Six fascinating projects selected for the WAN Sustainable Buildings 2015 shortlist

Lydia O’Callaghan
Monday 17 Aug 2015

The WAN Sustainable Buildings 2015 Award highlights projects that have holistically embraced sustainability without compromising the usual qualities found in good design. Every year we’ve seen an increase in the number of zero-carbon and zero-energy projects, with this year seeing eight in the longlist, which sets the standard for this award at an exceptional high. 

Recently WAN AWARDS hosted a jury session to judge the 37 longlisted projects. The jury were tasked with selecting just six to be shortlisted, which took some time as all the judges felt the quality of the projects was strong. From these six schemes, a single winner will be chosen for their Sustainable Building design. Our judges were looking for projects that had integrated sustainable design processes at every stage of the project whilst still retaining design integrity; a clear demonstration that the materials used on the project had been sourced locally, utilised renewable materials manufactured offsite or produced from a low carbon manufacturing process wherever possible and had achieved a high level of recognised accreditation for sustainability in the relevant country.

The WAN AWARDS provides the perfect platform to get architectural work firmly into the limelight of our highly esteemed judging panel and this year, on board to judge the WAN Sustainable Buildings Award category was Stuart Carr, Director at Chapman Taylor; Chris Castle, Managing Director at EPR Architects; Jon Eaglesham, Director at Barr Gazetas and Jim Huffman, Design Director at Perkins + Will.

First to be selected for the shortlist was the Office Building by BLOCHER BLOCHER PARTNERS in Stuttgart, Germany. The architects had used geothermal energy by tapping through 35 ground borings down to a depth of up to 40 metres, along with grey water use, actively cultivated green roofs and gardens, and overall cost and energy efficiency to name just a few of their sustainable efforts. Achieving the highest certification (Gold) by the German Council for Sustainable Building (DGNB), Jim Huffman felt this was "a benchmark for office design", Jon Eaglesham commented “It shows a fantastic way forward, it’s definitely an integrated piece of sustainable design - it’s part of the structure” and Chris Castle highlighted "It’s one of those buildings that you really want to get inside".

Karuna House in Newberg, Oregon, United States by Holst Architecture was also selected as one of the shortlisted projects. This scheme is the first MINERGIE-certified home in North America, earning the top rating of MINERGIE-P-ECO. Additionally, it has achieved Passive House PHIUS+, LEED for Homes Platinum, and has reached Net Zero energy use by incorporating onsite solar panels. Sited in an area famous for its rust-coloured soil, the home’s exterior palette is composed of materials and colours that reflect the tones of its surroundings. Stuart Carr said “I like it very much, it’s a simple modern building” with Chris Castle agreeing by saying “I love it, it’s beautiful”. “It’s pushing the limits of residential sustainability” stated Jim Huffman with Jon Eaglesham commenting “They’ve done absolutely everything, it ticks all boxes”.

Next to be selected was the Sacred Heart Lower & Middle Schools Stevens Library in Atherton, United States by Interface Engineering & WRNS Studio. The jurors felt when looking through the presentation that this project was really interesting. It was the first library in the US to be NZEB certified by the International Living Future Institute, and was designed to meet the Living Building Challenge Petals of Energy, Water, Habitat, and Materials. The design solution met Sacred Heart’s goal by designing a structure entirely independent from fossil fuels, committed to resource reduction, and dedicated to a healthy environment. Achieving Net-Zero Energy using photovoltaics and outside air as the renewable energy sources. Jim Huffman felt this scheme was a “High performer”.

Also picked for the shortlist was The Edge in Amsterdam, Netherland by PLP Architecture and OVG Real Estate. This office building had been awarded the highest rating ever recorded by the Building Research Establishment, the global assessor of sustainable buildings. By employing innovative smart technology, the project achieved a BREEAM new construction certification of ‘Outstanding’ with a score of 98.36 per cent. The carbon neutral building uses 70% less electricity than comparable office buildings and integrated an Ethernet-powered LED connected lighting system to continuously measure occupancy, movement, lighting, humidity and temperature. Jon Eaglesham was impressed, commenting “It really thought about its users”. Chris Castle felt the design was “great” going on to say “In terms of the future, this is how we should be doing offices”. 

Next to be selected for the shortlist was Edith Green - Wendell Wyatt Federal Building in Portland, United States by SERA Architects and Cutler Anderson Architects. The 18-story office tower was originally constructed in 1974. When it reopened on May 30, 2013, each of its systems was purposefully upgraded – from mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems to work environments and employee accessibility. It is now one of the lowest energy buildings in the U.S. A LEED Platinum certified tower, it achieved COTE Top Ten status in 2014, and received the 2014 GSA Design Excellence Award. Jon Eaglesham said this building is “striking” going on to say “I like their design philosophy, they’ve made some good decisions ”.

Last but not least Snøhetta were selected for the shortlist with their project Plus House Larvik, located in Larvik, Norway. This project has a strong focus on retaining home-like qualities through non-quantifiable properties. The building has achieved ZEB-OM verifying 100% CO2 offsetting. Renewable energy production via photovoltaic and solar-thermal panels have been integrated in the building envelope enabling offsetting of carbon emissions generated by the burning of fossil fuels in power stations. Jon Eaglesham felt “the materials used were fantastic” going on to say ”This is demonstrating innovation”. 

As there was some difficulty arriving at the shortlisted six projects, this year the judges wanted to select one project in particular as ’Commended’ on top of the six shortlisted schemes.  This project was entitled Potter Street Redevelopment in Melbourne, Australia by Allen Kong Architect Pty Ltd. This project is predominately a specialist care facility for aged homeless and co-located with specialist accommodation for younger people with intellectual disability. Central to the planning in this project is the concept of no internal circulation. The architects felt this was a radical departure from the normal and they have been using it successfully over the last 25 years. It was introduced to provide the residents a more healthy physical and social environment. In addition it saves construction costs and provides greater access to light and ventilation over a typical double loaded plan. It also further reduces the amount of internal conditioned space saving approximately 10% per annum from energy bills. Jim Huffman commented “It’s designed for climate change, it’s great analysis“. Jon Eaglesham agreed, saying ”It’s demonstrating a new way of community living” with Chris Castle going on to say “It’s a very strong social programme, this could be a model that you could roll out in the future”. 

Congratulations to all of the six shortlisted projects and the commended project of this specialist category. Details of the winning scheme will be announced on 1st September 2015. 


Lydia O’Callaghan

Awards Coordinator


Image Credits

1. Office Building by BLOCHER BLOCHER PARTNERS © Klaus Mellenthin
2. Karuna House by Holst Architecture © Jeremy Bittermann
3. Sacred Heart Lower & Middle Schools Stevens Library by Interface Engineering & WRNS Studio © Bruce Damonte
4. The Edge by OVG Real Estate and PLP Architecture © Ronald Tilleman
5. Edith Green - Wendell Wyatt Federal Building by SERA Architects and Cutler Anderson Architects © Nic Lehoux
6. Plus House Larvik by Snøhetta © Paal-André Schwital
7. Potter Street Redevelopment by Allen Kong Architect Pty Ltd

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