With increasing energy prices and corporate responsibility to reduce carbon-footprint, we have a look at what some recent office and commercial projects, showcasing how they have achieved some of the highest green ratings.

Co-Op Headquarters, Manchester

  • Costing nearly £100m, the Co-op headquarters was declared the greenest building even before it opened. Constructed by BAM, the building is powered by crops grown on the groups own farms and has a rainwater harvesting and recycling system. For heating and cooling, the buildings 300,000 square feet exposed concrete acts as a thermal sponge, and a heat recovery system collects and recycles water heat. The building has received one of the highest ever BREEAM eco-ratings.

Bullitt Centre, Seattle

  • Labelled as the greenest commercial building in the world, the 50,000 square foot building cost around $30m. Sustainable features include; a solar rooftop, extended beyond the walls intended to provide all the energy the building requires; water fully sourced from rainwater collection collected and stored in 56,000 gallon cisterns underground, which gets filtered and fully disinfected for use. The use of energy is limited to each occupant in the building, ensuring the use of the solar power is adequate. The washrooms feature composting toilets that empty into a system set up in the basement where anaerobic composters deal with all human waste. Large 10 by 4 foot windows provide enough light to reach nearly 80% of the building through the day, reducing the need for day-time lighting. The unique angle in this green building its aim to be titled a ‘Living Building’, a structure that is self-sufficient with its water and energy usage for a full year.

Kungsbrohuset, Stockholm, Sweden

  • An office building close by to the Stockholm Central station, this commercial building is heated by excess body heat that is produced by daily commuters in the station. Other features include an automatic weather forecasting system that adjusts heating and cooling to offset outdoor temperatures. Heating is sorted by the station, and cooling of the building is realised through the help of cool water from the Klara Sjo canal. Both local, this helps to minimise energy costs. Other features include double walls, thick, toughened glass windows allowing light but not heat in or out and a state of the art bike park along with showering facilities. With a larger part of the higher storeys covered entirely in glass, the building has increased energy efficiency in comparison to a traditional glass and steel structures. The key role of the heating system is a geothermal system to gather and transfer the heat in deep-sunk pipes from the Central Station into the building.

Canebuzo, Linconshire, UK

  • Although the Canebuzo development – short for Carbon Neutral Business Zone – isn’t a office building in the traditional sense as the other buildings featured, we thought this might be an interesting one for having one of the highest below-zero carbon footprints in the UK. The units have been designed so they retain heat, constructed from energy-absorbing concrete blocks, with super-insulation and a final covering of earth on the outer surfaces. The whole sixte consists of 5 separate units. The buildings will be powered entirely through the onsite solar panels and excess heating is stored when not required and useable when outside temperatures drop, meaning the units pretty much pay for themselves all year round.

World Wildlife Fund Headquarters, Woking, UK

  • One of the recent green buildings, again not quite a conventional office building, still a large commercial workplace is the new WWF Headquarters. The new development, which includes offices and a modern high-tech visitor centre cost £20m. Main features include a large number of solar panels for all the energy needs of the building, rainwater harvesting, underground heat pumps and the selected use of construction materials, including recycled concrete and timber from responsibly managed forests. The state of the art Living Planet Centre features huge panes of glass for a roof, providing masses of natural light.