Made in Taiwan

From the swarm of journalists, local celebrities and jubilant politicians that gathered for the ceremony in Taipei 101’s gargantuan atrium, it was clear that the tower’s new tag of LEED Platinum is a big deal for Taiwan. Yet pride in the world’s second tallest tower – now the world’s tallest ‘green building’ – was not just limited to the natives.

During the ceremony, the chairman of the US Green Building Council, Mark MacCracken, declared: “The impact that this building is going to have on the existing building market, I honestly feel this is a monumental event.”

Completed in 2004, the 509-metre tower utterly dominates the mid-rise skyline of Taipei, a flat city surrounded by lush green mountains. Resembling a giant Chinese pagoda, the quirky design by C.Y. Lee architects is steeped in superstition.

Due to the fact the number eight is considered to be lucky while four is unlucky, the building is divided into eight segments and there is no fourth floor. The blue-green glass resembles jade, a stone of royalty, while the interior is plastered with a swirly motif which stands for ‘dreams coming true’.

In addition to this fastidious symbolism, the building was designed with the environment in mind. Cathy Yang, vice president, Tower Division, Taipei 101, explains: “In the very early stages of our development, we had already put environment as one of our characteristics.

The curtain wall was built with Low-E glass to save energy – we always knew the importance of having a good building envelope. We also had a water harvesting system in place to collect the rain water. The reason we hadn’t applied for LEED was because we didn’t know about it.”

The decision to apply for LEED in 2009 was prompted by a direct approach from a team comprising electronics giant Siemens, green consultant EcoTech and interior design firm Steven Leach, who had all previous worked for the client.

LEED Gold was the initial target set by Taipei 101 chairman Harace Hong-Min Lin, yet during an evaluation in 2010 it was clear that Platinum status was in reach. Determined to excel, the client invested more money to attain the highest rank.

Peter Halliday, vice president, Building Technologies Division, Siemens Taiwan, adds: “The partnership helped to sell the idea to the owner and it also gave us an excellent platform to work as engineers and consultants. I honestly believe that without this team approach we wouldn’t have achieved Platinum status.”

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