One World Trade Center Leading Sustainability Charge

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Robison Wells
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The observatory of One World Trade Center, the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex, has a distinct smell to it. Aside from offering 360 degree views of New York City, the observatory has piped in the smell of trees and plants native to New York: beeches, mountain ashes, and red maples.

It’s just one part of the building (which was designed to be the safest commercial structure in the world) is trying to lead the charge in sustainable architecture. Despite being an engineering marvel all its own (the tallest structure on the Western Hemisphere) it also won the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold certification (LEED). LEED is a green building certification system which recognizes structures that have been built using green technologies incorporating energy savings, water efficiency, and CO2 emissions.

One World Trade Center collects 100% of its water runoff which is stored in high-efficiency evaporative cooling towers. The water is used for cooling, fire protection, and irrigation of the extensive landscaping.

The windows also use a feature called “daylighting” which means that on bright, sunny days when a large amount of natural daylight is coming in, sensors inside the building automatically lower the lights to reduce energy consumption. And the glass—all 787,200 square feet of it—is “ultra-clear”, meaning it allows the maximum amount of light in while reflecting UV radiation.

In addition to these sustainable efforts, the building also uses low-water bathrooms, energy-reclaiming elevators, sustainable wood, clean diesel, and green concrete (a concrete that is more environmentally friendly than traditional cement).

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