Over the last two decades, energy efficiency and daylighting have changes from a minor concern of architects into a global priority for building developers and the general public alike.
Boasting lower energy bills, a reduced environmental impact, and aesthetics that aren’t easy to beat, it’s easy to see why. Energy-efficient design works, even when used in some of the world’s most interesting and influential buildings.
From incredible skyscrapers to unique, ultra-modern museums, these five buildings use energy-efficient design and daylighting to achieve some truly remarkable design goals.
Taipei 101: The World’s Tallest Energy Efficient Building
The world’s tallest building until the Burj Khalifa was unveiled in 2010, Taipei 101 is one of the world’s most energy-efficient skyscrapers. Known as the ‘World’s Tallest Green Building,’ Taipei 101’s incredible 101-floor design makes use of some modern daylighting and energy-efficiency tricks.
To begin with, the building uses ultra-efficient T5 energy-saving lighting to reduce the amount of electricity spent on lighting. It also uses floor-to-ceiling glass to give offices an excellent source of natural light, controlled using an energy management system and double low-e glass to save heating energy.
MAS Museum: Antwerp’s Naturally Lit Museum
The Museum aan de Stroom – known to most as the ‘MAS Museum’ – is one of the most well-known buildings in Belgium. Located in Antwerp, this stylish structure uses energy-efficient design and incredible daylighting to operate on a fraction of the amount of electricity used by a typical building.
With its eye-catching design and large windows, it’s easy to see what’s made the MAS Museum such a hit. Built on a formerly abandoned port, the museum uses a huge amount of exterior windows to fill its exhibit halls with sunlight and offer a wonderful view of the surrounding area for visitors.
Warroad: The United States’ Most Stylish Border Crossing
Think of border patrol and you’ll likely think of long queues, tollgates, and design that isn’t exactly cutting-edge. The Warroad Land Port of Entry, located on the US border with Canada in Warroad, Minnesota, is a remarkable building that blends energy-efficient construction with a stylish and remarkable ultra-modern design.
Designed to secure the nation’s border and provide thousands of cars, trucks, and daily passengers with safe passage into Canada, this 40,000 square foot building is an incredibly rare example of routine public services showcasing a modern design that rivals the world’s best museums and government buildings.
Casa Locarno: Switzerland’s Most Energy Efficient Home
Winner of the 2011 Green Good Design Award, this five-bedroom home may not be a public building, as such. However, it’s a remarkable example of energy efficiency, modern design, and ultra-efficient daylighting in action, all in one of the world’s most impressive natural environments.
Located in Locarno, Switzerland, this five-bedroom is dug into the side of a nearby mountain. The exterior offers beautiful views of the Swiss mountains, while a giant network of windows and a large Skyframe allow the structure to soak in daylight in summer, manage interior heat in winter, and use minimal energy year-round.
Tureberg Church: Sweden’s Naturally Lit ‘Green Church’
Equal parts stylish modern design and classic church aesthetics, Tureberg Church in Stockholm is an excellent example of modern daylighting in action. The small church uses large skylights and tall windows to light its altar and seating area using nothing but natural sunlight.
It’s a very welcome departure from typical church architecture, which is very reliant on artificial lighting. Designed and built as a tribute to future generations, the green design of the church was used to minimize its environmental impact and allow the community’s youth to grow up in a world that may not have so many resources.
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