Breathing Building ‘The Greenest In The World’


Pittsburgh’s biggest bank PNC has just unveiled its new $400million headquarters in downtown Pittsburgh in what it believes is the world’s greenest building.

Essentially it’s a breathing office tower that moves air in and out of the building without using energy.

For an estimated 42 percent of the year, when climatic conditions are right (mainly spring and fall), the building will naturally ventilate, which occurs when fresh air enters and exits the building through windows and vents without the use of fans, air conditioners or furnaces. This natural air cycle reduces the company’s heating and cooling consumption and costs, and improves comfort for occupants. A double-skinned façade allows large air gates on the exterior to open automatically signaling that the tower is breathing.

This natural ventilation system has at its heart a solar chimney – when sun heats the roof the chimney also warms and creates a natural vacuum effect drawing air upwards.

It is estimated the total energy savings for this 32-storey building will be half compared to a traditional office tower elsewhere.

The building’s waterplant also recycles and treats rain and wastewater for flushing, cooling and irrigation and is estimated to consume 77 percent less water than a typical office building.

About 2,200 employees will be accommodated in the building with full occupancy expected to be completed by January 2016. Uniquely designed workstations with legs are being installed to raise them off the floor to help with ventilation.

Exterior skin of PNC Tower showing breathable vents[/caption]In the lobby is a massive cone-shaped installation called the Beacon which is more than just a work of art. It has liquid crystal panels each containing LED lights that will change colour depending upon how the building is using or saving energy. The designer wanted to the Beacon to reflect the ‘mood’ of the building.

The tower was designed by architecture and design firm Gensler.

“PNC really pushes the value proposition of its buildings and the environments they create,” says Doug Gensler. “The Tower at PNC Plaza is about stretching architecture to drive performance to a new level.”

The installation in the foyer lights up and changes colours depending upon the 'mood' of the building in regards to its energy saving performance.[/caption]

Main image Other images from Gensler. 

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