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A Microclimate of Vibrancy Parkview Green’s groundbreaking approach to architecture and sustainable building


Media: Jones Lang LaSalle | SQM
Author: Kenneth Ko

Going ‘green’ is more than just a buzz phrase for H.K. Parkview, developer of the state-of-the-art Parkview Green project located at the heart of Beijing. For Parkview, it means careful design, construction, and operating in a sustainable manner as well as having absolute commitment to making its vision a reality.

While a growing number of property companies are pursuing earth-friendly developments in the Mainland, only a few of them are close to the scale that Parkview envisions. This is like building a green stake on the ground in Beijing and in China as a whole.

The Parkview Green development has four buildings in total, providing world-class offices, a six-star hotel, and four levels of retail area – all enclosed in a transparent microclimatic envelope made of ethyl tetra fluoro ethylene (ETFE), a tough recyclable material used notably for the amazing blue-bubble walls in Beijing’s Water Cube.

Parkview is one of the pioneers in China’s sustainable building endeavors. Back in the planning stage five or six years ago when the developer was putting together the blueprint for the development, green consciousness was still little known to the majority of Mainlanders.

“The green aspects of the project became a given as we worked to deliver on the brand promise that Parkview has always strived to achieve since my grandfather started the company in the late-1950s. Our simple goal is to develop signature projects of the highest possible quality,” said Leo Hwang, Executive Director of Parkview Green. “More recently, as issues around sustainability have gained momentum, we have turned up the volume on the green aspects of the project and we are consciously looking to attract and find green businesses that share our vision.”

Hwang loves many things about the project, including the creation of an energy-efficient microclimate, creative mixed-use spaces, and its integration with the surrounding neighborhoods to promote positive interaction. He is particularly proud of the fundamental planning principle behind the design – it is a biosphere and an ecosystem of places and people. In addition, Parkview Green, as an exemplary development in Beijing, is also a model for future sustainable urban development in China.

“The building is actually four structures inside an ‘environmental envelope’ and each of these structures is mixed use – organized around soaring atrium spaces that have the atmosphere of city streets, wherein you can breathe filtered fresh air and enjoy life,” Hwang continued.

“A suspension bridge makes a diagonal path across the building, connecting two neighborhoods. The building is completely integrated into its surroundings while maintaining a dramatic image. The environmental envelope is the single defining feature that sets it apart from other developments. However, it still enjoys many other green features as one would expect from a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum development.

Bounded by Third Ring Road and Diplomatic District to the north, Parkview Green rises prominently as a new landmark in downtown Beijing, with an expected completion date within the next 12 months. The project is on target to achieve LEED platinum certification – the highest rating available – from the United States Green Building Council. It is expected to be the first LEED platinum rated high-rise mixed-use development in China.

The LEED process evaluates buildings based on specific green building criteria such as water efficiency, energy, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, innovation, and design. Depending on the level of compliance, buildings are ranked as either silver, gold, or platinum LEED-certified.

Winston T. Shu, principal of the project’s architects, Integrated Design Associates Ltd, said that the LEED certification process involves stringent auditing and assessment from the design and planning stage to construction, its use of materials, and the operations after completion of the project. Thus far, Parkview Green has performed well through the certification process, getting points above the level of platinum approval.

Shu added that the project has been meticulously designed and planned, incorporating detailed considerations to capture natural light and enhance energy efficiency to provide an inspiring environment for work, shopping, and leisure.

The international Grade A offices in the four structures are strategically linked together with outdoor garden terraces to provide flexible and dynamic workspaces. The microclimatic envelope protects and regulates the internal spaces to keep the development’s temperature relatively constant. Rain, wind, and even sandstorms will be deflected by the glass prism structure, while extreme solar heat and winter cold will be absorbed.

“Ventilation louvers have been installed on top of the envelope to allow warm air to escape, creating movement and natural ventilation as hot air pulls in cooler air from the bottom of the buildings during summertime. In winter, thermal insulation will increase within the microclimate to reduce heat loss,” Shu said. “We will see obvious savings in energy consumption by about 16% in summer, 30% in spring and autumn, and up to 80% in winter.”

The green list goes on: an earth cooling system to chill the air, an energy-efficient radiant cooling system to ensure a comfortable air-conditioned environment in the offices, and a gray water recycling system to reduce water consumption.

Bringing such an avant-garde project with highly advanced sustainable technologies to life proved to be exciting and challenging.

Shu reckoned that one of the biggest challenges involved the approvals procedures from various government units of the Beijing authority as many of the project’s innovative design and building specifications went beyond existing rules, which in effect required extra time and effort to communicate to officials. In the end, all the statutory requirements were satisfied after much work and preparation, with the Beijing municipal government’s strong support to the project proving to be a catalyst.

Undaunted by the challenges facing the project, Hwang pointed to some of the key technological features such as the inflated ETFE foil roof panels, triple glazing of the environmental envelope, and chilled ceilings, whereas environmental controls are very specialized and demand extra care from the design stage all the way through to execution.

“Our policy is that the building is in a comprehensive way ‘Made in China’ as it uses local companies and expertise. Achieving this is the biggest challenge, but also the greatest opportunity,” Hwang said.

With the rapid growth of China's economic power, green building technologies are expected to be more widely adopted in the market. In particular, developers and architects are playing a pivotal role in promoting green buildings, which is clearly the trend of the future and an important direction in sustainable development.

Shu said that the prospect of sustainable development in China looks positive with the rise of more and more intelligent green buildings in key cities, especially in Beijing and Shanghai. Environmental protection awareness has increased in general. This should continue to transform the mainland market and lead to a new way of designing architecture.

“The emphasis on green building is growing, and government engagement is essential to the future of eco-architecture. The support of tenants or occupants will be another driver to development. Once demand is there, the momentum will gather pace,” Shu said.

With regard to Parkview Green, Hwang said that the green nature gives the project a very credible point of differentiation in the Beijing market and in China, in general. A balance between sustainability and commercial concerns will be fundamental to the future success of the Parkview group’s business.

“Ultimately, this building needs to stand the test of time since we believe in developing projects that are future oriented. From a commercial point of view, this means designing buildings that are relevant and credible for the world going forward,” he said.

The developer strives to give its tenants and visitors a “breath of fresh air” within the microclimate. “For office workers, this is a really important issue as a significant part of their lives is spent in the workplace,” according to Hwang. Companies need to provide the best possible working environment to attract the best people. Likewise, from the visitor’s point of view, the quality of environment has everything to do with eating great food, enjoying time out, and having an amazing shopping experience.

“The idea of ‘a breath of fresh air’ goes further. We are trying to create an environment that is inspiring and refreshing. In commercial developments in Beijing right now, we see a lack of diversity, and we hope that Parkview Green will help address that issue. We envisage a place that is vibrant and exciting for everyone – tenants and visitors alike,” Hwang said.

“As a company, we believe that we have a responsibility to build in a way that safeguards the environment. We believe that what is good for the planet is good for business. We hope our tenants will share our ethos,” he added.

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