Behind every green building is an architect. A recent survey conducted by Lance Hosey for Architect magazine asked 150 green building experts, including architects, what they thought were the five most important green buildings constructed since 1980. The top vote-getter, with 13 votes, was the Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies in Oberlin, Ohio.
The Lewis Center, which was completed in 2001, is on the campus of Oberlin College & Conservatory. The zero-energy building has classroom and office space, an auditorium, an environmental studies library and a Living Machine wastewater purification system. The building is equipped with solar panels, energy-efficient lighting, a geothermal heating and cooling system, furniture with biodegradable upholstery and more. As Oberlin College prepares to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Lewis Center, the college can add this honor to a long list of awards the building has received.
The California Academy of Sciences came in just behind the Lewis Center with 11 votes. The building is a LEED Platinum facility that boasts a massive green roof with more than 1.7 million plants and is equipped with a solar canopy that will satisfy up to 10% of the facility’s annual energy needs.
The third most important green building in the Architect survey is the Genzyme Center in Cambridge, Mass. The LEED Platinum-certified, two-story, 350,000-square-foot office building was built on a site where a coal gasification plant once stood. The abandoned building was an eyesore in the community, and Genzyme revitalized the area with an environmentally responsible office building.
The fourth and fifth most important green buildings each received seven votes: Beddington Zero Energy Development in London and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation facility in Annapolis, Md. BedZED is a sustainable community in the U.K. that is comprised of houses for sale, key worker shared ownership, and social housing for rent.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Philip Merrill Environmental Center is a LEED Platinum-certified facility that uses geothermal wells to generate one-third of the building’s energy, has an on-site solar array to generate additional clean energy, features an automatic natural ventilation system equipped with climate sensors, and is equipped with composting toilets that don’t use water.
These buildings earned the most votes and are considered the five most important green buildings built since 1980, according to Architect. Although the survey looked at green buildings from the last 30 years, most of the multiple-vote-getters were built in the last decade. A few buildings from the 1990s earned four votes apiece, including the Institute for Forestry and Nature Research in the Netherlands (1998), Commerzbank Headquarters in Germany (1997) and the Menara Mesiniaga Tower in Malaysia (1992).