CREE, (Creative Renewable Energy & Efficiency) is in the process of designing one of the most sustainable high-rise building systems ever conceived. Taking into account the entire carbon footprint and lifecycle of a building, the LifeCycle Tower to be built in Dornbirn, Austria uses wood as its primary structural support. When it is completed it will stand 30 stories tall, netting it the title of the tallest wooden building in the world. The building is designed to Passivhaus standards and uses prefabricated building modules that can be erected in half the time of traditional building. An adaptive façade can host solar electric, solar thermal, green panels, or sunscreens, making this a strong candidate for the world's greenest high-rise.
The core of the prefab system is a wooden post and beam construction that supports a concrete slab. The utilities and elevator core of the building can be made from either concrete or wood. The exterior shell is engineered to maximize the walls’ r-value and reduce thermal bridging. The system has the potential to qualify for the Passivhaus standards which supports, and in fact encourages, larger buildings.
The design is based on a 1.3 meter grid, and can be used for hotels, offices, apartments, or other needs. The façade utilizes a panelized system which can be manipulated for the client’s aesthetic preferences and supports a number of technologies. These include a building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPVs) system, green wall system, solar thermal panels or a second glazing curtain. Systems integration help make best use of energy resources like solar, biomass boilers and passive cooling thanks to the operable windows.
The wood beam post slab configuration is also very earthquake resistant and holds up to fire without losing as much structural strength as steel. The Glulams beams are set in an interesting horizontal fashion to support the reinforced concrete slab. Utilities and lighting is then run in between the beams. Even the Passivehaus standard windows use wooden frames.
By pushing the limits of one of the most ubiquitous and potentially sustainable building materials and combining it with the benefits of prefab construction and the fantastic energy performance of Passivhaus design, the Lifecycle tower comes close to being the ultimate green building.