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Review our hand-picked case studies

In this article we explore a variety of low carbon case studies from around the world
Green Eco Building in the City, Green architecture.

There are many exciting case studies from around the world to explore. Below you can find a selection that we have chosen for this course. You will notice that not all are modern technologies that minimise fossil fuel emissions, but traditional methods such as weaving bamboo can also be very effective.

The Bullitt Center

Photo of the Bullitt Center, a white building with glass windows Photo source: Bullitt Center

The Bullitt Center, Seattle was designed to be the greenest commercial building in the world and was opened in April 2013. It took into consideration 7 key sustainability principles during design phases and throughout the construction process: net-zero energy use, net-zero water use, sustainable materials, site-specific design and significant attention to health, equity and beauty. The site generates its own energy from the 575 solar panels which cover its roof. The panels are angled to collect ample sunlight in the summer months. Excess energy is then pushed into Seattle’s electricity grid, which the Center can then draw from in winter.

The energy generation has performed as expected, but thanks to other climate-controlled design featues, energy usage has been lower. In 2016, for example, energy generated was 30% higher than needed and so excess energy could be sold back to the grid. The building makes use of natural ventilation, passive cooling, heat pumps and automatic blinds that all enable climate control without high levels of energy use. Another feature is the water collection cistern and filtration system as well as excess water pumps that deliver water to an on-site garden.

To find out more about this case study you might be interested in reading the articles on it by ArchDaily, The Whole Building Design Guide, and visit the Bullitt Centre website.

The Entopia Building

Photo of the Entopia building, a brown building with many windows Photo source: Architects Journal

The Entopia Building in Cambridge was an office refurbishment project which had ambitious targets during construction of low embodied carbon and greater energy efficiency. This was possible due to retaining many of the original materials and structures and reusing them throughout the project.

Intended to be the University of Cambridge’s greenest building, targets were immediately set to recover upfront costs through long-term planning and taking a ‘fabric first’ approach for energy systems. 5139 items were recycled or reclaimed, avoiding 85,747kg of CO2e. The project also utilised existing recycling and reusing schemes such as CollectEco furniture recycling to avoid sending materials to landfill. New materials were intended to contribute to overall goals of reducing carbon. Bio-based insulation and glazing was used to reduce the requirements for MEP systems, leading to lower energy use. Compared to an average refurbishment, there is an expected 80% reduction in whole life carbon emissions over the estimated 100-year lifespan.

To find out more about this case study you might be interested in reading the articles on it by CISL, UKGBC, and the Passiv Haus Trust.

The Green School

Photo of the Green School in Bali, a school made from bamboo. Children are in the forefront Photo source: Build Better Now

The Green School in Bali, Indonesia is a sustainable school that provides a holistic education, focused on the natural environment and surrounding communities. The campus buildings maximise usage of natural materials wherever possible, primarily bamboo. Buildings are designed to be energy efficient. Where energy is needed, it is provided by renewable solar and hydro power sources. Small and large buildings blend traditional craft techniques with material from the jungle, with innovative architectural designs and energy systems to create a sustainable campus.

The Arc, one of the largest and most impressive buildings of the school, utilises bamboo in never before seen parabolic structures, weaved with traditional techniques and with natural ventilation to maximise energy efficiency. Principles of the circular economy have led to lower carbon emissions across the campus. Those who cannot walk to the school arrive on a bio-bus, fuelled by locally processed bio-fuel. The natural by-products of this process are then used in sanitation on campus, the waste from which goes to feeding animals on-site and composting in the on-site garden.

To find out more about this case study you might be interested in reading the articles on it by Archdaily, Dezeen, Inhabitat, or check out the Green School website.

Singita Volcanoes Natural Park

Singita hotel Image source: Arch Daily

Conservation and tourism brand Singita partnered with the Rwanda Development Board to create a lodge that captured the spirit of Rwanda and maintained enough humility to allow guests to be stunned by the natural environment of the neighbouring volcanoes, cloud forests and gorillas. Sustainable design was emphasised at all stages of development.

All buildings in the project try to minimise energy use and consumption of water through passive heating and cooling systems. Contractors were approached locally to maximise the use of local materials and limit carbon emissions from transportation. Local contractors created woven ceilings, rock walls and terracotta pods, using traditional techniques that reflected Rwandan heritage as well as contemporary designs. They have achieved a 90% reduction in plastic and are targeting a 90% recycling rate on site as well as encouraging environmental care, fuel reductions and an eventual goal of 100% of energy usage coming from renewable sources. They have also implemented the Bioregional One Planet Living framework at all their lodges and camps.

To find out more about this case study you might be interested in reading the article on it by The University of East Anglia, explore it in the Build Better Now Pavilion, or check out the Singita website.

Tecla House

Photo of Tecla house from above, dome shaped 3-D printed buildings Photo source: 3D Wasp

Tecla House in Italy was entirely constructed out of 350 layers of 3D-printed clay. The clay was locally sourced from riverbeds near to the site and then printed with a multilevel printer with two extensions to print multiple modules at the same time. According to those who worked on the construction, the future of this technology could mean a single house could be built in 72 hours, and almost entirely eliminate the average waste associated with the construction process. The recyclable local materials shortened the supply chain and the construction methods caused a fraction of the emissions normally generated in the built environment sector. The design of the clay accounts for local climate as well as insulation and ventilation to reduce energy consumption. It is currently undergoing performance testing but the lack of embodied carbon represents an exciting new avenue of technological processes for construction.

To find out more about this case study you might be interested in reading the articles on it by Archdaily, MC Architects, or explore it in the Build Better Now Pavilion, or check out the 3D Wasp website.

Modulus Homes

Image of a mock-up modulus housing development by a lake Image source: Modulus

Modulus housing is an innovative flat-pack housing idea in Karachi, Pakistan. The homes are lightweight, easily transportable en masse and inexpensive. They are designed with insulation in mind as well as passive cooling to save in demand for energy. There are also solar panels in each home which can generate their own electricity. Houses are constructed from recyclable materials and made to minimise energy use, meaning that the average Modulus home could have a carbon footprint 52 times smaller than that of an average home. These homes can be mass produced and shipped together, easily assembled and are then designed to last and thrive for over 50 years with net-zero carbon emissions.

To find out more about this case study you might be interested in reading the article on it by Edge Buildings, explore it in the Build Better Now Pavilion, or check out the Modulous website.

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