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Burj Dubai and Taipei 101: Tallest Building in the World vs. Tallest Green Building in the World

January 5, 2010

photo of the Burj Khalifa via flickr user jrodmanjr

Dubai’s superscraper, the Burj Dubai (now re-named Burj Khalifa), opened this week as the world’s tallest building. Rising 828 meters (2,717 feet) and over 160 stories tall, it truly is a magnificent structure. But I had to wonder — how green is the building? The answer: not very.

One cool feature is the condensate collection irrigation system, used to water The Park, an 11-hectare park surrounding the foot of the Burj Dubai. The system recovers water from the tower’s cooling equipment, which yields about 15 million gallons of water a year. But to maintain a lush, green, and water intensive landscape requires a great deal of water especially when the tower is built on a desert.

The Park has a series of large reflecting pools, with each entrance to the tower sporting its own special water feature. There is also a ‘water room’ at the base of the structure with walls made of jets and pools of water. Fountains and palms line walkways.

The Khaleej Times reports on some of the other landscaping features:

The plants used for landscaping include a choice of evergreen ficuses and cassias. Royal Poincianas, with their trademark bright red blooms, decorate the centre of the tower base. Acacias, Yellow Elders and Chaste trees add to the shrub and ground cover. Splashes of bougainvillea, white coloured flowers, concentric hedges of Carissa, low growing vines, several exotic succulents including aloes and agaves add to the allure of the park.

Though beautiful, The Park consumes large quantities of water and non-native flora in its design. The structure of the Burj Khalifa itself lays claim to a colossal carbon footprint.

However, as the Burj Khalifa takes over the title of tallest building, others have figured out a way to re-gain their place in the spotlight.

Taipei 101, to be the world's tallest green building (via Taiwan News)

The Taipei 101 (formerly the tallest) has now reported that they wish to become the highest green structure in the world. It is rumored that they will spend $1.9 million in an effort to become LEED certified. By cutting electricity and water use, sourcing local supplies to reduce transportation costs and emissions and reducing trash generation among other improvements, they hope to gain certification by 2011. With these green upgrades, they estimate savings of around $20 million annually! The skyscraper has already met many of the LEED checklist items, which gives me hope that this project will remain momentum, even in a tough economy.

If we are going to build beacons such as the Burj Khalifa, shouldn’t these structures also represent leadership towards a sustainable future?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 21, 2010 5:23 am

    Its WonderFul Post, Excellent work, keep it up

  2. aaron permalink
    April 10, 2010 7:27 am

    i just when to Taipei and went to Taipei 101. Its much more beautiful than the burj kalifa.

    you are right about sky scrapers like this going green cause they cost alot and might as well go green in this economy!

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