High-Rise Buildings: Energy and Density
Professor Philip Steadman of University College of London sets out some of the existing evidence on density and energy use for high-rise buildings and outlines his current research project on the subject
Un estudio que compara las diferencias en densidad y en el uso eficiente de energia entre edificios torre de muchos niveles y edificios de media altura de 6 a 12 niveles.
Exactly a hundred years ago, in 1915, the monstrous Equitable Life Assurance Building was completed in lower Manhattan (Figure 1).
At 40 storeys it was not the tallest office building in the world, but it was the largest by floor area. It loomed over the surrounding streets, casting a seven-acre shadow and completely cutting off sunlight to at least three other tall buildings. The City of New York estimated that the total loss in value to surrounding properties was around a million dollars. The controversy provoked by the Equitable resulted in 1916 in the passing of the New York Zoning Ordinance, which severely limited the bulk of new buildings on their upper storeys, and created the well-known New York ‘setback style’ of skyscraper. The purpose was to preserve existing property rights and to allow some light and air to reach street level.
In 2015 a similar situation is looming in London, but without the protections of any direct equivalent to the New York Ordinance.
As is well known, large numbers of tall buildings are under construction or planned for London. A survey last year by New London Architecture showed that 236 buildings of more than 20 storeys are planned, of which 80% are residential.1
Today there are extra concerns about high-rise buildings, to do with their sustainability and use of energy. In this context a new research project at University College London’s Energy Institute will try to answer two questions
1. Are high-rise buildings more energy-intensive –all other things being equal – than equivalent low-rise buildings?
2. Is it possible to provide the same total floor area on the same sites buildings, but on a much-reduced number of storeys?: