Super-talls are more energy-efficient, says Smithby CW Staff on Oct 25, 2011
The energy efficiency of a super-tall building is superior to the equivalent number of low-rise buildings, according to Adrian Smith, principal of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG).
Smith is the designer of the 1km-high Kingdom Tower in Jeddah. He will be delivering a presentation at the Green Build Congress at The Big 5 2011.
“Building enclosures are reduced when building tall. Imagine that a 400m tower of, let us say, 100 floors will have one ground floor and one roof in addition to all of the walls.
"If you split this into 33 buildings of three floors, you will have to add 33 ground floors and 33 roofs where energy loads will be added. It is pretty clear, when you think about it this way, that the energy efficiency of a super-tall building is superior to the equivalent number of low-rise buildings,” argues Smith.
“And if you did build those 33 low-rise buildings, think of the additional land that would be paved over in the process, and the attendant infrastructure — roads, power grids, water and sewers and so on—that would be necessary to service all of that sprawl. Particularly in terms of land use, building tall makes tremendous sense.”
Smith adds: “There are also many other features of Kingdom Tower that we would consider to be ‘business as usual’, but that definitely serve to reduce the impact on the environment. The performance of the MEP systems results in considerable efficiencies over conventional systems.
“The high-performance exterior wall system, for example, maximises natural lighting while at the same time reducing solar heat gain. It will be feature low-emissivity reflective glass that will reduce heat gain as much as possible, while at the same time providing the panoramic views that building occupants want.
“Where the glass is not needed for viewing, we are planning an insulated ‘shadowbox’ panel that minimises heat gain, and which will have essentially the same thermal performance that a stone panel would.”
Another fascinating feature of Kingdom Tower, and one not normally associated with super-talls, is the use of balconies. “They formed part of our scheme for Kingdom Tower from the beginning, in part because we wanted them to shade a significant portion of the exterior wall, and help reduce the overall energy load. They are, of course, also wonderful amenities for occupants, contributing to the project’s social sustainability.”
Water conservation is a key feature. “We have condensate recovery systems, which in Kingdom Tower will collect about 14 Olympic-size pools of moisture annually that will be recycled for irrigation. We have specified highly-efficient sanitary fittings to reduce water waste.
“In common with other tall buildings, water use in Kingdom Tower will be generally lower, as the water-supply network will have a sophisticated leak-detection system to ensure that all water reaching the building gets used in the building, rather than wasted as non-revenue water.”
Smith says the interior will be finished with paint that contains no VOCs. The building management system will be optimised through continued commissioning to ensure it consistently delivers the most efficient level of performance.
“And from the beginning stages of construction, we will be using materials, such as rebar, with a substantial amount of recycled content.”
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