Proposed Pittsburgh skyscraper to feature revolutionary “natural ventilation” system

Written By: Thatcher Michelsen October 17, 2012 0
Set to be complete in 2015, Pittsburgh will be home to the Tower at PNC Plaza, a structure that features a "solar chimney" designed to naturally distribute cool and fresh air throughout the building.
Set to be complete in 2015, Pittsburgh will be home to the Tower at PNC Plaza, a structure that features a "solar chimney" designed to naturally distribute cool and fresh air throughout the building.

Cities across America are seeking their own solutions for reducing pollution and energy consumption. In some cases, including one particular development project in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, local leaders are allowing members of the private sector to take on much of the innovative pushes needed to make cities more green.

The group financing the construction of the Tower at PNC Plaza, PNC Financial Services Group, has spared no expense in creating a truly unique eco-friendly skyscraper. According to industry news source Architectural Record, the company currently owns 160 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Designed (LEED)-certified buildings around the world. Furthermore, it hopes for the Pittsburgh office to be its flagship by earning its own approval from the U.S. Green Building Council (GBC) a nonprofit advocacy group that awards this recognition to energy-efficient construction projects.

At the heart of the proposed building is a "solar chimney" composed of two shafts that extends the height of the tower. A 5,000-square foot chamber of glass and concrete at the top captures the heat from the sun and cooks the air inside. After this process begins, the source says, the difference in pressure should pull cooler air up the tunnels and feed into vents throughout the building.

"A headquarters facility is the cornerstone building of any company's portfolio, embodying company values and business ethics. PNC is making a strong statement by building their forthcoming headquarters to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards," Richard Fedrizzi, head of the GBC, said in a statement when the Tower at PNC Plaza initiative was announced.

This project could be the start of a widespread movement to make energy-efficient skyscrapers the norm in American cities. Thanks to the efforts of the GBC, more buildings are becoming LEED-certified every year. With luck, local and state governments will continue to reduce the carbon footprint of metropolitan areas.

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