Gallery: World’s Greenest Skyscraper: Pearl River Tower Almost Complete


What might be the world’s greenest skyscraper just finished construction of its top floor floor in Guangzhou, China. We wrote about the “zero energy” Pearl River Tower, home of CNTC Guangdong Tobacco Corporation, back in 2006 when it was just a rendering. Now that the structure is in place the tower is slated to be finished later this year. Pearl River integrates the use of top of the line sustainable technology, passive wind and solar design, and innovative structural techniques to create a near zero energy building that is as beautiful as it is green.

“The design of the ‘zero-energy’ concept Pearl River Tower reflects the principle of humankind in harmony with the environment,” notes Skidmore, Owings and Merrill the architecture firm responsible for the design. The building was situated to take advantage of the sun and wind patterns of the location. It is south facing and features funnel style breaks in the facade that focus wind on integrated internal wind turbines. It has integrated photovoltaic panels that — along with the energy from the turbines — keep the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems energized. There are also motorized louvers on the facade of the building that rotate to keep the building cool and provide fresh air ventilation. This is one structure that has pushed past the dream like design phase into a structural reality.

The list of green features goes on and on. From the double-skinned, triple-glazed facade to the cooling beam structure and greywater collection system this skyscraper design has all it needs to be as lightweight on the Guangdong grid as it can manage. Though the company behind the building, the CNTC Guangdong Tobacco Corporation, isn’t the greenest of them all — let’s hope they don’t ruin their indoor air quality by lighting up all the time — they’re certainly making an effort by building this 71 story sustainable beauty. We can’t wait for the finishing touches on the Pearl River Tower and we’re hoping that the building proves to be as exciting in action as it has been in construction and design.

+ Skidmore, Owings and Merrill


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  1. BWilkins March 30, 2010 at 3:52 am


    Those floors are mechanical spaces. I know because I was co-designer of the tower (and daily reader of inhabitat). And there was no “huge waste of valuable real estate”… because of the integrated systems, including the turbines, we were able to have more floor area in the tower. [Brad Wilkins]

  2. xsimpletunx March 29, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    For those who may not know, those two empty floors (~12&24) are there because local building codes require them as a fire break and staging area. They are not a coincidental architectural feature. Ultimately, they are a huge loss and waste of valuable real estate, which is a shame. Not to take away from the “green-ness” of the design, just an fyi. Very cool tower nonetheless.

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