World’s Tallest Green Building
Lee Seok Hwai – Straits Times Indonesia
Taipei. Like a giant bamboo jutting out of the earth, the 508m-high Taipei 101 was once the world‘s tallest building.
Last year, the eight-year-old icon of Taiwan lost that title to Dubai’s 828m-high Burj Khalifa. However, it now has a new feather in its cap: the tallest green building.
Last month, the structure was awarded the top, or “platinum”, standard in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (Leed), a United States-developed certification system for green buildings. Among other things, Taipei 101 scored high marks on water and energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, and waste reduction.
For example, plants in and around the building, which resembles a huge bamboo with its stacked segments and green windows, are watered with harvested rainwater. Sixty-one per cent of its waste is recycled, and all lighting, toilets and taps have been replaced in the past two years to minimise energy and water use, said spokesman Anne Wang.
At the award ceremony on July 28, Premier Wu Den-yih said: “The building is the pride of Taiwan and a model for others to follow.”
Thousands of buildings on the island are trying to catch up in the green stakes. Government agencies, corporations and schools have been shrinking their carbon footprint through conservation measures similar to Taipei 101′s.
Indeed, all new government buildings are required to obtain a Green Building Label (GBL), a home-grown assessment based on nine criteria, from energy and water conservation to biodiversity, before construction can even begin.
According to the Taiwan Architecture and Building Centre (TABC), 864 completed buildings have qualified for GBL since 2000 and another 2,340 proposed buildings have obtained provisional GBL based on their design plan. Of these, about 89 per cent are public structures.
“All completed government buildings must pass our checks before they can be inaugurated,” said Ke Lih-wen, a TABC engineer responsible for the program.
One of the most stunning examples is the public library in Beitou, a leafy district in the north of Taipei. The three-story, NT$120 million (S$5 million) wooden building uses balconies and vertical wood grating to cut the amount of heat that enters the building.
In addition, the building collects rainwater to water plants and flush toilets, uses eco-friendly paint, and has solar panels that can generate 16kw of electricity.
It attained the highest, or “diamond”, standard of GBL in 2007.
Together, all the GBL buildings will cut nearly 600 million kilos of carbon dioxide emissions each year, equivalent to the effect of 42,375ha of man-made forest, said Mr Ke.
Water savings are estimated at 42 million sq m, enough to fill 16,747 standard swimming pools.
The private sector has taken its own green initiatives.
Flat panel display maker AU Optronics’ fabrication facility in Taichung, central Taiwan, scored the Leed platinum certification earlier this year. Chunghwa Telecom, the largest telecom services provider in Taiwan, is installing photovoltaic cells on some of its buildings to produce its own solar-powered electricity.
For Taipei 101, the Leed honour is the reward for two years of improvement works at a cost of NT$60 million and 10,000 man hours. But it expects to save millions of dollars a year on electricity and water consumption.
Its environmental-friendliness has rubbed off on the nearly 10,000 occupants of the skyscraper.
About 84 per cent of them take public transport to work, compared to the city-wide average of 34 percent.
Reprinted courtesy of Straits Times Indonesia. To subscribe to Straits Times Indonesia and/or the Jakarta Globe call 021 2553 5055.