There’s a new contender vying for the title of World’s Most Sustainable Skyscraper: The new headquarters for the CNTC Guangdong Company, a large tobacco company in China, will be a zero-energy building.

The company held an international design competition, and the winning design of the 69-story Pearl River Tower comes from Chicago’s Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). According to project architect Gordon Gill, this isn’t just a building, it’s �a high performance instrument shaped by the sun and the wind.”

SOM employed nearly every trick in the zero-energy book: the main fa�ade is south-facing, the windows are made of double-glazed glass, the building is outfitted with wind turbines and solar panels to provide electricity and power the heating and cooling systems, and rainwater collection and grey-water recycling systems reduce water consumption.

The tower also has a unique system of louvers on the south side that help keep the building cool and the air inside it fresh; the louvers not only act as vents, but also adjust automatically as the sun moves across the sky to keep temperatures stable.

Cooling the building provided one of the biggest challenges, as CNTC is located in the subtropical city of Guangzhou. SOM came up with several strategies to combat the hot, humid climate while maintaining a zero-energy profile: as air is drawn through the vents on the south-facing side, a passive dehumidification system removes the moisture from it. Heat sinks, radiant slab cooling on each floor, and underfloor displacement ventilation further help to cool the building.

The Pearl River Tower’s pretty attractive, too. It’s not quite biomorphic, but its rounded roof and rounded, segmented south side do remind us a little of a pea pod.

The groundbreaking begins this summer and the tower should be finished by 2009. Now if only SOM could design some sustainable cigarettes for the company, too�

guest written by: Carissa
via: + Architectural Record

+ Press release