On July 31, Japanese contracting conglomerate Shimizu Corporation announced that it had completed construction of its Tokyo headquarters. The building, which opened on August 1, is claimed to be the most eco-friendly structure ever built.
According to the company's press release, the tower is designed to produce only 38 km/m² of carbon dioxide per year, roughly 62 percent less than similar-sized buildings around it. This is achieved by a variety of energy consumption-cutting measures. One of the most unique systems in place is a network of water tubes that are placed inside the ceiling. Environmental controllers in the building can adjust the temperature of the water, creating a radiant effect that absorbs excess heat and emits about 30 percent less carbon dioxide during operation.
The building also utilizes an array of translucent electric window shades. The light that streams through the covers provides illumination for the room while further reducing the need for cooling systems. Additionally, the shades automatically adjust their position according to the position of the sun.
Solar panels positioned on the walls and roof of the complex generate about 84,000 kilowatt hours (kwh) per year, scaling back the building's dependence on the electrical grid. Most of the lighting fixtures are equipped with light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that cut down on maintenance time and energy consumption.
In the company's press release, Shimizu claims that, by 2015, it will have increased its efficiency to 70 percent below current standards through tweaking the existing systems while also introducing new ones. Despite the fact that the jury may be out as to whether the building is truly the most energy-saving tower ever constructed, it certainly represents a huge step toward low impact living.