Over the past several years, PNC Financial Services has upped the ante on green design in downtown Pittsburgh with the 2009 construction of Three PNC Plaza, a LEED-certified office building, and the addition of one of the world’s biggest green walls at One PNC Plaza. Now, the financial company is preparing to break ground on another office tower that architect Doug Gensler describes as “the world’s most environmentally friendly skyscraper.”
The Tower at PNC Plaza, which is set to break ground next spring, will feature an energy-efficient double glass facade that will be oriented to maximize natural sunlight and limit the need for artificial lights, explains Gensler on his blog. The building will be capped with a green roof and a greywater retention system that will collect rainwater to be used in other parts of the building.
Pittsburgh is situated at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, which feed into the Ohio River, but did you know that there’s also a fourth river that flows beneath the city? Deep below downtown Pittsburgh there is an aquifer, which maintains a constant temperature between 55 and 60 degrees throughout the year, making it a perfect source for geothermal heating and cooling. At least four buildings in downtown Pittsburgh already take advantage of the aquifer, and The Tower at PNC Plaza will be the next building to tap into the fourth river. It’s too soon to estimate how much savings PNC will get from the geothermal system, but John Robinson, PNC’s director of development, tells the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that it could account for anywhere between 35 and 75 percent of the building’s heating and cooling needs.