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Modern Skyscraper Design Reaches Greener Heights

Building skyscrapers used to be a race toward the tallest towers. However, today’s increasing population, environmental concerns, and shifting urban landscape has prompted designers and engineers to move toward a more sustainable direction. Take a look at some of the biggest green trends that are changing our sky lines.

business woman in city center

The Need for High-Rise Buildings

Before diving into the sustainability push for skyscrapers, it’s important to understand the role they play as cities continue to grow. With the rising need for space, it’s more practical and effective to build vertically than to eat up horizontal space. Because of this, skyscrapers have become a critical element not just for providing housing but for enhancing liveability in general.

Constructing and designing skyscrapers include creating habitable, safe spaces in very tall structures. The buildings should resist wind and earthquakes, support the weight, and protect the space from fire. On the other hand they should also provide a comfortable climate for residents, be accessible even on the highest floors, and provide utilities.

Because of these numerous requirements, builders typically have a difficult time designing skyscrapers that are environmentally-friendly at the same time. Yet thanks to advances in engineering and design, it’s now feasible to create stunning skyscrapers that incorporate eco-conscious practices.

Green Trends for Skyscrapers

Two of the biggest trends when it comes to skyscrapers has to do with materials and green spaces:

  • Replacing Steel with Wood 

Steel is a traditional material for major construction projects. In 2014, however, only 52 out of 97 skyscrapers followed this old model. Most used cross-laminated timber (CLT) in place of steel.

CLT is made up for several layers of timber board. These are used to form structural sheets, sometimes as thick as 40 centimetres. The cross-lamination technology allows CLT to have amazing stability and strength comparable to steel and other similar building materials.

Every cubic meter of CLT used to replace blocks and concrete reduces the carbon emissions of skyscrapers by up to 1.1 tons. A hybrid system that combines concrete and CLT can potentially reduce carbon footprint by as much as 75%. Baobab, a proposed skyscraper in Paris using cross-laminated timber, can potentially store the carbon monoxide emissions equal to 2, 207 vehicles on the road for a whole year.

  • More Green Spaces

Experts express the importance of high-quality green spaces for people when it comes to skyscraper design. A serious problem among apartment dwellers is a lack of access to nature, which can severely affect their mental and physical health.

Due to this, skyscraper designers have started to come up with creative ways to integrate buildings with green spaces. The Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, for instance, has three towers connected by a single rooftop that functions as a green park. Some newer buildings add community gardens to their rooftops where residents can tend to edible and ornamental plants accessible to all.

As more skyscrapers continue to redefine our skylines, it’s not a question of how high these towers can go anymore. The latest focus is on how skyscrapers can blend construction while contributing to a cleaner, healthier environment starting with the use of better materials and factoring in the human experience.

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