5 sustainable office buildings from around the world

TGL News

Etsy’s New York headquarters

Solar farms, gardens in the sky, custom built panels and dedicated apps. Here’s a look at some of the most sustainable offices from around the world and the technologies that make them so.

Australia boasts a number of sustainable workplaces, from the mixed use DUO development in Sydney to the 6 star Green Star carbon neutral Pixel building in Melbourne.

But what about elsewhere around the world? 

Etsy, New York

This 18,580 square metre office block is the largest to have undertaken the International Living Future Institute’s Living Building Challenge to date. It has met imperatives across all seven “petals” (that is, categories), and has completed four: materials, place, beauty, and  health and happiness.

More than 60 per cent of the 1500 materials used in the build were sourced from within 500 kilometres of the site, none contain harmful or toxic materials, and all wood used is either FSC certified or salvaged.

During construction and demolition, 90 per cent of all waste was diverted from landfill, and on a day to day basis the office’s rubbish is weighed, composted and recycled, and strategies employed to reduce consumption.

Designed by Gensler, the building takes advantage of natural daylight, has LED lighting and a 12 kW rooftop solar farm. A rooftop rainwater system collects and stores up to 12,000 litres of rainwater.

Shanghai Tower, Shanghai

The 632-metre-tall skyscraper is one of the tallest office blocks in the world, second only to the Burj Khalifa, Dubai. Nine “sky lobbies” introduce greenery and break up the 121 floors, while one third of the tower’s surrounding site is also landscaped.

Its twisting asymmetrical shape is designed to withstand typhoon-force winds, and hundreds of wind turbines capture 10 per cent of the building’s energy needs, powering its exterior lighting and more. The double layered glass façade also provides insulation for the building as it improves ventilation and lets in sunlight.

Bloomberg, London

This office block has been called the most sustainable in the world after it was given a Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method rating of 98.5 per cent when it was completed in 2017 – still the highest to date.

The Bloomberg office is comprised of two buildings joined by a series of pedestrian bridges. It features a system of bespoke petal-like ceiling panels which combines air supply, cooling and acoustic functions with a network of 500,000 efficient LED lights.

The distinct bronze blades that cover the building’s exterior can open on temperate days, while smart sensors adjust to occupancy and other factors to control air flow and an on-site Combined Heat and Power generator efficiently creates energy with its waste heat being used to heat and cool, saving hundreds of metric tonnes of CO2 each year.

The building has also been zero-waste to landfill since construction commenced in 2010, and is estimated to use roughly 70 per cent less water than typical office buildings thanks to its collected rainwater, internal water treatment and vacuum flush toilet systems.

Deloitte, Amsterdam

Known as The Edge, this Amsterdam building has been described as one of the smartest office spaces ever constructed. Jam-packed with powerful technology to monitor and adjust for energy usage, the building produces more electricity than it consumes thanks to an array of solar panels along its southern wall.

Custom made Philips LED light panels function as sensors for motion, light, temperature, humidity and infrared throughout the offices, and require so little energy they can be powered by the same cables used for the internet. A large, 15 storey atrium feeds light and aids ventilation in the building, while an ecological corridor runs the length of its external terrace to attract birds, bees, bats and other wildlife as well as promote employee wellbeing.

BMW, Munich

This impressive multi-purpose centre features more than 3600 rooftop solar panels, a swirling steel and glass façade that helps moderate light and airflow, and thoughtfully chosen interiors to balance internal environmental quality. 

These features are estimated to provide a 30 per cent saving on energy, aided by ample greenery surrounding the building which aids ventilation, binds dust to improve air quality, and improves inhabitants’ wellbeing.