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Green Buildings Could Save Our Cities

Updated: Jul 21, 2020

High-density urban areas—especially those built using green methods in design and construction—can be more energy efficient and pollute less. New research is also revealing that green buildings can actually be good for our health too.

Improved Insulation, Solar Panels, Rooftop Plantings Enhanced Ventilation, Building Solar Orientation, High Efficiency Light Fixtures, Eco-Friendly Building Materials, Motion Sensor Controlled Lighting, and Rain Water Utilization Systems

Article originally published in January 2017 on National Geographic.


Architects are exploring concepts of Sustainability in City Design

Italian architect Stefano Boeri has revealed designs for a plant-covered 36-story tower in Lausanne, Switzerland, continuing the "vertical forest" concept he trialed with a pair of towers in Milan.

According to Boeri, the building in the Chavannes-Près-Renens district of the city will be the first tower in the world to be covered with evergreen trees.

The predominantly residential 383 foot tall building will contain apartments ranging in size from two to five bedrooms, as well as offices, a gym and a panoramic restaurant on its top floor.

As with Boeri's Bosco Verticale buildings in Milan, the intention is that the leaves of the trees will help to trap fine dust, absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen to improve the city's air quality.

Alongside 100 cedar trees, 6,000 shrubs and 18,000 plants will also contribute to green surfaces totaling approximately 9,842 square feet. Cedar was chosen because of its longevity and ability to withstand severe climatic conditions.


Cities around the world are experimenting with the concept of the "Eco-City"

Aimed at being the world’s largest of its type,Tianjin Eco-city is a collaborative project between the Chinese and Singaporean government that will house 350,000 people in a low-carbon, green environment around half the size of Manhattan by 2020.

In March, the first 60 families moved into the city's residential buildings, all of which are designed to a minimum green buildings standard, including water-saving sanitary fittings, insulated walls and double-glazed windows, as well as a south-facing orientation to optimise passive heat. Such techniques may be standard in some countries, but in China they are rare.

A green spine, called the “eco valley” runs through the heart of the city with cycle routes and a tram. Residents will be encouraged to use regular low-carbon transport or walk, rather than driving. Cars won't be banned, Ho says. "We don't want to create obstacles for people, but rather make it conducive to use alternatives." Niche designs that have focused blindly on eco-technologies have not worked, he says. "This eco-city will be practical – it will work."


Vo Trong Nghia Architects(VTNA) has unveiled a proposal for a Green City HallinVietnam’sBac Ninh City. Designed as a vertical park, the 36,000 square meter proposal is meant to serve as a new symbol for a traditionally agricultural, but rapidly industrializing area of Northern Vietnam. The VTNA proposal is part of a larger plan to develop a new urban area on the edge of the old city, and is designed to be a catalyst for future green developments in the area.

The building is composed of two volumes that lean towards each other – think shuffling cards witha riffle or dovetail method– in a gesture that is meant to symbolize a unity of citizens and government.. Cultural facilities in the structure’s base give way to government offices in one tower with party offices and a citizen center in the other. The two towers culminate in an observation deck.

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