A leap towards eco-responsible architecture in Bangladesh

Cityscape: A leap towards eco-responsible architecture in Bangladesh

September 13, 2022, 10:25 a.m.

Last modification: September 13, 2022, 12:02 p.m.

“There are many features in the design that reuse building water to fertilize plants,” Mujtaba said.

On the exterior walls, a slate-like dark wood material gives the design a modern and luxurious feel. The material used for this was compressed wood – made from a mixture of recycled wood, sawdust and resin.

The design also relies heavily on glass. Logically, large windows let in natural light, reducing reliance on artificial lighting. However, in the climate of Bangladesh, using large windows is not easy. Without the proper materials, the interior can easily get very hot, increasing reliance on air conditioners.

This is where Cityscape Tower faced one of its many challenges in meeting LEED certification criteria.

“We offered sunscreens, but that would significantly increase the construction cost,” Mujtaba said.

To combat this, the building uses Pilkington Solar Control glass, a double pane of glass that helps keep the heat out, while letting in an abundance of sunlight.

Photo: Cityscape International Ltd.

Photo: Cityscape International Ltd.

Photo: Cityscape International Ltd.

“Thanks to windows, combined with other strategies, our air conditioners are 40% more energy efficient than they would have been without a green approach,” added Mujtaba.

In addition to using energy-efficient LED lights, the building also has light sensors that can automatically adjust to the natural light inside the space.

“During the design phase, we simulated the space and tried to measure the amount of light needed in each area. We wanted to make the space energy efficient while maximizing user comfort,” Mujtaba said.

It was important to find a way to keep the heat out to stay energy efficient. There is a gap between the outer wooden wall and the walls of the building. When the sun hits the structure, the rays hit the outer layer, keeping the heat out.

The ecological design has also extended to the air conditioning system. A heat recovery wheel has been added to the air conditioners, reducing the power needed to maintain a cooler climate.

Cityscape Tower also uses unique elevators. The building uses Gen2 elevators, which can generate power.

“In the upward journey, the elevator consumes energy. However, in the downward journey, its motor rotates due to gravitational attraction, producing energy. Overall, the energy consumption of the lift is quite low,” Mujtaba explained.

Even though the building uses imported materials and innovative equipment, calling it an expensive project is debatable.

Photo: Cityscape International Ltd.

Photo: Cityscape International Ltd.

Photo: Cityscape International Ltd.

Mujtaba explained, “In the long term, you save electricity, water and other resources year after year. Employees will also show an increase in productivity due to the right environment. Over time, the cost of that space will decrease. On top of that, it shows a brand’s commitment to the environment, which helps its image.”

In addition, the construction cost of the project was not significantly impacted in pursuit of LEED criteria.

Even though Cityscape International Ltd pursued a US LEED certification, the architects were able to complete the certification process remotely. Although all documents were completed virtually and submitted online, the organization cross-checked and fact-checked through a third party.

However, the project was not easy. After all, US LEED certification is a measure for environmentally friendly architecture in a foreign country. When it comes to the environment, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, because each country has its specificities, whether geographical or legal.

Despite achieving Platinum, Cityscape Tower ended up having to sacrifice points due to its location in Bangladesh. According to LEED requirements, buildings must use certified wood, which guarantees, among other things, that the wood used is also replenished. However, as Bangladesh does not have certified timber suppliers, the material could not be incorporated into Cityscape Tower.

Local demand for imported materials is also a concern, which is a huge hurdle for local brands.

Photo: Cityscape International Ltd.

Photo: Cityscape International Ltd.

Photo: Cityscape International Ltd.

“There is a tendency among customers to prefer imported materials. Even though there are local alternatives available, people assume that imported materials will be of higher quality,” Mujtaba explained.

However, initiatives to create a guideline suitable for Bangladesh are underway. For example, the SREDA introduced the BEEER (Building Energy Efficiency and Environment Rating) which mainly targets the residential sector.

“I feel like there needs to be a wider application of a local rating system. Bangladesh is one of the few countries that doesn’t have one,” Mujtaba said.

Ultimately, creating a proper guideline is not just about architects, government plays a crucial role in its success.

“There must be a bridge between the government and the architects, if we work together we can improve this sector significantly,” Mujtaba said.

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