Sustainability in Tall Buildings –The Roadmap Towards Untapped Energy Savings

Carlos Santamaria
CEES-Advisors, Napa

Modern tall buildings are relentlessly being constructed in cities around the world. While these towers are designed to be functional, architecturally beautiful, and profitable, more focus is required in sustaining energy performance. In fulfilling a rapidly increasing demand for space, energy use strategies and practices need to be integrated early on during the design and commissioning phases. Although most tall buildings are designed with energy efficient technologies automating building control, more proactive measures are essential to prevent routine operational “drift” that causes ongoing inefficiencies. As these buildings age, inefficiencies become common practice, resulting in routine energy waste.

High-rise building energy consumption can be significant, totaling from 50 – 100 million kilowatts of energy and costing millions of dollars annually. As these buildings are huge consumers of power, a mere five percent savings in many of these structures can result in the reduction of several “millions” of kilowatts of energy. There are significant, easy to implement energy cost saving opportunities present and available in all tall buildings. As these new structures come on-line and age, a focused effort to achieve energy efficiency best practices is essential and will mark progress for tall buildings, as well as the industry. This presentation covers a road-map of energy reduction strategies, using case studies and results from the energy efficiency evaluation conducted at Shanghai Tower, the second tallest building in the world. These strategies can lead to High Performance operations and allow for a ten percent or more reduction in energy usage.