Integration of symbiotic systems
“Key to this is the understanding of an integrated network of ecological thinking – not simply a reduction of energy and cost, but rather the integration of symbiotic systems that nature has perfected over billions of years.”

The SCGZero+ deep green demonstration building officially broke ground on 6 January 2021 and will be China’s highest rating and first “5Zero” building – including zero carbon, zero energy, zero water, zero waste and zero formaldehyde.

Green ratings galore

Following two years of preparatory design investigation and incorporating PassivHaus Design Principles and building on dB(A)’s experience, Melbourne’s (and the world’s) highest LEED, BREEAM and Green Star rated building, Pixel, was designed. Now SCGZero+ is set to achieve a new global benchmark and take the title of the world’s highest scores in LEED, BREEAM, WELL, China3Star and China Healthy Building.

Decibel Architecture (dB(A), Atelier Ten, Landleaf and Fabric First worked alongside the client, Shanghai Construction Group (SCG), with internal design and ESD institutes, to apply the absolute best innovation and insight to create the SCGZero+ project.

Achieving the world’s highest sustainability status

The collective design is a demonstration of innovative, transferrable technologies that are set to lead the path to changing and improving the rules upon which sustainable buildings are built. Key to this is the understanding of an integrated network of ecological thinking – not simply a reduction of energy and cost, but rather the integration of symbiotic systems that nature has perfected over billions of years.

The consultation team, based in Melbourne and Shanghai, has ensured that SCGZero+ is on track to achieve the world’s highest sustainability status and help China, and the world, run the race to reach net zero.

Materials and techniques

Located in Shanghai, SCGZero+ utilises key approaches to improve embodied energy and operational effectiveness, including prefabricated construction methodologies in structure and facade assemblies, embedding robotic fabrication techniques and deploying innovative and experimental materials, in CLT and cross-laminated bamboo (CLB).

In addition, the project involved creating timber and bamboo routed and assembled structural framing to PassivHaus rated solar facades with an integrated, adaptable and finely tuned assembly of vision and solar units across the building. It also incorporates “Living Edge” water systems which were prototyped and tested in Pixel, rainwater capture and on-site biomimicry to “close the loop” on water quality and usage.

Cradle-to-cradle and biophilia approaches

Recycled steel was utilised, along with low-carbon concrete, low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and cradle-to-cradle philosophies on all material supplies and supply chains, and flexible and resilient indoor gathering and working spaces. An inclusion of biophilia, indoor greenery and circadian lighting throughout, with water-balanced design enabling integration to larger parkland surrounds, demonstrates and educates people about sustainable water practices. There are also integrated on-site elevated running tracks, gymnasiums, dance and yoga studios, childcare and maternity spaces, and significant end-of-trip facilities.

The inclusion of vegetarian kitchens seeks to close the loop on food miles, through the on-site production via rooftop farms with produce for staff. The entire management process will be translated into educational and demonstrational technical case studies, which will be used for improving the systematic procedures in green construction for the future.

SCGZero+ represents a new way of building, embedding technology and natural symbiosis in everyday thinking. By partnering with the National Development Reform Committee as part of the delivery, design and assessment process, dB(A) and SCG are looking to help change the rules by which buildings in China, and the world, are designed and built.

Key facts:
• Brand: Architecture.
• Practice: Decibel Architecture (dB(A).
• Project category: Best use of technology for commercial offices, sustainable buildings and wood in architecture.
• Location: Shanghai, China.

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