Sustainable Design: Reaching New Heights of Sustainable Design in Shanghai
Increased climate variability and surging population growth are placing greater demands on limited resources such as water, energy, and physical space. Our teams are considering how buildings and infrastructure can be designed to more effectively cope with these stresses and perform well into the future. Facilities need to be built not only to operate in greater harmony with nature but also to withstand the forces it may unleash.
Tetra Tech understands the value of resiliency planning and sustainable design in addressing emerging risks associated with a changing world. We develop unique solutions to some of the toughest problems—using both cutting-edge technologies and commonsense approaches.
As conceptual frameworks, resilience and sustainability increasingly guide decisions in the planning, design, and engineering of our projects. Resiliency emphasizes robustness and the ability to recover, while sustainability considers measures of environmental impact and resource conservation. Both concepts share common end goals in contributing to society’s capacity to thrive in a meaningful way. In this Sustainable Design article series, we highlight Tetra Tech projects that represent some of the industry’s very best examples of resiliency planning and sustainable design.
Where resilience asks how to build infrastructure that can withstand a changing environment, sustainability considers how facilities can be designed to integrate with their surroundings—minimizing environmental impacts, waste generation, and energy consumption. Tetra Tech’s growing global sustainable infrastructure practice is using innovative design approaches to control temperature, reduce energy costs, and conserve water.
Reaching new heights of sustainable design in Shanghai
Halfway around the world from the Wilshire Grand stands the Shanghai Tower, the tallest building in China and the second tallest in the world. The Shanghai Tower rises 632 meters (128 stories) and encompasses more than 5,500,000 square feet, including Class A office space, retail space, a boutique hotel, and cultural venues.
The high-profile project has received global acclaim for its novel architectural design and use of sustainable technologies and renewable energy systems. Rainwater harvesting, a blackwater treatment system, cogeneration, ice storage, a geothermal system, 270 wind turbines, and a bioclimatic design featuring a double-skin facade for reducing heating and cooling loads count among the impressive features that have helped Shanghai Tower achieve LEED Platinum certification—a rare designation for a supertall building. But what might be less known is the sheer impact of the underlying engineering of the tower’s systems and designs on energy savings.
Shanghai Tower & Construction Co., Ltd. selected Tetra Tech to provide MEP, fire protection, telecommunications, audiovisual, and security system engineering design for the tower. Our team collaborated with the project architect, Gensler, to develop an MEP strategy that would create a new regional benchmark for building systems design.
“Based on the architect’s concept of splitting the tower into nine vertical neighborhoods, we began viewing the structure as several smaller buildings stacked on top of each other,” said Edward Barbieri, PE, LEED AP, principal engineer. “That became the basis for the MEP design.”
Working closely with the architect, our team helped develop an atrium buffer zone to reduce cooling costs. The building design incorporated 15-story, 360-degree atriums for the entire height of the tower, and Tetra Tech developed an HVAC design that minimized energy use by dual purposing the building’s spill air to provide conditioning to these zones. We also integrated efficient strategies into the building design such as heat recovery systems, multiple central plants for low-energy transport and effective heat transfer, and overhead variable air volume air conditioning systems with demand-control ventilation.
In approaching the project, Ed said his team had four main goals: to create an energy-efficient design based on high-quality and high-efficiency equipment; to reduce source energy consumption; to design a building automation system with control strategies to minimize energy consumption while maintaining user comfort and system reliability; and to ensure a high indoor air quality environment.
Compared to base scheme estimates, the building achieved 45 percent lower lifecycle energy costs and 25 percent overall energy savings, 70 percent of which came from the MEP equipment designs.
“Sustainability goals should be established at the beginning of a project, with owners and architects strategizing with the MEP engineer early in the design process to review options and incorporate the best systems to meet those goals,” Ed said. “We believe in taking a holistic approach to sustainability, specifying efficient systems that reduce a building’s environmental impact while also looking at resiliency and hardening methods,” he said. “We must design better buildings for a better future.”
A commitment to our future
A city is the sum of its parts—buildings, communities, coastlines—and efforts to enhance long-term resilience and sustainability must reach across all of them. Tetra Tech’s community resiliency specialists and global sustainable infrastructure teams are demonstrating what can be achieved through collaboration, creativity, and an unwavering dedication to the highest principles in planning, design, and engineering. By leading in projects that advance resiliency and sustainability, we can continue to deliver the most effective solutions to our clients and help ensure a vibrant and enduring future.