The Greenest of the Green

Naturally, in the wake of our changing environment, it is of the utmost significance that we do not just look to alter our reliance on fossil fuels, but that we look to practice sustainability in every respect, construction included. In light of such, the Netherlands is leading the way. With their creation of Earth’s most sustainable building, they are setting an example that will ideally inspire the rest of the world.

Receiving a 99.94% on the BREEAM certification system, the gold standard for assessing, rating, and certifying the sustainability of buildings, this building is a testament to innovation and progress. The current head office of “dryer and cleaner manufacturer, Geelen Counterflow,” it has space for about fifty workers and produces an astounding fifty percent more solar energy than it requires for basic maintenance. As a result, Geelen Counterflow is able to dedicate the surplus energy production to things like laser cutting and recharging electric forklifts.

Throughout the building’s entire construction, all materials (where possible anyway) are ensured as ‘cradle-to-cradle’ certified, which essentially just means that they do not harm the environment. In fact, these materials can actually be reused and recycled for when they exceed their lifespan.

In regards to infrastructure, the building is built from the ground-up out of wood that is supposed to have the lowest CO2 imprint out of any other available construction material. Just as well, the building’s infrastructure was constructed with the ability to control daylight infiltration, air quality, and even indoor lighting.

According to Sander Geelan, the managing director of Geelen Counterflow, the environmentally responsible company seeks to “build the best dryers and coolers for food and feed” and in doing so they “apply the laws of nature around gravity, aerodynamic and thermodynamics.” Well, I certainly can’t disagree considering their recent BREEAM score.

Apparently, a literal wall composed of vegetation rests in the center of the building beneath a large atrium. By paying such clear attention to the inherent and central role of nature in their business, Geelen Counterflow is setting what I hope to be an industry standard. Yet, only time will tell to see if a massive corporate shift occurs or not. That said, commercial entities are certainly making progress, just not fast enough.

Moving forward, I am optimistic green building will, eventually, not only increase in prevalence but will become the norm.