assist in resolving this problem. By reaching energy positive and CO2 negative, The Floating Office, inaugurated in September 2021 could be the beginning of a major undertaking in the building sector.
To achieve its outstanding performance, the building is fitted with a water-cooling system (using the Rijnhaven basin water) and a green roof: including solar panels on one side and vegetation on the other.
To implement a circular economy approach, its structure was made with wood and constructed off site. It was then assembled at the basin meaning that the building could easily be dismantled and re-used for other uses or in other locations if needed.
No Footprint House – Ojochal, Costa Rica
The A-01 architecture studio designed a prefabricated house in Costa Rica, as a prototype. They hope to develop several future Net-Zero Carbon Houses based on this project.
With the climate being tropical, the firm decided to design this home using passive strategies such using natural ventilation and solar shading. The house’ aestetic inclined roof also stops the direct impact of the sun and drains water from precipitation. To suit tastes of the user, the wood façade panels can be moved to adapt the view, augment or reduce air flows and change the exposure. The wooden slats also are slanted to provide shade and coolness in the house.
The house is powered mostly by renewable resources from the public water and energy grid, for the rest it is fitted with solar panels on the top of the roof.
The company hopes to reach a 60 percent reduction of carbon emissions or even total carbon neutrality. At present they’ve already reached 40 percent less emission than a typical house.
Centennial College’s A Block Expansion – Toronto, Canada
Centennial College contracted design practice firm Dialog to expand their school by 150,000 gross square feet. They commited to be at least LEED Gold Standard and a Net Zero or even a Net Positive building. They surpassed their goal by succeeding in being certified Zero Carbon under the Canada Green Building Council’s Zero Carbon Building Standard v1.
The project also had an objective to include Indigenous values in the architecture and design of the building. They mostly used wood products, instead of steel or concrete, manufactured locally.
To achieve Net Zero Carbon Building, the expansion is designed to store thousands of tonnes of carbon and use energy provided by clean power.
Currently under construction the project is set to open by January 2023, in the meantime we can appreciate the renders of the future net zero building.
Cura – Ginza, Tokyo, Japan
By Doone Silver Kerr
Doone Silver Kerr partnered with Grosvenor (Urban property) to build Japan's first net zero ready commercial high-rise buildings. Located in the Ginza district of Tokyo this building includes retail and office spaces.
To reduce carbon emission during the demolition of the former building and achieve carbon neutrality for the future one, 98% of the waste generated has been recycled. Proving that net zero carbon approach to building starts from considering the demolition of the old one up until the operation and future demolition of the new one.
In building this commercial site, manufacturers are using low CO2 concrete for the structure and as little transport as they can. Its construction is expected to be complete in December 2022 and the building is due to achieve net zero carbon status by 2030.
69 Robertson Street - Brisbane, Australia
By Floth and Mondo Architects
Floth Sustainable Building Consultants took the initiative to build their own net zero office by teaming up with Mondo Architects, in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley in August 2015.
In order to build their own vision of a carbon neutral building office, they decided to use responsible building materials and sustainable products. They also reused materials from the previous house demolition and incorporated thermally insulated construction strategies.
They introduced plants that only thrive without additional irrigation than rainwater and an outdoor air system which improves indoor air quality by 50%. They also prioritized natural lighting, but integrated balconies for shading, and for the less sunny periods, added LED lighting.
For everything related to energy supply, they opted for a photovoltaic roof and a gas-boosted solar hot water system.
Through these efforts they have achieved an impressive 53% carbon emission reduction during the process of demolition, construction and life of the building.
The Vleihuis Development – Linden, Johannesburg, South Africa
By Solid Green Consulting
Bringing back indigenous landscapes to South African architecture, Solid Green Consulting combines wildlands with sustainability by building new residential units.
Using local materials and renewable resources, the company managed to obtain the triple Net-Zero certifications (Carbon, Water and Ecology) from the Green Building Council of South Africa.
To achieve this they have developed an aquaculture and a wildlife sanctuary watered by stored and filtered rainwater. As drinkable water they “filter water down to ten microns through a micron screen filter and then purify it to drinkable quality”.
In order to light the homes, they optimized outside natural light inflow by adding skylights and maintaining indoor temperature with large double-glazes.
The project has been able to achieve 30% carbon emission reductions compared to standard buildings and this is impressive as achieving net-zero is difficult for the building sector.
We hope you are able to appreciate the diversity of the projects showcased, and are able to see that achieving net zero is not a one size fits all approach, but is a process of working towards a balance between the emissions and the absorption of carbon during the planning, the construction, the life and the demolition of a building to have a net total (or negative balance) of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere rather than adding it.
To learn more: Join Our Event "The Green Real Estate: Beyond Net Zero" on February 9th 2023!