This article is the second part of a multi-part series looking into the world’s greenest buildings. It is based off the book of the same name by Yudelson and Meyer.

I thought the book was really interesting. The article last week was well received, so I will continue to pick out some more case studies over the coming weeks.

41 Cooper Square

Out of all the case studies, 41 Cooper Square jumped out at me for its stunning architecture. Sustainable buildings need not be compromised architecturally and this building is testament to that.

41 Cooper square is located in New York City and was the first academic building in New York to be LEED Platinum certified.

The building houses the School of Art, Architecture and Engineering. The idea behind the design was very much to inspire the students that pass through the building during its lifecycle. I know architecture can be very subjective, but I find the shapes aesthetically pleasing.

The building comes equipped with some less conventional features. These include: a sculpted mesh façade, a full height sky-lit atrium, aluminium window walls, a four-story central staircase and sky bridges. The aim of all of these was to create an inspiring workspace for students and staff.

The façade, which as well as being eye catching, serves a dual sustainability purpose. A semi-transparent layer of perforated metal panels wraps the exterior window walls. These create a continually varying façade, which insulates in the winter and provides the building with shade in the summer.

41 Cooper Square had several sustainability features that caught my eye.

Radiant heating and cooling panels introduce innovative HVAC technology that boosts the energy efficiency of the building. This is one of the key features that makes the building 40% more energy efficient than a comparable research building.

The full height atrium improves air flow and provides increased interior daylighting, saving electricity. Across the building this strategy has meant that 75% of the buildings regularly occupied spaces are lit by natural daylight.

The building also comes with a green roof, a feature that I am a big fan of. This insulates the building and reduces the heat island effect, reduces storm water runoff. Water harvested from the green roof is reused within the building.

In terms of power, the building comes equipped with a cogeneration plant that provides additional power to the building when required. The advantage of generating the power on site, is that it reduces transmission losses and it allows you to capture the waste heat and use it productively, reducing energy costs.

The performance data of the building comes in as follows. The building has a total energy use of 8,745,257 kWh, with an intensity of 538 kWh/sq m. Which is a strong performance for a building in its class.

What you need to know   

This article is the second part in a multi-part series where I am picking out my favourite sustainable buildings from Yudelson and Meyer’s book The World’s Most Sustainable Buildings.

Today was the turn of looking at 41 Cooper Square.

Architecturally, this is probably my favourite case study in the building. Looks are important. If sustainable Architecture is to become more mainstream it is important that the building is eye catching to passers by and inspirational to occupants. This building does just that.

I like the combination of aesthetic features with effective sustainability features, proving that it is possible to have both.

There is probably not as many technological breakthroughs this case study, but it ticks all the boxes for a green building and there is a lot to like about it.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think makes a building a sustainable building?

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