Please help me figure this out!!
Please help me with this and please don’t x out of this with leaving a short reply! I am freaking out worrying that skyscrapers are harmful to the environment. I know I have made threads about this in other forum sections but I had so many questions and different threads so I just wanted to put everything down in one spot.
Ok, now I know density is more sustainable than urban sprawl for obvious reasons, but it seems like the most sustainable city-type would be a dense city filled with mid-rises. Now, while mid-rise cities are great, let’s face it, skyscrapers are awesome and awe-inspiring. Mid-rises can’t compete IMO.
My fear that the skyscraper is unsustainable has stemmed from reading stuff about all the energy it takes to build them and operate their elevators, all the embodied energy in structural stuff like steel and concrete, etc. So, to make this as simple and organized as possible, I thought I would make a list of things I have heard that claim a skyscraper is unsustainable and then give my opinion on each list item. Now, I love skyscrapers and but I feel that it would bother me if they were not earth-friendly, so please help me out with this.
Here are some things I have read that claim certain aspects of a skyscraper aren’t environmentally friendly:
(1.) Ken Yeang, a highly educated “eco-architect” who has written many books says that skyscrapers are one of the most unecological building-types there is and that they can never be fully green in totality. Therefore, we must negate their negative effect as much as possible.
(2.) A lot of energy has to be used to: get all that steel way up to the top of the building, operate the elevators, keep the hallways and lobby lit and heated/cooled, etc.
(3.) A lot of energy is used to create the concrete and steel that is used in building skyscrapers.
(4.) Ken Yeang is for biodiversity and thinks that the human-made environment should be benign and integrated into nature. He claims that failure to integrate our man-made systems into nature’s systems would mean that our man-made systems will remain artificial (as opposed to organic) items and potential polluters.
Now here is what I am thinking/wondering about each of these points:
(1.) Can ANY building other than a mud hut actually be 100% green?
(2.) Can’t we use greener energy to operate the machines that lift all the steel? Can’t a building create its own energy to operate elevators, lights, HVACs?
(3.) I read that there are greener alternatives to concrete and steel. The steel alternative is being used in a building in Dubai and supposedly has way less embodied energy. Plus, aren’t they using recycled steel from the Twin Towers to build the new WTC?
(4.) I totally understand his point about being organic and integrated into nature because, let’s face it, all other animals don’t produce inorganic waste. But, what is wrong with a skyscraper that creates all of it’s own energy, uses natural ventilation, and uses rainwater for toilets, etc? Sure it won’t be “organic” or “benign,” but it won’t be polluting and it will be using all of the available resources.
Now, please give your honest opinion on all of this. I really want and need your help. Please don’t be biased towards or against cities or skyscrapers. Just state what you believe to be true.
Thank you so much for staying ‘til the end. I greatly appreciate your time!