Located in downtown Philadelphia right above the Suburban rail station, the Comcast Center has been awarded the title of “tallest LEED certified building in the US” after earning a Gold Certification for LEED-CS (Core & Shell). The obelisk-like 58 story tower is covered in high-performance glass and sunscreens, and features louvers in the atria to help optimize daylight inside the building. Many other green design features help this mixed-use skyscraper reduce energy consumption, making it a great example of environmentally responsible urban growth.
The Comcast Center’s high-performance windows block 60% of the heat from the sun and let in 70% of the site’s available daylight. This reduces energy usage from lighting and cooling, which are both huge portions of a skyscraper’s energy demands. Radiant heating, thermal extraction, and displacement ventilation also help the building be more efficient. High-efficiency water fixtures help the building use 40% less water than a typical office building, and shading in the plaza outside reduces the project’s urban heat-island effect by 70%.
Last week we wrote about how Taipei 101, one of the world’s tallest buildings, is set to begin a massive energy efficiency upgrade project that will help it become more environmentally responsible. Skyscrapers, while expensive and energy intensive to construct, are an effective way to increase density and also help city dwellers reduce their environmental impact. People who live in cities generally have a lower carbon footprint, and tall, dense buildings are a factor in that carbon reduction as well as more efficient public transportation. So, when skyscrapers make it a point to become even more environmentally responsible, everyone wins.
With the LEED-CS certification of the Comcast Center led by Robert A.M. Stern this last year, people in Philadelphia can be satisfied in knowing that such a large building is now using significantly less energy than it was before.