An increasing population requiring more homes and more buildings for businesses is a challenge in a world where sustainability attempts to combat climate change. Eco or green building is considered the best way forward, with buildings powered by renewable energy combined with a reduction of waste at home and at work. Through the use of on-site water treatment plants and recycling facilities UK architects continue to create green buildings as an investment in future generations and the health of the planet.
Here we list the best UK eco/green buildings that avoid a negative impact on the environment.
One Embankment Place, London
Considered the most environmentally friendly building in London, the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) building is the UK's best "air rights" building, constructed on top of an existing structure, built over Charing Cross Station in the early 1990's.
New technologies include a tri-generation combined cooling, heat and power system. This is fuelled by recycled waste vegetable oil that is collected and refined locally to a new efficiency standard by Uptown Oil and South Bank University. Chiller beams replace air conditioning and low-power lift braking has been installed, along with eco-friendly carpet tiles and electrical charging points. Open plan spaces and airy atria provide natural light; roof gardens and green walls contribute to the building's ecology; and waterless urinals and low flush toilets reduce water use. During the work, ninety-five percent of materials were sourced responsibly and ninety-six percent of construction waste was diverted from landfill.
The result is a building with Environmental Performance Certificate A and a BREEAM score of 96.31 percent, one of the best in the world. The refurbishment is expected to pay for itself in less than four years and the company states the transformation will help it achieve PwC's 2017 targets to reduce carbon emissions by fifty percent and energy use by twenty-five percent.
One Angel Square, Manchester
The Co-Operative Group’s headquarters is a distinctive 15-storey building with a double skin façade. The building has its own source of heat and power with an intelligent heat recovery system that takes heat generated by the IT systems and reuses it to heat the building.
Alongside more complex systems, the building also implements more familiar technologies including low energy LED lights and IT systems, grey-water and rainwater recycling systems for toilet flushing and irrigation as well as high efficiency passenger lifts. The building is designed to save between forty and sixty percent of the current energy cost incurred by a standard head office building and it achieved an ‘Outstanding’ rating under the BREEAM environmental rating scheme.
The Foundry, London
This former shoe-polish factory was adapted to become an office facility that houses various charities in London. Built on a former brownfield in Vauxhall, this adaptive reuse project sports a zigzagging and glazed façade that allows generous amounts of natural light into the building. The architects retained many of the architectural elements of the former factory building, a strategy that not only preserved the area’s traditional character, but also had cost-effective and environmentally friendly benefits.
NEO Bankside, London
NEO Bankside is a mixed-use development that overlooks enviable views of the adjacent River Thames and is close to Tate Modern. The 217-unit complex comprises four hexagonal residential blocks. The structures are supported by external bracing system that remove the need for interior load-bearing walls and allow the architects to maximize natural light and views. The scheme incorporates a number of the best sustainable features including a combined heating and power plant; ground source heat pumps for central heating in winter and cooling in summer and solar water heating from roof panels. Collectively, these three systems provide a proportion of the domestic hot water and space heating requirements of each apartment. Harvested rainwater is used for irrigating the landscaped areas.
Ashmount Primary School, London
North London’s Ashmount Primary School is one of the UK’s zero-carbon school. Built as part of a carbon-negative development, the school won a BREEAM Award for Highest Scoring Project in the Education Sector. The building minimizes energy consumption and is powered with renewable energy and a gas-fired combined heat and power plant.
WWF-UK Headquarters Living Planet Centre, Woking
The WWF-UK’s Living Planet Centre is another UK building that has been awarded the BREEAM “Outstanding” building award. The building minimizes its environmental impact and educates the public on its many sustainable features. The solar-powered project was built on a former brownfield and its design includes passive solar principles, recycled construction materials, energy-efficient appliances, rainwater catchment systems, plus easy access to public transit.
The Whitworth Extension, Manchester
The 2015 renovation of Manchester’s Whitworth Gallery was not a typical art gallery expansion project. The glass and brick extensions impressively reduce the overall carbon footprint by 10 percent while increasing the building footprint by over a third. The energy-efficient building uses the landscape and passive solar principles to reduce reliance on air conditioning and heating. Ground source heat pumps and natural ventilation are used to heat and cool the building.
Brentford Lock West, London
This residential development on the banks of the Grand Union Canal was developed for the ISIS Waterside Regeneration project. The 45 energy-efficient residential units are clad in brick and sculpted with jagged roof-lines in keeping with the area’s industrial character. This UK project won a biodiversity award for its landscape design, irrigated by harvested rainwater. This not only increases the site’s ecological value, but also helps the brownfield soil regeneration. Solar energy powers the buildings, which are heated from communal gas boilers and retain the heat using high performance insulation and windows.
Sheffield Hallam University’s Heart of the Campus
Sheffield Hallam University’s Heart of the Campus is a three-story tall energy-efficient building designed by HLM Architects in Yorkshire. Filled with natural light, the building was designed to ‘bring the outdoors in’ and, in the process, reduces its need for artificial lighting, heating and cooling. The building is heated entirely by ground source heat pumps, powered by solar energy, and equipped with rainwater harvesting systems.